What do we know about teens every day? They can be brilliant. Yet, they don’t make good decisions in the moment. They are funny but at times can get carried away. They crave independence. In fact, they need it. They are risk takers. This allows them to explore the world beyond their home but can open doors to dangers. They want to feel like they fit in and belong, just like the rest of us, but bigger, much, much bigger. For this reason, they are more prone to both positive and negative peer influence. As parents and guardians, it is important to recognize, they also want to make good decisions for themselves and most of the time they do, but it helps when parents provide guidance and guardrails.
What is different about prom night than every other night? A few things, they are feeling more adult-like than usual and look it. They are probably going to be out most of the night. And, they may be operating with false expectations regarding what should happen.
To help keep them safe, we recommend you take some time to preplan with your teen. To keep it simple, we have developed a checklist for things to do before they go out and when they return home. This list can be used all year for every occasion.
Before they go out…
___ Set a curfew and discuss consequences if they break it. (For prom, this could be early morning if they attend their school’s After Prom. If they don’t, you probably want to make it earlier.)
___ Ask them where they will be, what they plan to do, and who they will be with. (For prom, don’t be happy with, “I’m going to prom.” Find out where they will be eating, who they will be with them, where they plan to change their clothes prior to After-Prom and who will be driving.)
___ Ask what their plan is if alcohol and marijuana are there and ensure they have the words to refuse an offer.
___ Tell them they can call you at any time for help if they feel unsafe.
___ Tell them to keep their cell phone with them and not to make any changes to the itinerary without first talking with you.
___ Tell them they need to speak with you as soon as they come home, even if they have to wake you up.
Upon returning home…
___ Either be awake or make sure your teen knows to wake you.
___ Have a conversation with your teen to make sure they are coherent.
___ Check for signs and smells of alcohol or marijuana use. (Some parents require their teens to kiss them on the cheek so they can get a good smell. Determine what works for your family.)
___ Ask how the evening went and if there were any problems.
Going through this checklist will not only go a long way to keep your teen safe, it will provide you peace of mind. With that, you can enjoy watching them light up over the excitement of the evening and more comfortably await their safe return.