Tips for keeping your teen safe on prom night—without being too overbearing.

By Kacee Bree Jensen
Photo by Getty Images

Prom night. It’s what our kids have been waiting to experience for years. Remember yours? It was nothing like today’s prom. It’s no longer just a dance. Along with the night comes expectations for parties, possibly drugs and alcohol, and, let’s just say it, sex.

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As parents, every decision is tough. The choice to track our children on prom night is no exception. We want them to have the time of their lives while also avoiding actions that could compromise their health or future in any way. Today's teens experience a lot more pressure than parents because of social media. There’s a reason the movie “Blockers” just hit theaters. (Quick summary: Teens make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night, and hijinks ensue when parents—Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz—do everything they can to “block” that from happening. Watch the trailer here.)

What Can We Do?

We can either track them or let them be. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of both options.

Don't Miss Our Prom Tips:

Option 1: Track Them in Some Form

Know their whereabouts.

A positive side of your teen having a smartphone is you have the capability to see where they are at all times. Through the “find my friends” app, shared iTunes accounts and different parent monitoring tools, you can track their location. There are also tracking devices you can get for their cars if they are driving. You can make sure they are exactly where they say they will be.  

Be their chauffeur for the night.

You can be their driver all night, so you know exactly where they are going and when they are leaving.

Chaperone the dance.

Schools are always looking for chaperons, so volunteer and enjoy the night alongside your teen.

Host the after party.

This way you know the guest list, you are there, and you provide the refreshments.  

Request picture check-ins.

Have them snap selfies with the background around them and text it to you so you know what they are doing.

Option 2: Let Them Be

They are going to be sneaky, if they want to be.

If kids want to be shady they will find a way to be shady. If you track their every move they will find ways to sneak around even more.

Remember YOLO (You Only Live Once).

You may be of the YOLO persuasion yourself and remember the good times of high school. Often kids need to find their own way and make their own mistakes. You may feel like by letting them be they will live and learn.

You’ve (hopefully) taught them well.

When you’ve taught them throughout life how to be responsible, the consequences of their actions, and that they surround themselves with positive people, you can let them be and trust they will do the right thing and keep themselves safe.  

This is their night.

They’ve got memories to make!

What I Propose

Meet in the middle. They are about to face the real world and hopefully they have experienced a lifetime of lessons from us parents. Let them have their night but with some guidance:

Talk out the plan for the night with your child.

Make sure you get the play-by-play and clarify what your expectations of them are. Discuss what the consequences of their actions would be. Be very clear ahead of time about EVERYTHING.

Know everyone in their prom group…

And who will be at the after event well enough to know what to expect from them, especially their date.

Set up a ride you trust for the night.

By the way, limo drivers are known to get kids alcohol.

Host the after event or know the parents who are hosting.

Have a conversation with the host parents.

Have your child check in with you via phone calls throughout the night, BUT…

Don’t be overbearing. Also, set up the expectation that after midnight they have to pick up the phone if you call them (you will have a better understanding of the night if you talk instead of text).

Remind them you have their back.

Remind them that you will pick them up no matter what state they are in if they need you! Their safety is priority #1.

Have a date night with your partner and try your hardest to not stress over the night.

Happy prom night, parents! Let us know how it goes. We would love to see your kid’s prom pics! Post with #PROMFAMILYCIRCLE.

Kacee Bree Jensen is the founder of Let's Talk Teens, a place parents and teens can go to find resources and tools to navigate the modern world we are living in. Kacee is a youth advocate, speaker, contributor, parenting coach, and mom of four including a teen.