It’s warming up (unless you’re in Chicago), finals are looming, bank statements are lowering, meaning one thing for high schoolers and their parents: prom. For many, prom marks the end of high school and a transition into uncharted territory. Students may be leaving home for college, entering the workforce full-time, or struggling to figure out their next step, all of which may increase susceptibility to peer pressure and substance use. Studies show more than 75 percent of underage drinkers reported drinking in a group. And although adolescents and young adults drink less often than adults, they tend to binge drink, leading to consequences like visits to the emergency room or even death. So, this begs the question on how to prepare for prom as a parent?
How to Prepare for Prom as a Parent
Gloom and doom aside, prom season can be fun; it can also an opportunity to start a conversation with your teens about substance use. Two of our Gateway experts, Aurora and Joliet’s Jim Scarpace and Lake Villa and Gurnee‘s Karen Wolownik-Albert, share their tips for a safe prom.
Talk to your kids about substances, including alcohol.
Allow them to ask questions. Additionally, be open to hearing their experiences with peers and even with drinking and using drugs. Help them understand the dangers and risks associated with using drugs and drinking, like the increased likelihood of unsafe sexual behaviors or victimization
Prepare them for what they may be exposed to on prom night.
Talk to your teen about the dangers of binge drinking and drunk driving or riding with an intoxicated driver. About a third of alcohol-related traffic deaths involving teens occur between April and June, the most popular months for prom. Try practicing their responses to different scenarios.
Establish a back-up plan.
Let your teen know they can call you immediately, regardless of the time or situation, and you will be willing to come get them. Develop a code word. Let them know they can text you instead of calling, if that is easier for them.
Figure out a structured and supervised post-prom event.
If this is not possible, be sure to meet or speak to the parents at any home where your teen may be hanging out after prom.
Do not provide alcohol to teenagers in your home.
If your teen is struggling with substance use, be sure to express your support in helping them overcome the problem. Also, remember that as a parent, you’re empowered to reach out to professional drug and alcohol rehab centers.