Prom — a time of exhilaration and celebration for teens eager to get out and enjoy themselves, but a nerve-wracking test of trust for even the most “laid back” parents. When your teen is eager to hang out with their friends and head to the event in style, here are a few important – non-intrusive – tips you can use to keep them safe.
Teens may fib or push curfew now and then, but their parents should know where they are whenever possible. Discuss your expectations for their whereabouts, including when you expect a “check-in” call, clearly and often. Then, make sure that you call them as well.
Resist the urge to test your teen and reach out to them if they don’t reach out to you first. Remember, it’s easy to get caught up in conversations with friends, and they can forget for innocent reasons.
Teens don’t want a chaperone, but they need a driver. Make a deal with your teen and their friends that they can call you with no consequences if their other ride option is intoxicated or impaired.
When teens know they have a safe way to get home, they’re less likely to chance driving while intoxicated or riding in a car with an impaired driver. If you make yourself a safe ally, friends of your teen that may otherwise be reluctant to approach a parent may confide in you – ensuring your teen stays safe as well.
Whether it’s keeping a close eye on their drinks at a party or agreeing to walk as a group to any car parked in an unfamiliar place, there is strength in numbers. Encourage your teen to hang out with friends they know and trust, and to form a plan among themselves for how to help one another get out of questionable situations.
While honesty and transparency are an important part of communication with your teen, discuss the possibility of knowingly placing tracking or GPS apps on their phone to help you stay in contact.
Rather than having your teen head to an unfamiliar “after-party” once the prom has concluded, consider letting your teen and their friends stay at your house. This will allow you to keep an eye on the festivities and ensure that any of your teen’s friends that are impaired are in a safe place, and can get home safely as well. This isn’t necessarily an approach that your teen will embrace, but better to make the offer and have it turned down. Teens can be, after all, full of surprises.
Prom season is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for teens, and with a watchful, caring parent ready to guide them through it, it will be a great memory as they grow older.