If you’re the proud parents of an American high schooler, your teen might soon be heading off to their prom (if not this year, then maybe next). While this is certainly an exciting time in any junior or senior’s life, families understandably worry about the decisions their child make might or the situations they might face come prom night. This should be an enjoyable evening for all, but only if you’re able to have open conversations with your teen about how they can prioritize their safety. To that end, you should consider the following tips.
- Know the Crew: You should know every individual who will be going to prom in the same group as your child (as well as their dates for the evening, if they don’t attend the same school) and have contact information for them and their families. Be sure to discuss pre- and post-prom plans with other parents to ensure the group is supervised, safe, and forthcoming with everyone.
- Discuss Drinking and Drugging: You might feel like a stick in the mud (and could come off that way to your kid), but it’s not a good idea to avoid talking about the dangers of drinking and drugging on prom night, as well as at other times. Even if they are not driving, teens may end up making poor decisions and putting themselves in danger. Just one drink or bad reaction to a drug could change the course of their life forever. Make sure they know you have their safety and best interests at heart and that they can always contact you to come get them in any situation without fear.
- Hire Professional Drivers: Some teens with licenses or lower budgets may be inclined to drive themselves to prom. Even if they have excellent driving records, make it a priority to hire a professional limo or party bus driver for the occasion. It really is a matter of safety, as crash risks increase drastically among teens with other young people in the car. There are more than 130,000 limos currently in service around the country and the costs are fairly affordable if the whole party splits the cost. Just make sure that the driver and car are both reputable (some parents in Long Island found out the hard way!). Not only is taking a limo more special than driving yourself, but it can ensure that your child and their friends get to prom and back home safely.
- Promote Preparedness: Encourage your child to bring along an external battery charger for their cell phone, as well as any other relevant health or safety materials like ibuprofen, bottled water, cash, or even pepper spray. Make sure they know to stay alert and to not leave the building where prom is being held until the night has ended. You can even discuss potential uncomfortable situations like turning down a ride from a friend who’s been drinking or unwanted sexual advances.
- Lay Out Consequences: Make sure that your child knows that their actions have consequences and that you will see them through. If they violate curfew or are caught drinking or lying, for example, you need to have clearcut ramifications in place. You might want to establish a check-in system to ease your worries and ensure their plans are still happening as intended. Although it’s important for them to feel free to have fun with their friends, setting expectations can prove essential. This can teach your child responsibility and accountability, both of which are lifelong lessons. You’ll also want to remind them that their choices may have results outside your home, too. An embarrassing or potentially incriminating post on social media could have an impact on their social life or even their ability to attend the college of their choosing.
With these tips in mind, you can express your concerns and communicate with your child in an honest way while still allowing them to make cherished memories with their peers.