Prepping for a Safe Prom: Communication
April 22, 2011
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
Prom season is fast-approaching and many parents are busy helping their teens gear up for one of the most exciting time in their teen’s life. Often overlooked is the need for these preparations to include frank, specific, and honest discussions with teens about how to stay safe and avoid alcohol or drugs on prom night.
Most of the teens shrug off their parents’ advice, believing the discussion stems from parents not understanding that their teens just want to have a fun carefree night. But in reality, this comes from a place of understanding: these parents had proms in their day, and know how easily things can spiral out of control. It’s usually guidance on helping teens avoid decisions they might regret.
Here are some tips on exactly what to discuss:
- Communicate with other parents; then, talk to your teen about their friends’ parents. Being part of a social group does not guarantee that other parents share the idea of a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol. Some parents even choose to “look the other way” when hosting teen get-togethers, reasoning that at least, the teens are in a “safe” environment. This is illegal in any state. Communicate with these other parents to find out if they know where their teens will be after prom night. Even better, if the teens plan to spend time in another teen’s home, find out if the parents are willing to chaperone. Communicate the importance of accounting and locking up alcohol in their homes. When communicating with your teen, make sure that they know that it’s always alright to say “no.” Ask if they will be riding with teens whose parents also have a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol.
- Come up with a safety code. This could be something a teen may text their parent if they are in an uncomfortable situation, and they need an exit. Something like a code to signal, “get me out of here!” On your end, make sure that your teen knows that you will be discrete upon receiving this code. This could also be something that a teen can do to “check in” with their parents. Maybe texting something like, “dinner was awesome!” could mean that the teen has arrived at an after-prom destination safely.
- Discuss the teen’s planned itinerary for the evening, and require the teen to inform you of any changes. Make teens feel they could trust you not to bug them on prom night, if they promise to keep their end of the bargain by checking in and informing you of any changes in the plan.
Doing so will hopefully make prom night a “night to remember,” instead of being “the night when my mom bugged me all night, until I got home.” Pre-plan, communicate and have fun!