What Has Happened to Prom?

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.

So what are your thoughts on the “prom-posal”? 

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2 Responses to What Has Happened to Prom?

  1. Lindsay
    Lindsay May 5, 2017 at 8:49 am #


  2. Lauren P. May 5, 2017 at 11:28 am #

    I see what you mean. And someday when I’m a Mom, I’m guessing I’ll understand even more. But for someone who came out of the beginning of the “prom-posal” era (we didn’t call it that, that name started when I was in college), I liked it overall. But I think it depends on the person. Girls at my school DID get the spray tan, the brows waxed, and the eyelash extensions; but many (including myself) didn’t. (I’ll admit, I did get my nails done for a couple of the dances). But it depends on what your kids’ personality types are, in my opinion. I never felt like my parents were holding me back from all the “extras” of prom, I simply didn’t want them because they weren’t important to me. As far as how the guys ask, my parents always thought it was odd how the boys had to go to such great lengths just for a dance. We were taught in school that whether a guy asks in a super elaborate way or with a more simple gesture, the point is that he’s going out of his way to make you feel valued and worthy of pursuit, which I think is cool. In my 4 years of high school, I can’t remember one girl saying “no” to a guy asking her to the dance, whether the asking was extra elaborate or not. It may not have been the guy she wanted to go with but most (if not all) girls knew it was rude and kind of cold-hearted to turn a guy down after he put himself out there like that (disclaimer: unless that girl had a specific, personal reason to not go with that guy, of course, like a bad past relationship or that kind of thing). I will, however, point out that I knew plenty of girls who didn’t get asked and it was hard on them. Some girls were confident and knew they didn’t need a guy to have fun at prom, while others were pretty upset that they’re best friends were getting asked but they weren’t. To me, this is a bigger issue with prom. I’m guessing that’s been an issue since the concept of prom began, though, not just a recent struggle. And at the same time, that’s life (not always getting picked, getting told “no” for a job instead of “yes,” just rejection in general). Anyway, there were a lot of thoughts in there, so sorry for the very long comment. I may also be slightly biased – I married my high school sweetheart so the way he asked me to dances and the dances themselves are some of our most treasured memories now. And for the record, I do see your point(s) and I think you’re doing it right – setting boundaries for both kids (boy and girl) on what this whole prom thing looks like for your family, as every family’s will look different. (Not that you need affirmation from a stranger, just wanted to share anyway <3)

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