Prom night can spark questions

Posted May 28, 2010, at 8:07 p.m.

Not so long ago I finally got the “Did you ever smoke pot?” question.

With four teenagers under my roof it clearly was bound to happen eventually.

With proms and graduations in high season, I assume there are other parents who are being asked similar questions; such as “Did you drink on your prom night?”

Tonight is prom night at Bangor High School. There is hair to be done, ties to be tied, lips to be glossed and pictures to be taken.

And perhaps prayers to be said.

Perhaps you may pray that your children behave as you did on this biggest of high school nights.

Perhaps not.

I’m not sure how relevant it is, but when I think back on my own senior prom night I grimace — a lot.

I don’t know when it started, but the tradition at my high school was that senior year you and your date went to the prom, left to have dinner with friends at a restaurant in Bangor and then, I kid you not, drove up Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island to see the sunrise.

My senior year, I went with a junior boy, which I guess meant he was probably 16 years old. He drove. Up Cadillac Mountain with fog so thick you could not see a foot or two in front of you.

Of course we thought nothing of it. We were invincible. We had the world by the tail.

That we survived gives me little peace when it comes to considering my own children’s big night out.

Last year a survey by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Met-Life Foundation found that parents’ personal past experience with alcohol and drugs at prom and graduation may influence the rules and limits they set for their teens during this time of year.

Parents who drank or used drugs at their own proms or graduation apparently were more likely to be more permissive with their children than those who did not.

So are you honest or not?

Does being honest make you a good parent? Or not?

I assume there are many who can tell the truth without question. No drugs. No alcohol. Just good times with friends.

I assume there are some who have a bit more of a dilemma in answering those questions.

According to the PDFA survey, 60 percent of teens said they feel pressured to use drugs and alcohol “always” or “frequently” at prom or graduation events, and 22 percent of teens surveyed reported that they are likely to drink or use drugs at those types of celebrations.

I don’t think any survey is going to answer that question for me. Teenagers have vastly different maturity and responsibility levels.

I try very hard to be honest with my children, but the most important thing in the world to me is that they be as safe as they can be.

I’m an honest and open person by nature, but I don’t believe for a minute that St. Peter might meet me at the Gates and refuse me entry because I fibbed to my children on occasion.

Times and traditions change over generations. My mother never made me wear a seat belt. She wasn’t a bad mother, it just wasn’t a big deal back then.

Generations of parents get better at what they do. As a society we get smarter. Teachers don’t smoke in the teachers’ rooms anymore while they tutor a kid in math, and schools no longer have smoking areas on campuses for high school kids.

We wear seat belts more often, we eat less lard-laden pie crusts, and perhaps, just perhaps, we’ve learned that teens and drinking and driving and proms and graduations are simply not a rite of passage — no matter what occurred the generation before.

And just so you know — to be right upfront and honest with you all — when my daughter asked me the question about whether I ever smoked pot?

Well, I answered her.

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