This post is for parents on the front lines of Senior Prom. You’re facing a battle for your teen’s safety because it’s not uncommon for teens to have first-time sex after their prom. My teen spies tell me that they know of peers who are renting hotel rooms, especially when they are established couples.
Teens in relationships may have discussed sex and negotiated boundaries already, but other teens may need to make decisions on the spot. You can help your teen make informed choices by discussing post-prom possibilities and responses.
Discuss the possibility of a date’s expectation of sexual activity. Your teen should be prepared with either a) contraceptives; or b) a comfortable way to turn down sexual advances. Contraceptives are easy — either your teen already has them, or you can drop some condoms and an over-the-counter method (foam, film, inserts, gel) in your teen’s room. Just in case.
If your teen doesn’t want to have sex, it’s important to emphasize that your teen must communicate directly and consistently that sex isn’t going to happen on prom night. Remember that both males and females can be pressured to have sex.
Step One: Tell your teen to decline invitations to go to a private hotel room, a home without parents present, the beach or a lookout point, etc. Even group situations can get dicey if couples pair off and disappear, leaving your teen alone with a date.
Step Two: Have a response in mind to get out of pressured situations: “I like you, but we need to spend more time together before we consider having sex,” “It’s really important to me to wait until I’m older/monogamous/married, etc.,” “I like you, but I have get home by curfew or my parents will ground me for weeks.”
Discuss drugs and alcohol and their impact on reasoned decision making, i.e., after using drugs or alcohol, your teen will no longer be able to make reasoned decisions. Also discuss the risks of driving under the influence.
Discuss the importance of driving without distractions. No texting, phone use, tickling, rough housing, yelling, or any other distracting behavior.
Attend the pre-prom photo session. Sure, you can say you’re there to shoot pics of everyone all decked out, but you can also see whether the hosting parents are serving booze. Serving alcohol to minors is a crime in most places, even in a private home.
Know who your teen will be hanging out with before, during, and after the prom. Collect cell phone numbers for at least two of your teen’s prom-night friends.
Insist on check-in calls when you teen leaves the prom and arrives at the post-prom destination. If that’s your home, consider making pancakes or another early-morning snack so you can connect with your teen and ensure everything’s OK.
Prom should be a highlight of your teen’s years in high school. By helping your teen think through possible scenarios, you can help your teen have great prom memories.