My 16-year-old daughter recently came home and told me that some kids got in trouble for “dirty dancing” at a school dance. So they went out in the parking lot and did it, to thumb their noses at authority.
But there’s another issue at work here. It’s not just the kids. So when an adolescent girl goes out in an inappropriate and grossly immodest dress to prom, what do her parents say? Does she even have parents? Maybe she has a mom, but where is dad? Why isn’t he protecting his daughter? Did parents just cave to the whining? Do they have a spine? Why do young men think it is somehow OK to take their shirts off at a formal dance? Who taught them?
The truth is that kids will at times make mistakes and they have famously poor judgment. That’s why they have parents, who guide and protect them. But have some parents abdicated their duties? It seems so.
I used to do a lot of sleep work with children. I had a mom come in and tell me her teenage daughter was going to fail in school because she refused to get up in the mornings and wouldn’t go to school until noon or so. Mom was adamant that no matter what she did, she couldn’t wake the child up. It was a sleep disorder! She needed a note from me so the girl would be excused. I refused.
I instructed mom to go in and warn the girl that it was time to get up. After that, don’t say a word. Just sit by the bed with a squirt bottle and about every 30 seconds, squirt her with clean water. I guaranteed that the girl would get up. She might get up swinging, but she will get up. THEN we can talk about compliance and willingness.
We could then discuss when she went to bed, etc. But everything starts with the wake-up time, and the fact that mom was unwilling to take a stand on this (and in fact was trying to arrange things so the problems could continue) was an indicator that mom generally gave in to the girl and acquiesced in an effort to make it more convenient for herself. Oh, after this session I never saw them again. Shocker. I imagine they found some schlep of a doc to sign their note. They always do…
So what does this have to do with prom dresses? Everything. What will you give in on? It’s not being a prude or anything like that. It is about what is appropriate and my own willingness to stubbornly (but cheerfully) stand for what is right. And with a smile and good humor. It’s about protecting your child. It’s about holding your ground, and providing good judgment when the child may want to show bad. It’s not about being popular with them, or even being their friend (in the short term). It’s about doing what is right and what’s good for them come Hell or high water.
I am a parent. I know that it is very hard to be cheerfully strict. I realize that it takes an immense amount of self-control. Yeah, being a parent is a challenge. Deal with it.