Dr. Susan Newman, author of The Book of NO, give parents tips to ease the anxiety of their child’s first dance.
WORRY ONE: Dances are basically foreplay for teen sex. I’ve discussed responsibility with my kid, but I am worried the advice will be forgotten after a night of dancing and too many episodes of Gossip Girl.
SAYS THE DOCTOR: The values and advice you have shared with your teenager hopefully have “sunk in” by the time prom rolls around. It is up to your child to be smart when it comes to sex. Worry about things you can orchestrate. How your child will be influenced or act is pretty much out of your control. Send your child off to have fun, but with a quiet reminder to be careful.
WORRY TWO: Someone else’s kids are going to get drunk and drive. How do I warn my kid without sounding like a public service announcement?
SAYS THE DOCTOR: You absolutely want to sound like a public service announcement! In the weeks leading up to the dance, remind your child of teen drunk driving tragedies. You can soften your parental stand by reminding your child that he or she is the most important thing in your life and it’s your job to keep him or her safe. Sounds soppy, but it’s true.
WORRY THREE: My child is an introvert and will probably spend the entire evening against the wall. Breaks my heart. What should I do?
SAYS THE DOCTOR: You might suggest that your child arrange to attend the dance with a group of friends, or one friend. There’s comfort in numbers. Beyond that, there’s not a lot a parent can do … and trying too hard makes the situation worse. If you try to discuss it, your child will tell you don’t understand — and you probably don’t. It hurts parents to see a child suffer, but as parents we have to accept the fact that we can’t protect our children from every insult and affront.
WORRY FOUR: There’s an after-prom-party at some other kid’s house. The parents are out of town. There will be no chaperones. The ultimate cliché. When do I storm in and act like a police officer?
SAYS THE DOCTOR: You don’t. Why can’t parents say NO to their children aymore? The teen brain is not fully mature, particularly the part that thinks ahead, weighs consequences, and manages emotional impulses. Parties without chaperones tend to get out of hand easily and quickly — uninvited guests appear, alcohol and other drugs get consumed, noise levels rise and judgment fails. Neighbours call the police and your child winds up in the middle of a situation he or she never intended. Boundaries, parents — that’s your job. Say no or offer to hold the party at your home.