Prom time is here.
You already know to get out your cameras and checkbooks. My advice: Put on your detective hats, too.
Prom isn’t just about executing the perfect prom look. That’s just where the journey begins. Where it leads should be of just as much interest to parents: I’m talking about parties and partying. You need to be vigilant, both before and after the big event.
Last year a parent called me with this dilemma: Her daughter was hosting the post-prom sleepover with her girlfriends, who, earlier in the day, had dropped off all their sleepover gear in the basement rec room. The mom was wondering whether she should go through it, suspicious that there might be stashes of alcohol. She didn’t want to violate their privacy, but she was worried. I encouraged her to go ahead, and she was shocked by what she found: half-gallon bottles of booze folded in sleeping bags and pajamas.
With that cautionary tale in mind, here are some prom-proofing tips that will help keep everyone safe.
• Check their bags If your teen is going to someone else’s house, do a bag check just before they leave. If teens are coming to your house, let your teen know the house rules up front, and what the consequences will be for any friends who bring in alcohol or drugs. (Namely that their parents will be called to pick them up, immediately.)
• Communicate Talk directly to the hosting parent or, if you are the one hosting, call every parent to relay your expectations. If teens are coming to your house, make sure that you personally connect with each parent of the teens invited; do not rely on your teen to relay your expectations. Be clear about those expectations. Ask parents to make sure they pre-check their kid’s bag before they leave home.
• Don’t sleep on the job Stay up all night and be a presence. Just because the kids are in your basement does not mean they are necessarily safe. Remember that this is prom night, when teens may think that everyday rules don’t apply. They’re in mega-party mode and even normally reasonable kids are charged up for fun.
• Look around Check outside areas of your home for hidden stashes. Yes, teens may hide their booze in your shrubbery.
• Cover all the angles Be aware of alternative entrances to your home. Invited teens will come in your front door, other motivated partygoers will go to the back.
Should you be scared of proms? No. They’re a rite of passage, for you and for your teen. The key is to be prepared. If there’s any surprise to the occasion, let it be in the form of a wrist corsage.
Joani Geltman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.