For high school students, prom night represents a rite of passage; for parents, it often represents a long night of worry. Without supervision and self-restraint, a night of celebration often turns into a nightmare, with the ongoing threats of drugs, alcohol, drunk driving, STDs and more. To bring added peace of mind and hopefully reduced risk, some parents in recent years have begun creating a parent/teen prom night contract and having their children sign it. While it’s not an ironclad deterrent, it does sometimes help children remain mindful and accountable—but even so, some approaches to these contracts can be more helpful than others. If you’re thinking of writing up one of these contracts, the following practical do’s and don’ts may serve as a guide.
DO…Express Your Wishes
What do you want to happen on prom night? What do you not want to happen? Be honest about your concerns and write them into the contract in the form of promises and pledges. For most of us, avoiding alcohol and drugs are primary concerns, as well as avoiding getting into the car with anyone who has been drinking. Add your own desires, as well; just keep them reasonable and realistic.
Don’t…Threaten with Consequences
For the contract to work, the terms need to be things your teen can at least reluctantly agree with—because at the end of the day, the contract will be enforced by their will, not yours. Threatening them with the consequences won’t necessarily make them afraid to fail; it might, however prompt them to rebel. Focus on the positives, not the negatives. Try to specify things that your teen can willingly agree to.
Do…Give them Alternatives
What if, despite her best intentions, your teen breaks the agreement and gets into a dangerous situation? The last thing you want is to make her afraid to reach out for help. Put some wording into the agreement that spells out how the teen can get help without judgment if she finds herself in over her head. She’s more likely to take herself out of harm’s way if she sees a “safe” path for doing so.
If prom night or any other night leaves your loved one injured due to someone’s negligence, our Washington D.C. personal injury attorneys are here to help. Give us a call for a free case evaluation.