If thoughts of corsages, boutonnieres, tuxedos, and dresses in every color are filling your headspace this month, you must have a teen getting ready for prom. However, equipping your daughter with everything she needs before she hits the dance floor can be a bit overwhelming.
From the beginning, there’s finding the perfect dress that will satisfy her tastes, not to mention her school’s rules, and it all concludes with the after party which is another ball game entirely. But, there’s every detail in between to consider, too. And what do you do if your son or daughter doesn’t want to attend prom at all? Your head is probably spinning now. Luckily, we are here to help make things easier for you from the promposal to the last dance.
Finding the Perfect Outfit
For girls attending prom, it all starts with the dress! Every girl dreams of finding the perfect dress, and everyone wants to look their best for the big night. But it’s important to keep in mind that every school has its own set of codes and regulations students must follow. Allison Milton, a senior at Woodlawn High School, says that one rule girls must follow when choosing a dress is that their waists should not be shown. However, the guys have fewer rules to follow when choosing what they want to wear for the dance. “There aren’t many rules for the guys, but they are supposed to wear a tux, and everyone is required to dress appropriately,” she shares.
Students are often told that if they are in doubt as to whether an item of clothing will be allowed, then they should not wear it. There are chaperones at the door, and in the building, who will ask you to leave if your attire or your date’s attire does not meet the school’s requirements.
It’s important to know the school’s rules and to follow them when purchasing an outfit. Even if you find a dress that you just have to have and it looks perfect on you, if it doesn’t fit the criteria, walk away and don’t look back. You may regret walking away from the dress of your dreams then, but you won’t regret it when you see someone else getting sent home for an outfit blunder that easily could have been avoided.
Once you have found what you will wear, it’s time to start planning what you will do before prom. For some teens, getting together to take group photos is always a must. The group will meet at one of the friend’s houses or at a special location with the perfect backdrop. If photos aren’t your thing, some couples prefer to make reservations at a local restaurant so everyone can eat before the big dance. And if neither of those are appealing, there is always the option of having a fun get together at someone’s house for a meal an hour or two before everyone leaves for the dance.
One thing to remember though is at these pre-prom parties, pregame drinking is sometimes involved. Teens should be wary of this because students will be sent home if they show up to prom looking as if they have been drinking, and some schools will even breathalyze all the students upon entering the dance.
Even if your child’s school doesn’t breathalyze the students upon entering, make sure she understands that she could still get in trouble for consuming alcohol at any point during the night. Milton shares, “There will be cops at the dance, and if you look like you’re under the influence, they will send you home.”
Unique promposals have been going viral over the last few years, and local teens are keeping up with the times and planning elaborate ways to ask one another to the big dance. This is an opportunity for your child to get creative. However, the unfortunate reality is that not everyone gets asked, making it one of the most difficult parts of prom season. If you find your daughter in this position, how do you help her?
First, reassure her that not everyone is going to have a date, and because of this, many decide to go as a group. It helps take the pressure off of everyone, and no one feels left out of the fun. If your son is too nervous to ask anyone to the dance, a group setting may benefit him as well. Encourage your son or daughter to find friends who are also flying solo and attend prom together. Going solo to prom isn’t so bad! It’s actually quite common.
However, she still may be hurt that she did not get asked and that is okay, too, but she shouldn’t let it keep her from having a great time at prom. She deserves a special night as much as everyone else–date or no date.
Being a Great Date
If your child is going with a date, he or she should be aware of proper prom etiquette. Dating in modern times has changed drastically, and technology often hinders teens’ ability to have conversations and be present in the moment. “My date last year was pretty great and talked to me the whole time,” says Milton. “But my friend went with this guy who was awful to her. He stayed on his phone the whole time, sat at the table, and wouldn’t dance or do anything.” The best advice we can give is to put the phone down and enjoy the moment.
The After Party
When the last song has played and the dance is over, what happens next? For many high school students, it’s time for an after party, causing concern among many parents. Curtis Nelson, East Baton Rouge Juvenile Chief, says, “The good news is, we haven’t had a huge problem with teenagers drinking after prom. I know it goes on, but fortunately, we haven’t had any fatalities with wrecks.”
However, for those who do decide to drink, there are consequences for prom-goers and parents. Once you have reached the age of 17, you are considered an adult in the state of Louisiana, says Nelson. If a 17-year-old is found in possession of alcohol or receives a DUI, he or she will be arrested as an adult. “Louisiana law does recognize that if a person under the age of 21 is drinking in the presence of a parent, spouse, or legal guardian over the age of 21, he or she cannot be arrested,” says Nelson. “However, if we have parents who purchase alcohol and are not supervising the drinking, that is considered contributing to delinquency of a minor.”
Unfortunately, underage drinking isn’t the only issue resulting from these after parties. Nelson’s office also sees a rise in reports of rape any time there is a high school dance or prom happening. “When teenagers are being served alcohol at these parties, sometimes a person, due to intoxication, cannot give consent,” says Nelson. “Unfortunately, that’s what I see of allegations of rape. I would not say it is a high number, but we do see it from time to time.”
With all of this comes another concern: social media. Snapchatting or taking any kind of nude and/or inappropriate photo of a person under the age of 17 is considered transmission and/or possession of child pornography, and sending those photos to another person is considered dissemination of child pornography, says Nelson. “We have had one or two cases where those photos were taken and sent to multiple people,” he says. “Thirty teens were implicated in the possession of child pornography.”
Sit down with your child and have a conversation about underage drinking, party culture, and the consequences of social media and sexting. They do not have to go to parties just because their friends are. Milton says she doesn’t enjoy the party scene and opts to go home afterward.
My Child Doesn’t Want To Go To Prom
Of course, there is always the chance your child might not want to go to prom at all, and that is perfectly okay! Prom isn’t for everyone, and if your child wants to do something else with friends or even have a night home with the family, you could turn it into a fun night for everyone. Host a movie night, plan a weekend trip or a special concert. In the long run, it is more important that your child is happy and doing something he loves.
Also, instead of spending money on prom, save the cash and put it toward an end of the year trip. They will be able to travel and stay somewhere they always wanted to go for a few days instead of going all in on one night.
Prom is a rite of passage for many high-schoolers, and if they decide it is something they are interested in, we want them to remember it forever. However, we also want them to stay safe and show their good character. You, as a parent, can play a huge role in that and help to make prom a special night for everyone. ■