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The Perils of the “Perfect” Prom

April 7th, 2016     By Boys Town Contributor

dating, Prom, Social Skills, Teens

Prom season is right around the corner, and there’s nothing quite like a high school formal to send everyone into hysterics as they search for perfection—the perfect dress, the perfect date, the perfect hair, the perfect shoes, the perfect ride, the perfect dinner, the perfect after party, etc.

Girls can obsess (for months) over finding a one-of-a-kind dress, with accessories to match everything from their hair to their heels.

Boys can work hard to find dates, and once found, worry how they’re going to arrive in style (dad’s car, a regular limo or stretch SUV?). And then there’s the recent rise of the “promposal,​” which can even overshadow the prom itself in terms of social media stress.

The thing is, teens focus on the details that matter to them, but it’s the parents who are left to deal with the fallout when the expenses and expectations soar beyond what’s reasonable or attainable.

Prom is a billion-dollar industry because marketers, teens and many parents have given this high school dance the same reverence as a wedding, with a price tag to match.

But let’s not forget that the whole purpose of any school-sponsored formal is to give young people the chance to try out their social skills at a fancy event. That’s why it’s important to remind your daughter (or your son) that prom is really an opportunity to practice social behaviors that will come in handy later in life.

She needs to learn how to walk, talk, dress, and act appropriately in formal situations. It also is a time to enjoy friends and make great memories—memories free of sorrow and disappointment.

Speaking of dressing appropriately, let’s talk about that for a second. As a parent, you should be informed as to the dress code of the event in question, so call the school and find out before you go shopping. Then, talk to your teen about the budget for the evening—this includes the dress, of course, but also shoes, hair, nails, makeup, etc. You should not have to strain yourself for what is after all just a high school dance.

Once your budget is set, it’s time to go shopping for that illusive “perfect dress.” Look for one that’s comfortable and allows your daughter to sit, stand, get in and out of a car and, most of all, dance. If it’s too tight, short or low-cut that she can’t do any of those things without ripping a seam or causing a scene, then it’s not the right dress for her.

And if your teen throws tantrums or makes demands that will blow prom way out of proportion, remember this:

If they can’t have a reasonable response or accept “no” for an answer in a conversation about going to prom, then your child probably doesn’t have the skills or the maturity to attend prom in the first place.

With some guidance and creativity, not to mention lots of communication, you and your high school teen can both stay sane and enjoy prom season!

Discover more prom survival tips for parents on our website.

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