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A mother’s guide to prepping for prom

Your teen has been undoubtedly looking forward to this for months, but for a parent it’s a bittersweet moment. The time has come for your child’s high school prom.


It seems like only yesterday that you were holding your young child’s hand on the first day of school. Now, that child is a teen who is eagerly looking forward to his or her prom! In Canada, graduation traditions vary from school to school. There may be an official ceremony to hand out diplomas, a dinner, a formal dance or an after-grad party, but whatever the plan, it will certainly be a fun, memorable occasion for your teen. Help your teen have a great experience with these ideas.

Set a budget

The cost of prom can add up quickly, so discuss a budget with your child. Are you going to foot the entire bill or are you expecting your child to contribute? Take time to decide together who will pay for what, and be clear on the amount of money you’re willing to spend. While a prom dress and tuxedo come to mind as expenditures, there are several other things to consider when planning a budget. Be sure to include the cost of accessories, tickets, dinner, hair and make-up appointments, professional photos and videos, as well as the cost of transportation, such as a limousine rental.

Remember that prom doesn’t have to cost a fortune, so if you and your teen are reaching a budget overload it might be time to consider a few options.

  • If the cost of a new prom dress is eating up the budget, search the classifieds for a used prom or bridesmaid dress, and check out consignment stores.
  • Instead of costly hair and make-up appointments, have your teen invite her best friends over for pre-prom makeup party. They’ll make memories while doing one another’s hair and makeup.
  • Tuxedo rental shops may offer a group discount, so have your teen round up his buddies and pick out their suits together.
  • Formal photos can be expensive, so alleviate the cost by purchasing a smaller photo package and taking (or having your teen take) more personal photos yourselves.

Be realistic

Planning for prom is fun, and as a parent you don’t want to put a damper on your teen’s excitement. But being a parent still comes first. By high-school graduation your child might already be a legal adult, or at least close to it, so treat them as such and have an open dialogue about the dangers of prom and the after-parties. Talk openly about your concerns and be willing to listen. Use the opportunity to discuss alcohol abuse, drinking and driving, drugs, sex and whatever else you are both concerned about. Assure your teen that they can come to you, regardless of the situation, and you will be there for them.

Relax and enjoy

Your child has grown up right in front of your eyes and is almost ready to embark on a new life outside the walls of high school. Take time to savour every moment as they happily plan their graduation night. Be there when you need to be but also relax and let them be the responsible, independent person you’ve raised them to be.

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