Dear Miss Emily Post,
Recently, my daughter went to the prom. It took me a week to recover – I’m serious. The upheaval to our family life was one that will be remembered for a long, long time. The weeks leading up to prom and going to the prom are an intense time – especially for girls and us moms. The pressure on these girls to be beautiful and to ‘grow up’ is way over the top. Clashes of expectations swirled around for everyone.
I want to warn parents about what they are about to get into.
It all begins when a teen starts to ponder, “Should I go to prom?” If the answer is: Yes – then the flurry of questions begins. Do I go with a date or go with a group? My daughter was ‘coached’ by her older brother to get a date if she wanted to stay within a decent budget. Why? Prom tickets are $100 each and her prom budget was $200 total. Let’s just say plenty of fierce negotiating happened and she got waaaaay over budget. We stayed strong. Yes, she borrowed money from us and has to work to pay us back the next couple months. It wasn’t pretty.
Here’s a list of what parents must ponder with todays’ teens.
Clothes/Dress – Endure never ending shopping & more shopping to find the perfect dress. “Quick, I need to upload a picture to a website so the dress isn’t worn by any other girl!” My daughter exclaimed. My question, “Why the rushed competition?”
Travel plans – Who’s going with whom? How are they getting there and home? The prospect of 16 – 17 year olds driving on I-85 in 7 lanes of traffic? Oh my. Are they going in a group? Who likes/dislikes whom?
Beauty – Hair / Make up / Nails / Spray tan. Know the norm is for the girls to get a spray tan before the big day and don’t forget to have their nails done. On ‘the day’ realize they want to get their hair and make up done by a ‘professional’. I made the dreaded mistake of working half a day on the day of prom (what was I thinking?). When I got home at 1:30 pm my feet didn’t hit a couch until 9:00 pm that night.
On top of everything else our dog Lucy ran away when my daughter left the door open to let the hairdresser in. So I’m scouring the neighborhood and yelling “Lucy” at the top of my lungs until 15 min before my daughters date arrived. Let’s just say lacing up her dress in a hurry wasn’t gentle.
Flowers – The day before the prom we had to change the boutonniere order to get a matching ribbon to her dress. The florist assured us they don’t add ribbons. I saw the pictures. My daughters was one of the only ones that didn’t have a matching ribbon.
Another, Oh no, “I’m not a good enough mom moment’.
Pictures – Some parents think this is an Academy award winning night and will send professional photographers to the picture taking event. Me? I had my i-phone. My daughters group picture location changed so often that I went to the clubhouse and it was changed to a house. So, guess who has a few pics from the house but none with friends. Yep, me.
Do you trust me? Where will they spend the night? The day before prom we were asked if she could ‘sleep over’ at a co-ed sleep over so you can imagine the flurry of phone calls that prompted. Oh, the trust issues. . . the letting go issues.
I could go on and on and on. The drama continued all night long. Let me stop here because you get the point.
Life has a way of giving us surprises and not being what we expected. Parenting has never been easy. Raising teens in this day and age is fraught with potholes at every turn. Here’s what I want other parents to know. You can get through this. Be ready with the values you hold dear and know what you will and will not accept. Every boundary will be tested. Keep breathing . . . deeply.
Remember, in just a year or two this teen will be on their own and will soon enough have to make all these decisions themselves.
Let your teen know, “You can do this, but I’m here if you need me.”
Tired, but still fighting the good fight,
Mom & Dad