Prom Night = Parental Insomnia

Prom is significant time in the lives of our teenagers. It is an event they will remember for many, many years to come. We all probably remember ours, don’t we? The teens know this and they work hard to make it a special night. There is a great deal of planning and preparation prior to prom. Even the invitation to ask someone to go to prom has become a big deal, often captured in video that goes viral on the internet. The dresses are purchased, and are very expensive, limousines are chartered, fancy dinner reservations are made and after prom events are scheduled that last until dawn. It is doubtful that anything short of a wedding or week long vacation gets this much planning, and pressure to ‘get it right’ in the lives of an adult.

With all of that distraction, pressure, excitement, peer pressure, emotion and stress it is not surprising that kids may make some poor decisions. It is our job to help them make good decisions and to stay focused on taking care of themselves. Our parental instinct to protect them is challenged in this season. They are going out and we can’t control everything that happens while they are away from us. Some parents would like to chaperone – in the car – at dinner – at the dance – at the after prom but, that isn’t typically going to happen. So, we need to equip them to make good choices.

Car crashes are one of the greatest threats to our kids on prom night and they remain the number one killer of teenagers in this country. The preparation you have done to make your kids good drivers is key to keeping them safe. But, they may forget their training at this emotionally charged time so, we are giving you a few reminders you can share with them throughout this season. Try giving them a tip every other day for a few weeks, then the week before prom step it up to every day. It just might help them to stay focused on keeping themselves safe.

• To drive safer, stay on well-lit roads. If you have to get out of your car be sure to have a charged cell phone with you at all times.
• Make sure that your date and/or driver does not drink any alcohol or any other drug that impairs your judgment and performance.
• During weekends and ‘date nights’ there tend to be more drunk drivers on the road.
• Always keep a watch for oncoming traffic, as impaired drivers tend to drive toward lights. (And will cross over on to your side of the road.)
• Before you leave home, have directions to where you are going on prom night and leave a copy with your parents.
• Plan ahead—make sure you have a safe plan for prom night. Include a contingency in case things don’t go as planned – maybe your ride has a drink, what will you do?
• Discuss your plans with your friends, remind each other about responsible decision-making and confronting peer pressure.
• Remember to keep your cell phone charged, turned on and with you at all times.
• Know where you are and where your plans will take you next; keep your parents and friends informed.
• Remember to contact your parents if your plans change.
• Do not allow anyone in your car or limo that has alcohol, drugs or weapons. It is dangerous and everyone in the car is at risk of being arrested.
• Protect yourself – if something even feels a little unsafe, take action and remove yourself from the situation. Get out of the car if needed, your parents will be GLAD to come pick you up.
• Your safety is more important than peer pressure – the decision to go against the peer pressure will be very difficult but, it just might save your life and the lives of your friends that see you making a good decision.
• We suggest that you make sure your teen knows that you, as parents would much rather get a call from them, even if they have made bad decisions and mistakes and need help than to get a call from someone else reporting that they were hurt by those decisions.
• We recommend that you make Prom night a conflict free night. Make sure thy can call for help and get it without lecture, judgment or negative energy. Their good decisions to ‘bail out’ should go a long way to reducing consequences from their earlier bad decisions.

Many of these tips were distributed by the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles and we share them with their permission.