It was 1992 and I was getting ready for prom. I borrowed a dress from a friend and was going with my high school boyfriend. We went to dinner, the dance and then we had a slumber party at a friend’s house. In the morning, her parents made breakfast for all 20 of us and we didn’t sleep one minute! It was a perfect night – simple, fun and what everyone at that time did for prom.
Fast forward 25 years and it’s a whole different world. Prom has become a HUGE deal and, as a parent of teenagers, I just don’t get it.
These days, it seems that boys can’t simply “ask” a girl to go to the prom the old fashioned way. They are expected to spend time, money, and a large amount of resources to do what’s often referred to as a “Prom-posal.” If you aren’t familiar with this social media event, these can put to shame many marriage proposals. I’ve seen anything from a simple poster board to a full out broadway musical number with costumes and choreography!
Aside from the time and money spent, what if a boy goes through all of that, and then gets turned down? Or if a girl knows a potential suitor is going to do the Prom-posal, where is the fun in the unexpected “ask?” Furthermore, if girls are growing up with the expectation of these elaborate asks for a one-night dance, how will her future husband ask her to spend the rest of his life with her? I mean, prom is just one night, not the next 50 years!
In my experience with prom these days, it’s not just the dress, the shoes or the hair that girls (usually their parents) spend money on. There is the makeup, the eyelash extensions, the brow wax, the manicures, pedicures and the ever important spray tan. Why on earth have we let this one night event get so out of hand? Out of hand monetarily and out of hand in expectations.
Here is what goes on in our house. It may not be right or popular or work for everyone. But it’s what works for us.
My boys keep their “ask” simple. A fun poster with cute wording that has to do with the girl goes a long way in making that girl feel special. Connecting the prom ask to her sport or activity shows her that my son spent time thinking of something she likes.
When my girls get to high school, they know full well that shopping for a dress and shoes will be done with fun, friends and lots of time. We will make our shopping a true mother-daugher-friend event that we will all cherish. But, my girls already know that if they want all those “extras” done, they will have to either find a friend to do it or pay for the service themselves.
Don’t get me wrong! I want all my kids to have a memorable prom night. I want them to feel special when they are all dressed up. I want them to get tired of smiling for hundreds of pictures. I want them to bond with their friends while getting ready and shopping for dresses. I want them to have a blast while dancing the night away and staying up all night making memories.
But I refuse to let that one night be blown out of proportion in cost and expectations. I refuse to let their idea of prom be one that will set them up for disappointment with future life events.