Ahh…. The Prom, what an exciting and momentous event in a young persons life, the gowns, the tuxedos, the decorated hall, the pictures, the music, all of these things come together to commemorate what, exactly?
I believe Prom night started as a way to celebrate the next stage of life, a ceremonial crossing from childhood to maturity and frosted with a touch of the magical. Prom night is a special night for teenagers and their parents.
As parents, we love giving our children magical moments and why shouldn’t we? They will have enough of harsh reality as an adult. Providing a night of fun and festivity is wonderful break in the routine work of parenting. Parenting has its joy but sometimes it is just plain work. Our jobs as parents are to love, teach and protect. Protecting is one of the most difficult assignments as a parent.
Proms these days have much risk attached to them. Statistics for prom night traffic fatalities is enough to make some parents quake with fear and for many parents; tragedy shrouds what should have been a beautiful memory. Still the solution doesn’t have to be to keep your child from participating because there is a risk of danger.
Can a parent allow a little magical memory without worrying that the gift will turn sour? Must we drape a cloak of reality over every festive event? Is it ok for our children to attend their Prom or is that irresponsible parenting? Instead of a loaf of bread are we handing our children a snake?
Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
How can we make sure that the gifts we are giving our children are good gifts? Where do we draw that fine line between fun and protection? Especially, when the realities include statistics like the 1981 Guttmacher Institute study that reported by age 20, 81 percent of unmarried males and 60 percent of unmarried females have engaged in sexual intercourse. Keep in mind that study was in 1981! In the last twenty years, the rate has soared through the roof! Given those statistics is your child safe at an all night party following the Prom?
Prom night with all of its elegance and romance may take on the feel of a practice wedding to a young starry-eyed teenager. It is fun to pretend to be grown up and do grown up things. Parents, however, need to exercise strong desecration. Our job is to protect our children. It would be a tragedy for a night of innocence to become a practice wedding night because we didn’t provide a strong enough boundary. While our teenagers may look very grown up in their formal dress, it isn’t enough to clothe them with wisdom.
Here are some commonsense preparations that parents should make before purchasing the prom gown or renting the tuxedo.
The same, 1981 Guttmacher Institute, study reported that some children are becoming sexually involved as early as 11 years in age. If you have been thinking that it is too early to start teaching your child about sex, think again. I once heard a speaker tell teenagers that when you are in the backseat of a car under the moonlight, it’s too late to decide how you feel about premarital sex. The same line of thought applies to parents. The week of the Prom is too late to talk with your teen about sex and your views about purity.
Just because “all of the other kids are doing it” doesn’t mean that your child needs to follow suit. It’s not easy to say “No” to what your teen perceives as harmless. Repeat after me “I am the parent. You are the child.”
A well-designed plan will help keep the fun and magic of Prom night alive. Your children might even rise up and call you blessed, although, I wouldn’t expect that until after their teen years.