Little else conjures up as much simultaneous horror and excitement in both teens and their parents as going to prom. It’s an adolescent rite of passage that dates to the late 19th century, and it’s been a social and economic minefield from the very beginning. Thankfully, the parenting experts at Boys Town have a few words of advice on the subject.
This is something that has taken off in recent years, and it can range from cute and fun to awkward and downright dangerous. Instead of simply asking out a guy or girl, either in person or via an intermediary, the “promposal” is conducted, usually on video, via social media such as Instagram, YouTube or Twitter. It typically involves the asker making their promposal in an incredibly outlandish manner. The more ”likes”the proposal has on Twitter or Instagram and the more views it has on YouTube, the better.
For the target of the promproposal, the pressure comes from the expectation to say “yes.” While this is difficult enough with the standard over-the-phone or text proposal, it is magnified tenfold by a promposal video. Say “yes” and you may end giving them the wrong idea about your relationship, setting up false expectations. Say “no,” and you could compound the rejection they feel by negating all the hard work they’ve done on the video. Talk to your teen to find out if they have any promposal plans in the works and try to either talk them out of it — or at least keep it simple and safe.
While guys can get away with renting a tuxedo for a hundred bucks or so, girls can often spend five to 10 times that amount on dresses they’ll only wear once.
Sit down with your daughter and discuss the dress. Try to find something reasonable — maybe even go the vintage route and pick something up at a thrift store or antique clothing boutique. It’ll make the same statement without breaking the bank. Plus, if you go shopping together, you can be sure to rule out any dresses that are too revealing.
The meal, too, can become quite an expense — especially for guys, who are typically expected to pay. Depending on the restaurant, a fancy dinner for two can cost several hundred dollars or more, which, much like an outlandish promposal, can pressure girls into feeling that they must somehow reciprocate, perhaps with undesired physical intimacy. Conversely, an expensive dinner could make a guy feel as if he is somehow “owed” this reciprocity.
Instead, you could offer to make dinner for your teen and their date. You can leave them alone for romantic conversation, but you can also be sure that they aren’t consuming alcohol or drugs, which is an added benefit of keeping them on the premises.
Most schools offer post-prom parties for students. It’s a way to prevent them from heading off to dingy motel rooms to consume alcohol or drugs and engage in other illicit activities. Although generally viewed as “uncool” by many students, post-prom parties do offer an alternative for kids who really don’t want to succumb to peer pressure. Find out if your teen’s school is offering a post-prom party and encourage them to go.
Basically, a parent’s role during prom season is to be engaged with your teen. Find out their plans. Offer to help. Offer advice. If you’ve maintained a positive, open relationship with your child over the years, this will be relatively easy. And, don’t forget, you likely went through this yourself back in the day, so try to remember how serious it was for you and empathize with your teen when it comes time to talk about it.