Prom night doesn't mean rules don't apply

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  May 11, 2011 06:00 AM

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Prom time. Ugh. I've been dreading this and now it's here. My son is in a party-hard group. I know there will be alcohol and I'm just praying they will not drive. I'm threatening to call the parents of the homes where parties are planned to ask them what they are doing to keep the kids safe. Is that going over-board? My son does not want me calling; there have been several scenes -- no other parent is this protective! Why don't you trust me?

Am I over-reacting?

From: Anxious in Andover, MA

Dear Anxious,

No, I don't think you're over-reacting at all. I think calling hosting parents is an excellent idea. I don't know why more parents don't do that, especially when so many parents seem to think it's OK to provide alcohol. It's not. I also don't understand why parents get so worked up at Prom time; it's not as if drinking, drugging and unsafe sex only happen on Prom weekend.

But yes, yes, Prom night is different in the eye's of most teens. Anecdotal evidence indicates that even teens who have never been risk-takers may try something new on Prom night. To make it special. Teens who are risk takers are likely to push the envelope.
So yes, this is not a night to worry about your son being unhappy with you. He'll get over it. The Prom doesn't mean that rules don't apply.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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6 comments so far...
  1. "no other parent is this protective!"

    Please. Is that what your son tells you? It isn't true. Sure, if he is in a "party hard" group then maybe those specific parents don't do much parenting -- that's how the kids get away with partying so much. But many parents have no issues with, you know, parenting. Calling to make sure there is going to be an adult there, and confirming that the adult isn't allowing alcohol at the party should be standard procedure.

    Since when is that overprotective?

    And for that matter, if your son is so untrustworthy -- and it sounds like he is (you are actually worried he or friends will drive drunk, putting their lives at risk and those of innocent bystanders) why are you allowing after-parties at all anyway? You do know that it is okay to tell a child -- even a sullen teenager -- "no," right?

    And yup, I am biased. My son has struggled with drinking and drugs in the past -- so, he is going to prom but NOT to any after-parties; he is coming home after. Because he has not earned the trust and the freedom to go to these parties.

    Posted by jjlen May 11, 11 11:09 AM
  1. I think even the most religious amongst us would never rely on prayer alone to keep our kids safe. Call parents. Set expectations. Have conversations. If you know alcohol will be present somewhere, why are you allowing your son to go at all? Be a parent!

    Posted by geocool May 11, 11 04:05 PM
  1. Why are you letting your son go to prom if you "know" there will be alcohol? It seems you are resigned to your son drinking when you say you just want to make sure they don't also drive.

    My advice is don't go down this slippery slope. It shouldn't be acceptable to you that your high school son is drinking at all, even if he isn't driving. If anything, I think you are not being strict enough. Why would you allow your son to go to prom and then parties afterward with kids you know will be drinking? Even if parents say they won't be providing alcohol, it's often easy enough for kids to sneak liquor down to the basement.

    Posted by Marie May 13, 11 08:10 AM
  1. I am a mom to a teenager attending prom this year as well so I completely understand. She's a really smart kid but no matter how smart you are at 17, its not smart enough sometimes. She tells me that a lot of kids pop pills now because of all the attention/stories about kids drinking at prom or after prom. Frankly, I'd rather she have a glass of wine (which is her sophisticated drink of choice) than pop some drugs with the other kids. But we had a pretty good talk about prom night and she agreed with me that there are plenty of other nights to get drunk and get into trouble. Better to not do it at a school function. I trust her because she has earned my trust.

    I think with your son, its about trust. I personally wouldn't call the other parents. I would have your husband talk to him if possible. I think with boys sometimes it comes out better from a man. If he is going to party, short of locking him in his room, there is very little you can do to stop it. The more you rage about it, the more he will rebel. I think prom night is really not the night to be a drunken fool because there are far reaching consequences beyond my parental authority. You can be suspended. That effects your college record. It effects your reputation. Etc. Etc. If your son is a good kid and you trust him, you have to say your peace and be done with it. You've dedicated your life to helping him make good decisions. Hopefully for one night, he can make his own good decisions.

    Posted by Anothermomwithteengoingtoprom May 13, 11 08:17 AM
  1. Since I still remember all of my stupid decisions when I went to the prom, I'll provide my best realistic advice possible.

    If you know your son hangs with a party crowd, then you know he's likely going to drink on prom night and many other nights. Most of the students in my high school did drink on prom night, even the ones who went off to Ivy League or Baptist universities. The most important thing here is keeping your son safe! There are so many stories of young teens dying in drunk driving accidents, that it eventually scared me enough to be more responsible in my college years.

    You need to have a very serious conversation with him about drunk driving and show him the stories of these individuals who died too early in life. And, you need to talk to him about drinking in moderation and the serious effects of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs, (another teenage pastime).

    I really think forbidding someone from prom or telling them not to drink will not solve the problem. They need to be educated in the dangers of their decisions.

    And, to really keep him safe...make sure he has a phone number of a taxi company and tell him you will pay for him to take a cab home if necessary. Others might disagree that this encourages drinking, but really it encourages safety on a night when most are going to drink anyway.

    Posted by Sarah May 17, 11 10:41 AM
  1. im a freshman in highschool i have not had my prom yet and yeah my parents r over protective yeah i have done some stupid stunts but thats no reason to ruin the 2 best night of highschool.

    Posted by Sarah March 20, 13 05:51 PM
 
6 comments so far...
  1. "no other parent is this protective!"

    Please. Is that what your son tells you? It isn't true. Sure, if he is in a "party hard" group then maybe those specific parents don't do much parenting -- that's how the kids get away with partying so much. But many parents have no issues with, you know, parenting. Calling to make sure there is going to be an adult there, and confirming that the adult isn't allowing alcohol at the party should be standard procedure.

    Since when is that overprotective?

    And for that matter, if your son is so untrustworthy -- and it sounds like he is (you are actually worried he or friends will drive drunk, putting their lives at risk and those of innocent bystanders) why are you allowing after-parties at all anyway? You do know that it is okay to tell a child -- even a sullen teenager -- "no," right?

    And yup, I am biased. My son has struggled with drinking and drugs in the past -- so, he is going to prom but NOT to any after-parties; he is coming home after. Because he has not earned the trust and the freedom to go to these parties.

    Posted by jjlen May 11, 11 11:09 AM
  1. I think even the most religious amongst us would never rely on prayer alone to keep our kids safe. Call parents. Set expectations. Have conversations. If you know alcohol will be present somewhere, why are you allowing your son to go at all? Be a parent!

    Posted by geocool May 11, 11 04:05 PM
  1. Why are you letting your son go to prom if you "know" there will be alcohol? It seems you are resigned to your son drinking when you say you just want to make sure they don't also drive.

    My advice is don't go down this slippery slope. It shouldn't be acceptable to you that your high school son is drinking at all, even if he isn't driving. If anything, I think you are not being strict enough. Why would you allow your son to go to prom and then parties afterward with kids you know will be drinking? Even if parents say they won't be providing alcohol, it's often easy enough for kids to sneak liquor down to the basement.

    Posted by Marie May 13, 11 08:10 AM
  1. I am a mom to a teenager attending prom this year as well so I completely understand. She's a really smart kid but no matter how smart you are at 17, its not smart enough sometimes. She tells me that a lot of kids pop pills now because of all the attention/stories about kids drinking at prom or after prom. Frankly, I'd rather she have a glass of wine (which is her sophisticated drink of choice) than pop some drugs with the other kids. But we had a pretty good talk about prom night and she agreed with me that there are plenty of other nights to get drunk and get into trouble. Better to not do it at a school function. I trust her because she has earned my trust.

    I think with your son, its about trust. I personally wouldn't call the other parents. I would have your husband talk to him if possible. I think with boys sometimes it comes out better from a man. If he is going to party, short of locking him in his room, there is very little you can do to stop it. The more you rage about it, the more he will rebel. I think prom night is really not the night to be a drunken fool because there are far reaching consequences beyond my parental authority. You can be suspended. That effects your college record. It effects your reputation. Etc. Etc. If your son is a good kid and you trust him, you have to say your peace and be done with it. You've dedicated your life to helping him make good decisions. Hopefully for one night, he can make his own good decisions.

    Posted by Anothermomwithteengoingtoprom May 13, 11 08:17 AM
  1. Since I still remember all of my stupid decisions when I went to the prom, I'll provide my best realistic advice possible.

    If you know your son hangs with a party crowd, then you know he's likely going to drink on prom night and many other nights. Most of the students in my high school did drink on prom night, even the ones who went off to Ivy League or Baptist universities. The most important thing here is keeping your son safe! There are so many stories of young teens dying in drunk driving accidents, that it eventually scared me enough to be more responsible in my college years.

    You need to have a very serious conversation with him about drunk driving and show him the stories of these individuals who died too early in life. And, you need to talk to him about drinking in moderation and the serious effects of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs, (another teenage pastime).

    I really think forbidding someone from prom or telling them not to drink will not solve the problem. They need to be educated in the dangers of their decisions.

    And, to really keep him safe...make sure he has a phone number of a taxi company and tell him you will pay for him to take a cab home if necessary. Others might disagree that this encourages drinking, but really it encourages safety on a night when most are going to drink anyway.

    Posted by Sarah May 17, 11 10:41 AM
  1. im a freshman in highschool i have not had my prom yet and yeah my parents r over protective yeah i have done some stupid stunts but thats no reason to ruin the 2 best night of highschool.

    Posted by Sarah March 20, 13 05:51 PM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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