The deluge of chartreuse gathering on our cars and trees and dripping from our nostrils and down into our throats can only mean one thing… prom and graduation season has arrived. If you went to, have a child going to, will have a child going to at some point in their lives, know someone who is going, or have seen proms and graduations in movies, then this post is for you! You are welcome! (Although you might want to pour a glass of wine, grab your crucifix, and curse me when you read what I have to say.)
For many, when you hear about prom season, you reminisce on puffy sleeves, tea-length frocks, teased hair, and swaying to Peter Cetera with the love of your life. If only you could remember his name. You might remember the epic party and the 3 Zimas you drank with Jolly Ranchers in the bottom. You may think of your old pal, Donna Martin, and the pride you felt as the West Beverly students marched from the school to the board office to support her in her drunken mishap at prom.
Who has read this blog and thought, “Oh this is so true. I need to be having radical, open conversations with my kids. I will do that tomorrow.” Now, raise your hand if you haven’t found a tomorrow that works with your schedule or where you won’t feel awkward? I see you, I see you over there too, and I don’t even want to acknowledge that you have kept your mouth shut, you never shut up! So parents, adults, friends, I beg you. If you never have a conversation with your kid like this, DO IT NOW. Prom and graduation parties are some of the best times of your life. They are also times when you make the biggest mistakes of your life. It does not matter if your child is president of the FCA, a Young Life leader, has a True Love Waits ring, and single-handedly organized the MADD dance-a-thon last week. Teenagers make mistakes, they make bad decisions, they fall to peer pressure. Were you ever a teen? My challenge, nay, my DEMAND, to you is this: have a radical, open conversation with your child before the prom and graduation season begins. It could be the swinging factor that keeps you in your comfy Ugg-like shoes that symbolize all of your family being safe, or trading them in for the Steel boot-6 inch stiletto numbers that my famiy and I know stumble through life wearing.
I know that it is beyond awkward to have a conversation with your kid about drugs, alcoholl, and heaven forbid s-e-x. You know what is even more awkward? Having a conversaiton with a teenager who is dead while you walk around Target and peope stare at you. So, I’ll be your scapegoat. Tell your kids that this crazy, stalkerish, outspoken nut has threatened to unearth your organic garden and erase your DVRs if you don’t have this conversation with them. Blame it on me. Then, use Molly as a scapegoat. Tell her story. Tell the child in your life that you can’t handle the thought of losing them, much less turning into the loons that the Garners have morphed in to.
I’m no Dr. Phil, Oprah, or even the guy from Scared Straight. I don’t have expert advice, but I do have experience advice to guide you as you talk to your kid about their safety during these milestone events.
- Don’t just tell them that drugs, alcohol, and s-e-x are bad.
- Do tell them that you wish they would abstain from all, but that you were once a teenager and know that these temptations are inevitable.
- Don’t be afraid to share some dumb stuff you’ve done.
- Do show them the Beverly Hills, 90210 episode where Donna doesn’t realize how her body responds to alcohol so she doesn’t know how it will affect her. Ask your child if they think that the whole student body will walk out for them. Remind them that in 1993, if there were high-stakes testing going on instead of course finals, then Brandon and the gang would’ve stayed in class.
- Don’t forget to remind your kids that their brains aren’t developed and they lack some necessary decision-making skills.
- Do something radical. Tell your child that they get a free pass. Tell them that before they get in a car with someone who has been drinking, drive themselves while intoxicated, or get in a scary situation with a member of the opposite gender that they get a free pass. This free pass means that they can call you at any point, in any shape they are in, to come get them with no questions asked and no punishments given. If you get that call, you might be mad or irritated, but wouldn’t you rather get that call than one from the hospital or coroner?
- Don’t be afraid to discuss safe s-e-x practices with your child before prom.
- Don’t hesitate to share Molly’s story with them. She didn’t use safe sex practices, and she kept that a secret from her family.
- Do this for me. Do this for my family, because we did not.
Do it, do it now. This was Molly’s junior prom. Her senior prom dress still hangs in my closet. Don’t let your daughter’s dress or son’s tux, be unworn. Have the conversation , or I’ll erase your DVR and dig up your organic garden.
More than meat loves salt,