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Prom & Graduation

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How parents can help make prom night safe without sacrificing fun

Prom night is a milestone occasion for teenagers. High school seniors may see prom night as one of their last hurrahs with their classmates, many of whom they might have known since they were in preschool.

Prom night has its pressures, and that pressure is not exclusive to teenagers worried about slow dances or after-parties. Parents want their children to have fun on prom night, but they also want to emphasize how important it is that their teenagers make safe, smart decisions throughout the night. That can make parents feel like they're walking a tightrope, as they want to reassure their youngsters that they're trusted while simultaneously reinforcing the lesson that they must be responsible on prom night.

Thankfully, parents are not helpless when it comes to making prom night safe for their children. The following are some ways parents can do their part to ensure prom night is a safe experience for their children and their children's friends.

• Work in conjunction with other parents and educators. Contact other parents well in advance of prom night and work together to provide a safe, alcohol-free post-prom environment. Some schools may even sponsor such an event, and parents can inquire with the principal of their child's school and even volunteer to participate in such events if the school offers them.

• Speak with limo drivers. Renting a limousine can add a special touch of class to prom night. Parents of children who are riding in style to prom can speak with limo drivers before kids depart for the venue to make sure they do not make any pitstops on the way to or from the prom. That includes kids' homes, as teenagers may stash alcohol at home and try to go back and get it after all the pictures have been taken and parents believe kids are en route to prom.

• Discuss the pressures of prom night with your child. Parents should acknowledge the pressures teenagers may face on prom night and discuss them openly with their children. Recognize that those pressures are real, but point out to kids that popular depictions of prom night, such as those featured in movies, are not necessarily accurate. Some kids may pressure classmates to consume alcohol and engage in sexual behavior, but plenty of promgoers just want to have some pressure-free fun. Encourage teenagers to discuss the pressures of prom night with their friends, and they'll no doubt find like-minded classmates who only want to enjoy a fun, pressure-free night.

• Remind kids that you're on call all night long. Parents can remind their teenagers that they're on call throughout prom and any post-prom parties. Assure them that their safety is your utmost concern and that they should not hesitate to call you out of a fear of reprisal if they feel unsafe or incapable of getting home.

Parents are understandably concerned about their children's safety on prom night. There are many things moms and dads can do ensure prom night is memorable for all the right reasons.

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