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Nancy Berk, Ph.D. Headshot

Prom Parenting

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As an Empty Nest Mom, this is the first year after many that I haven't had to scramble into Prom Mode. Yes, my sons have completed another rite of passage and there will be no more proms in my parenting future. Some days, a tiny twinge of sadness hits me, but it's quickly replaced by relief. If you've ever been a Boy Prom Mom, you probably know why. It's nothing like your prom, and when comparing notes, it's nothing like a daughter's prom either. Here's my analysis, and a few tips to help those who follow in my frenzied footsteps....

Timing
For my boys, there was no sense of urgency, no big shopping spree and "no big deal" when it came to prom. Last minute was fine with them and even better if I was the one pulling the pieces together.
Tip: Tuck the dates in your calendar so you're not forced to rig up a corsage with a rhododendron blossoms and fishing line an hour before the event.

Wardrobe
Sure, Boy Prom Moms avoid the dress drama and vetoes, but that's little consolation for the boring tuxedo experience where the most creative fashion bone we're thrown is trying to find a matching vest and bow tie. A tuxedo rental can also cost more than a prom dress and take more time to secure than the most elusive gown. That's because tuxedo rentals involve standing in line three times -- to order, to pick up and to return.
Tip: Consider buying a new or used tuxedo. Depending on your child's formal party habits, it could save you cash.

Accessories
Flowers are the only accessory Boy Prom Moms obsess over. And the pressure's on when it becomes clear that you, not your son, are the corsage decision maker. Because moms might be judged by their choices, we beg for swatches and dress snapshots to avoid purchasing clashing rosebuds and ribbon. And to avoid appearing cheap, we add more flowers (because every date needs a $55 nosegay).
Tip: Lighten up -- they're just flowers and will be brown and wilted by the time dessert rolls around.

Transportation
Unless you have a cool car, this will be a negotiating point. While limos never came up in our family discussions, it is a familiar topic for many prom families.
Tip: Hold onto your wallet and your car keys as you sort out the most reasonable and safest (!) option.

Food
Although food will be served at prom, you will quickly learn that prom kids require pre-prom dinner reservations.
Tip: Save Morton's for your night out. Identify wonderful but responsibly-priced options and book before the other Boy Prom Moms.

Post-Prom
Apparently the party doesn't really start until prom is over. After parties now often involve co-ed sleep overs and you are supposed to just blindly accept this because "no one sleeps." These parties are usually held at the homes of parents you barely know and phoning them will totally mortify your child.
Tip: Phone those parents and use your veto power if something doesn't sound right.

Happy Prom Season!