A Mom’s Thoughts on Hosting a Co-Ed Sleepover on Prom Night

One of the scariest things for parents is realizing you really don’t have that much control over what happens on prom night. You put your teen in a limo with an unknown driver whose sole responsibility is to drive from destination A to destination B—not to monitor drinking or anything else. The prom itself will have chaperones, but if kids want to sneak out, they will find a way.

As I reflect on my prom night, I know I wouldn’t want my children to try anything that I did. I actually didn’t go to my prom because my friends and I didn’t consider it to be the “cool” thing to do. Instead, we met up with everyone at the after prom party. I remember it being a very boozy night—going to bars (the drinking age was 18, but I wasn’t at the time), skinny dipping in the bay and not coming home until after sunrise. We were all drinking and driving, because it was during pre-MADD days.

In lieu of letting prom be an open-ended night for my son, I might host an after prom sleep-over at my house. In my opinion, the advantage of parents hosting a sleepover is that we have some control over what happens on prom night. You can have the teens safely back at your house, send the limo driver home, give them the basement, let them stay up as late as they want—which is part of the fun of prom night—and keep track of who your teen is with and what they are doing. If the kids are determined to have sex or get drunk or do drugs, I’m sure they could a find a way. But the point is, they might be less likely to try risky behavior at home with adults right upstairs.

A question that naturally comes up is: Will I let the kids drink alcohol in my house? Simply put, no. Nor would I want them in someone else’s home. As parents of teens today, I think we need to accept that they might drink alcohol as a possibility. The most important thing is that they are in an environment where drinking is less likely to occur and they have adults present.

When it comes to co-ed sleepovers, I think girls and boys should sleep in separate rooms. Does that mean they won’t sneak around? No, but it sets a precedent that it is not allowed. Would I stay up all night and monitor the teens – probably not. That’s where the trust factor comes in. If you have a teen who has consistently made good decisions, chances are by prom night he or she may continue to do so. But keep in mind that this is the end of high school – their whole world is high school and they want to hang onto it and those friendships forever. So be cognizant that they may do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do to preserve the memories somehow.

My son thinks high school is the best time of his life (which it is up until now), but I keep telling him college is better because I want to reinforce that there is so much more to come. And for me, college was much better. My mother died when I started high school and it was a very difficult time. I had no supervision whatsoever and made a lot of bad decisions. I think all parents look at the decisions they made and try to make sure their kids make better ones. Have that conversation with your teen about drugs, alcohol, sex, decision-making, peer pressure early and definitely before prom night.

Editor’s Note: If your teen is attending a co-ed sleep-over after prom this season, you may want to consider talking to the parents of the teen hosting the party. Every parent has different rules and things they will or will not tolerate. Find out the ground rules ahead of time and take that opportunity to share your thoughts on what a safe prom means to you.

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