Warmer weather. Longer days. The end of the school year.
All things many of you look forward to, I’m sure.
Then there’s PROM.
Some of you may not have teens who are old enough to go to prom. My hope is that the tips in this article will still be useful if your teen is hoping to go to Homecoming, Winter Formal or a Valentine’s Day dance. Or maybe even their very first dance – usually in middle school.
The prom pressures surrounding dates, outfits, transportation, drinking, after-parties and general safety can be daunting for teens and parents alike. Each of these topics are worth talking about and carefully considering with your teen.
Let’s tackle these one at a time.
First, consider why your teen may not have a date.
Did your child ask someone and get turned down? Or did they not get asked? Perhaps they are too scared to ask someone to the dance. You may want to adapt your questions a bit based on the reason they are currently dateless. Overall, these questions can be applied in pretty much any situation!
I suspect you might find that some or all of your teen’s answers to these questions may be heavily influenced by the culture of their school and classmates. They may be feeling pressure to have a date because “everyone else will have one.” This could be your teen’s perception, or it could be true that singles simply do not go to prom at this school.
Could your child’s current dating status be playing a role in their feelings about prom? A recent break up or never having dated could influence how they are feeling. Their desire and ability to find a date could also be tied to their relationship status and history.
If your son or daughter is LGBTQ, they could be concerned about how their date may be perceived, or if they would even be welcomed as a non-heterosexual couple. Your child’s race and that of their desired date could be an influencing factor. So could your teen’s perception of your family’s financial ability to send them to prom. These are all important to talk about if they apply to your family. Don’t be afraid to ask – tough questions really are much better than leaving a huge elephant in the room.
Side note: This is not a time to try and coax your teen out of the closet (if you have suspicions) or to be critical of the race or financial situations of others. Stick to the relevant issues of your teen’s feelings about their high school prom.
Once you have this conversation, I'd love to hear about it! Come back and drop me a line about how these questions worked with your teen.
Ready for more "What to Say When" help for Prom?
What to Say About Your Teen Daughter's Prom Dress
What to Say About Prom Safety
Bethany Raab is a Denver-based social worker who loves helping teens and their families be happy and healthy!