Q. Help! My daughter is only a sophomore, and she has been asked to prom by a senior, and I am of two minds about it. She is so excited about going; in fact, I think she is more excited about the prom itself than the actual boy! Anyway, I've only allowed her to "date" in groups so far, so this would be a big step. I think I am okay with the dance by itself, but I'm a little freaked out by all the after parties. Some other parents are arranging big sleepovers and breakfasts after the event. Plus, I know some boys are getting hotel rooms at the venue. Should I allow my daughter to participate? Any advice?
A. Allow her to go to the prom but that's all. If she participates in all these events as a sophomore she'll likely be bored with the folderol by time she herself is a senior. Kids grow up too fast these days as it is. What will she have to look forward to if she engages in all the prom events as a sophomore?
Some might argue that it's unfair for the young man who is a senior to miss the various parties, breakfasts, and sleepovers. Realistically, he can't expect his sophomore date to have the same privileges as he and neither should your daughter. He can attend the after parties without her.
Now ask yourself about your fears. Are you fearful that she'll be lured into an unfortunate sexual situation with this senior? Are you fearful that she will be temped to drink alcohol or try drugs? If these are your fears, address them with your daughter.
If your fears are legitimate, if this is the type of activity your daughter would encounter on an all-night prom extravaganza, then you'll do best by her to keep her away. It's clear that kids who delay getting involved sexually and postpone or abstain from using drugs or drinking alcohol are less likely to have problems with any of these activities in the future; the younger they start the worse it is for them. Realize, also, that if your daughter has an interest in any of these activities that keeping her home from the after-prom parties alone won't be a deterrent. You'll need to do some work to keep her safe, likely seek advice from a counselor.
She may be too immature to say "No" if her peers tempt her into any unsavory situations. If you determine this is the situation, by all means be mature enough to say "No" yourself. The pressure within teens to do as their peers is strong. You'll be shoveling sand against a powerful teenaged tide. Nevertheless, keep shoveling; you're doing so for her health, safety, and emotional well-being.
Now you probably hate to quell her excitement about the prom and the extraneous events. Therefore, be excited with her about the prom and then empathize with her about the disappointment she feels missing the parties after the prom. "I know you'd like to go to all the events. It's difficult when everyone else will be there and you won't, nevertheless, as a responsible parent, I can't allow you to stay out all night. And I certainly can't allow you to sleep at a hotel on prom night."
Go with her to buy her a beautiful dress and shoes. See that she has a fabulous hairdo and exotic fingernails and toenails. Invite a group to your home for dinner before the prom and insist she be home by 1:00.
Jan Faull, MEd, is a veteran parent educator and the author of four parenting books, including Darn Good Advice -- Baby and Darn Good Advice -- Parenting. She writes a biweekly parenting advice column for this site and a weekly parenting advice column in the Seattle Times. Jan Faull is the mother of three grown children and lives in the Seattle area.
Originally published on AmericanBaby.com, February 2007.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.