Prom is a big night for teens- with big consequences at stake. In a national survey, 90 percent of teenagers said their peers are more likely to drink and drive on prom night.* And I’ve seen it reported that 27 percent of girls lose their virginity on prom night.
It’s a big night for your teen, and it should be a big night for you, too. Your job? To keep prom night from becoming prom nightmare. That means talking to your teen ahead of time in an honest, clear, non-confrontational way.
Here’s how you can help keep prom night safe and fun for your teen:
1. Sneak in a story. As prom prep ramps up, find chances to talk casually about your own experience, how you and your peers spent prom night. Mention your classmates who had a great night without doing something they later regretted… and the ones who likely had regrets the next day. Keep it honest, stick to the facts, and don’t pass judgment. Let your teen draw the conclusions.
2. Be clear about car safety. Stress the importance of seatbelts, and tell your teen to trust her gut. Explain how to find a different ride if needed, and promise you’ll pick up and deliver whomever, whenever- no questions asked. ?
3. Come up with a code. Together with your teen, decide on a phrase he can use in a text or phone call that lets you know he needs a fast out.
4. Get her to set some ground rules. Encourage your teen to talk to her date on the way to or during the prom establishing her boundaries for alcohol use or intimacy. She should not wait until afterwards, when things often get too hot to handle.
5. Know where he is and who he’s with. Hanging with friends and having clean fun makes for a memorable night, one that teens will enjoy remembering forever. If your teen attends an after-party, make sure it’s only with his friends. If the party is at a private home, make sure you know whose it is.
6. Send her off with another story. Before she leaves for her big night, share one more story about how things can get out of control, why it happens, and how to spot problems early. If your teen admits she plans to be intimate, stay level…that will keep the lines of communication open. First listen, and then suggest ways to keep things from going further than planned.
Special note for parents of freshman and sophomore girls: Younger teen girls invited to prom are especially vulnerable to risky, runaway situations involving drinking and date rape. Be firm with your daughter and with her date. Give him clear guidelines about any after-prom activities and your expectations for their behavior. Establish exactly where they will be and who they will be with, and get the phone number of your daughter’s date and at least two of her friends. Finally, set a strict curfew. Let them know that if they are not through the door when expected, you’re headed out to look for them.