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Preparing for Prom

Steps To Reduce Stress When Preparing For Your Teen's Prom

For teenagers, prom night is the social event to mark the end of childhood. For mothers, it can be a preview to what a wedding will be like, as well as a walk down memory lane. "Just as there is not a single version of what an adolescent is, there is neither a single image of what a prom is," writes Amy Best in her book, Prom Night: Youth, Schools and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2000).

However, there is one prom universal: it's expensive. There is a dress to buy or a tux to rent, flowers, pictures, pre-prom dinner and post-prom activities, prom tickets, transportation, hair styling, plus whatever other incidentals teens deem necessary for a perfect night.

Before prom season kicks into high gear (usually right after Christmas) parents and teenagers should decide who will be responsible for prom expenses and what the prom budget should be. When sitting down for this talk, it would behoove parents to put aside memories of their own prom nights.

Today, proms are marketed like weddings, and newsstands are filled with magazines displaying prom "must-have" and "must-do" ideas. Best, who is an assistant professor of sociology at San Jose State University, says that along with increases in cost, there have been shifts in prom courtships and the way kids look at prom night, with the emphasis on fun over romance – things that must be taken into consideration when planning for prom.

Step 1: Be Dress Savvy

One thing that has not changed is the importance of the prom gown. For most girls, it is vital to find the perfect dress. Rarely is the perfect dress found in the first store they visit. In fact, most girls will haunt dozens of stores and try on dozens of dresses, both locally and out of town.

When shopping for the dress, a spending limit should be determined before going into the store. Sales clerks will ask your price range up front but will inevitably encourage your daughter to try on a dress a little more expensive than you want to spend. Those dresses will make your daughter look like a princess, but so will the ones in your price range. Conversely, don't set the price limit too low. In that case, your daughter may have trouble finding something she likes.

Most fathers (and some mothers) are blindsided by the idea of their little girl growing up, and they may fuss that a strapless gown or thigh-high slits are inappropriate. Before demanding that the dress be returned, get an impartial second opinion from parents you trust. If there is concern that the daughter will buy an inappropriate dress, a parent should be present when the dress is bought.

Step 2: Be Date Savvy

Parents of sons have a much easier time of it, as Best's research shows. The young man's date usually prefers to have some say in picking out the tux after her dress is bought.

The role of the prom date has changed considerably over the years. Although the majority of girls want an escort, they aren't looking for an evening of romance. In fact, Best points out in her book that many teenagers find having a boyfriend/girlfriend is a drag on prom night. Instead, they'd rather go as friends, either as a couple or in a group.

No matter if the prom date is a romantic relationship or "just buddies," parents need to be vigilant on the details of the evening, says Lee Ann Grisolano, visiting assistant professor of psychology at Lebanon Valley College. "Parents should know who their teens will be with, what they plan on doing, when they'll be changing activities and when they'll be coming home," she says.

Step 3: Be Rule Savvy

Being a teen also means being impulsive. "Parents should make it clear to teens what is acceptable behavior and what isn't, and enforce rules accordingly," Griolano says. "Teenagers are prone to making mistakes as they succumb to peer pressure and other factors that override common sense. Consequently, parents should build in safety measures to ensure their kids stay on the right track. She suggests periodic check-ins during the evening, providing transportation or offering their home as an alternate to other post-prom activities.

Best agrees, saying that parents and teenagers should collaborate to set reasonable boundaries, especially for things like curfews and post-prom activities.

What about chaperoning prom events? Bob Keller and his wife, Rebecca, of New Hope, Minn., decided to chaperone their daughter's prom. "We're motivated to be involved parents," Keller says. However, he adds that his daughter didn't like the idea of having Mom and Dad at the prom. Fortunately for Keller, she didn't make a big deal about it.

Before volunteering to chaperone, parents should ask their teen's opinion. Some kids are fine with it, but for others, having their parents watching will spoil the evening. After all, as Best reminds us, the prom is an event for adolescents.

  • Try to avoid getting too stressed while preparing for the big night, as the effects can show up on your skin.
  • While busy looking for the perfect outfit, accessories, date, etc., don't neglect your skin.
  • For kissable lips, go ahead, lay on the lip gloss! But avoid going over the lip line; this can block pores and cause blemishes on your perfect pout.
  • Be sure to use oil-free make up and skincare products that won't clog pores and cause breakouts.
  • If you have acne or a history of acne, try to use cosmetics sparingly.
  • Keep hair away from your face. Some hair care products can trigger a breakout.
  • Hands off! Never squeeze or "pop" your pimples. This can result in acne scars.
  • Stash a portable benzoyl peroxide acne treatment like Triaz Pads™ in your evening bag in case you feel a pimple coming on.
  • If you use acne medication such as benzoyl peroxide, use an oil-free moisturizer with SPF to protect skin from the sun and to counteract the drying effects.
  • Cleanse skin after sport activities to avoid breakouts brought on by sweat, headgear, chin straps, etc.

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