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Making Time for Teens

Should I Let My Teen Entertain at Home?

Putting on Perfect Proms, Programs & Pageants by Sallie G. Randolph

Much Ado about Prom Night by William D. McCants (fiction)

Pageantry Magazine

How to Say It to Teenagers

by Tania K. Cowling

Times have changed and the modern-day proms have little resemblance to the ones we had in our high school days. Most proms today are held in fancy hotels where teens arrive in lavish limousines. Teens are decked out in fancy clothes, some even spending as much as they would to get outfitted for a wedding. Needless to say, the price tag for this extravagant evening can cause havoc with parents and teens and threaten to bankrupt a household budget. However, despite all the parental headaches, the high school prom still occupies a special place in the adolescent experience, so it’s worthwhile to spend some quality time helping your teen plan a safe, enjoyable and memorable evening. Here are some tips to share with your teen:

  • Dates — The “big issue” among teens used to be “do you have a date?” Today, plenty of people go to proms solo or in groups. Assure your teen that having a date is not a big issue and that they should consider going in a group if they would like to attend their prom.
  • Money — Proms today can be very expensive, so it’s common for some couples or groups to share the costs. . Tickets, meals and transportation can be shared. This should be discussed prior to the event so kids can save up money.
  • Plan Ahead — Help your teen make your arrangements for limos, restaurants, tux rental and flowers early. Kids will be disappointed when reservations are taken, so planning ahead can help avoid later disappointment. Some vendors offer discounts to teens who book early. Check it out!We can advise our kids, tell them what we would do.
  • Flowers — Remind your teen that if her date comes with a corsage she should wear it! For guys who have no clue as to what goes with his date’s dress, you can suggest that he can’t go wrong with white. They should consider roses, baby’s breath, freesia, stephanotis and carnations. All are pretty and smell terrific. The florist can help teens stay within their budget. For girls, a boutonniere is still a nice gesture to give their date. A simple rosebud will do just fine.
  • Formal or Semi-formal — Formal usually means long gowns and tuxedos. Semi-formal can be short dresses and suits or dinner jackets. If your teen is inviting a date from another school, it’s best to inform the date in advance about what to wear.
  • Pictures — Offer to take pictures of your child and date. Remember this can be awkward for your child so remember to discuss it before hand. Most likely he will agree, so take some of each child alone and then the couple. If they protest, remind them that they will love the pictures later and they will be less expensive than the professional photographers at the prom.
  • Curfew — Set a time when you expect your teen to arrive home. Remind your child to let you know that he has arrived home safely and to call if there is any delay.
  • Fun — Don’t forget to tell the couple to have a great time!

As parents, we will try all three at some time or another, often in combination. But what works best in the long run is the method of helping kids arrive at their own right decisions.

If we force our kids to do things our way, they learn something about us. If we allow them the time and the space to make up their own minds, they learn something about themselves.

Undoubtedly, the years ahead will not be easy. The three D's will splash in and out of our lives like waves crashing relentlessly on a rock. The goal, I think, is like that rock, to stay firm while growing smoother as a result of difficulties, disappointments and dilemmas that wash over us all.


  • Talk with other parents about safety. They are probably as cautious as you are.
  • Teens like to stay out all night. If you are not comfortable about the idea of hotels, maybe a parent can host an “all-night” party for some of the teens. The young people can change into sweats, dance, and watch videos until morning. Serve a fancy breakfast in the morning.
  • Caution against drinking. More than 40 percent of deaths of sixteen- to twenty-year olds result from motor vehicle accidents. Almost 40 percent of these crashes were alcohol-related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Warn your teen about drinking and using drugs. If you choose to hold an after-prom party, be vigilant. Make sure no one brings alcohol or drugs into your home.
  • Don’t leave beverages unsupervised — Make sure girls are told not to leave their drink where someone can slip a drug into it. The date rape drug Rohypnol can leave a young woman helpless to resist rape and unable to recall the assault later.
  • Arrange transportation — Limousines are expensive, but a safe means of transportation. If this is out of your budget, make sure there is a designated driver for the evening.
  • Be available — Make sure your teen knows where to reach you throughout the evening. If you plan to be out, carry a cell phone on you at all times.

A prom is a wonderful event in your teen’s life and a great time to share memories together. Talking can lead to interesting discussions and discoveries. Your teen is growing up—enjoy this quality time together.

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