*Fair warning: If you don't suffer from anxiety about every bad thing that could happen when your kids walk out the door, this post isn't for you. But, if you are a good old-fashioned worry wart like me, read on sister, read on...
I take "mommying" very seriously. And, I dare say, my style of mothering -- constantly keeping every single thing that maybe-might-possibly go wrong in mind -- has served me rather well: Everybody's alive and happy. But, as my kids got older, and the worries became greater, I realized that I had to find a way to chill out. Oddly enough, prepping for prom 2018 helped me to do just that.
This year, I accomplished parenting nirvana -- I enjoyed sending my daughter off to prom. Absolutely no hand-wringing, just a good time. Here's how I did it:
1. Play the Long Game
Get to know your daughter's friends long before prom. Encourage her to have a sleepover in early spring. Make the party memorable: Place the ingredients to your daughter's favorite cookies on the kitchen island with recipe instructions for them to bake a double batch, or fill the family room with pillows and provide loads of popcorn with fun toppings to munch on with a movie. The girls will have lots of fun while you get to know her new friends and reconnect with old ones.
2. Set a Reasonable Budget
Be clear that while prom is important, it's not a wedding ceremony. Instead of professional hair, makeup, limo, and a designer gown, pick one thing to splurge on. She'll appreciate clear boundaries about spending even if she doesn't say so. Not to mention, you'll rest easier prom night knowing she doesn't have an unlimited Visa at the fanciest restaurant in town.
Consider donating formal attire to Becca's Closet, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes dresses to high school girls with financial need.
3. Role-play Discussions about Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol
Daughters and sons need to be reminded that their bodies are precious. More often than not they aren't nervous about saying "No!"to unwanted advances or drugs the first time. What scares them is what to do when someone is persistent or aggressive. I try to focus on how to say no, mean it, and stick to it. Our family acts out realistic scenarios of peer and dating pressures. Be sure to switch characters. You may be surprised to find your daughter draws on her own experiences for both roles.
4. Keep Your Worries to Yourself
Don't be like me the night of my daughter's junior prom -- a teary mess. My daughter wound up being worried about me. It was unfair of me to inject my fears into a night that should have been all about her. Instead, smile big and take lots of pictures. Your confidence will remind your daughter that you trust her and encourage her to make good choices.
5. Keep the Send Off Short and Sweet
Organize a photo shoot at a park, picturesque college campus, or a party-perfect backyard. Encourage parents to bring hors d'oeuvres and clear non-alcoholic drinks (in case of spills). Keep picture taking to half an hour or less. It doesn't sound like much time but remember, the teenagers do not want to party with you. They just want great pictures. There is nothing worse than the parent who begs for one more picture as the kids are walking out the door. Don't be her!
The answer to sleeping easy with a teenager, prom night and every night, is knowing that you gave it your all as a mom. You put in the work to ensure that, while she will make mistakes, her judgment is solid and her moral compass is strong.
Once the kids have gone, pull out the champagne to celebrate. You did it!