Wouldn't it be nice if you really believed that your teenager - all flush with the end of high school and the most fun night ever - wouldn't drink, potentially lose his or her virginity or smoke marijuana? Wouldn't it be nice if you came down to earth?
The over hyped, and from what I heard today ridiculously priced prom night (average price is now $1,000 per child), is an American ritual and there's no getting around it.
My son who is a junior announced to me recently that he was going to the prom, with a girl he did now know, whom he had not asked yet (but he had a really creative way of getting her attention), and finally, that his girlfriend didn't care. Since I already support dates with the girlfriend sometimes, and my son is not getting a job until he takes the last of the five AP tests next month, I figured why not find out what it costs. So I did.
But then I started thinking about the other costs. I didn't do anything I wasn't already doing on prom night except go skinny dipping in the Long Island Sound - which the guy I was with didn't even remember when I mentioned it at our 30th high school reunion. One heck of a night. Did we drink? Yes. Did we take drugs - I don't think so but mostly because the crowd of kids I was with didn't do drugs - they drank. Did someone drive drunk - I'm sure of it. Did my parents even ask me about my night - not that I remember.
Prom has come a long way in three decades. Where it used to be about a last night's hurrah with your high school friends, now it's as commercial as Christmas. It's mid-April and we're already barraged with crap teen television programs about the dramas of prom, images of drunk kids at proms, and don't even get me started on prom dresses.
I'm sure there's a reality television show somewhere that mimics the bride shows - four proms (where they critique each other's dresses and plans), chubby girl prom, beautiful girl prom, prom dates, whatever. I don't care. What I do care about is that I don't know how to stop my son from drinking at the prom. And I have no idea how I could.
So what can you do? Well you can certainly start talking to your kids now about some of the science behind what alcohol does to your body - you won't remember the prom, you will exercise less self-control and may do something you regret later, I will breathalyze you (I kind of like the last one), which can't hurt. But I think it's mostly about all the work that you've put into your kids from birth on that culminates in how they handle this final leap into pseudo adulthood. Although I was a little too young to legally drink at my prom, everyone else around me could. And no one cared how old you were.
So ask yourself these few questions and think about the answers. They should give you some idea about what to do and say.
- Does your teenager talk to you about personal things sporadically?
- Does your teen lie to you on a regular basis? Why?
- Are you comfortable with an "I'll come and get you no consequences rule" if your teen calls you and says he or she is with a bunch of friends who are drunk and doesn't want to get into a car with one?
- Do your trust your teens' friends?
- Do you have to hide or lock up your liquor? (I usually solve this problem by having nothing but wine in the house, which my sons' friends won't tough).
- How many times can you call during prom night without your teen turning off the cell phone?
Best of luck to everyone and happy prom.