Monday, April 4, 2011

Prom Proofing Your Teen- Part 1

Prom time is here. Get out the  digital cameras, the video cameras and of course the checkbook. Many of you will be tapping into your teen's college fund just to pay for the all the expenses of "prom". First of all the ticket, that can run $50-$100 bucks a person. Then you've got the dress or the tuxedo, the shoes, the limo, the hair, the makeup and the list goes on. But that moment when you're teen is standing in the group shoulder to shoulder picture, looking handsome/beautiful with all their besties is a sight to behold. Parents nudge each other, hug, cry, and savor this moment and this memory.

And then...perhaps you get this phone call from the school only half way through the prom as these parents did this past Saturday night in a suburban town outside Boston. "Please come and pick your child up, there has been an incident at the prom." Your heart is beating,and your palms are sweating as  you race to the fancy hotel where the prom is being held wondering; What happened? Was my son/daughter involved? And then you arrive, and hear the story. It seems several students became violently ill after ingesting brownies laced with pot, and were sent to the hospital. Prom has turned from dancing and partying to ambulances and anger. Your teen gets in the car, muttering "no fair, the principal is an ***hole, it was only a few kids, just punish them, why do we all have to leave?"

 You start the lecture:"This is what happens when kids break the rules, or they had to make sure everyone is safe." Your teen turns on you, defensive and angry, "you don't understand, why don't you just shut up!" and off you are to the races.

Hopefully this won't be happening at your teen's prom, but it is likely that something will happen or not happen for that matter. Proms are full of expectations and fantasies. Maybe it's hoping that now that they look hot and amazing the boy/girl that they really like and has gone to prom with a "friend" just like they did, will finally "get" that they are meant to be together, and they will magically ride off into the limo sunset. Or maybe, your teen is expecting to have the best time ever, and some stupid fight between friends starts over something ridiculous and they end up arguing the whole night, or everyone wanted to get really drunk and ruined the night by acting like animals.  It could be a thousand things, because reality is never as good as fantasy. No need to lecture. You will never say the "right thing" anyway. For those kids who had to leave the prom early on Saturday night, a " this is so disappointing, I am so sorry this turned out this way, I know how much you were looking forward to this." and leave it at that. A few days later, when there are more details about what actually happened, you can process it all. Which you should do....when the time is right.

Disillusionment is a huge part of adolescence. Because this stage is full of "firsts", events like prom are almost doomed from the beginning because expectations never meet reality. I remember so vividly my first junior prom. I went with a guy who was a year older. I was a sophomore going with a junior. That was a huge ego boost. I liked my dress, so that worked out for me, but when I came home from the hair salon I was crazed. I hated my hair! I washed it out immediately and redid it myself, still hating it. My prince charming came to the door in a suit that he had outgrown having not worn it in a year, and honestly he looked ridiculous. We didn't do limo's back then, so we drove in his dad's car. I think we spent an hour in the prom but most of the time making out in the parking lot. Not exactly like Cinderella at the ball.

There is not much you can do about this prom issue except hug, nod your head, and understand. PERIOD!! Please this is not lecture time. However there is the other huge, looming issue of prom that I will discuss in tomorrow's blog on prom safety. Back to the brownie incident. Schools have gotten really good these days at trying to keep proms a sober activity. This has driven teens to be exceptionally creative. Here come the bakers!  Come back tomorrow for Prom proofing your teen..keeping them safe.

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