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How to help your kids be safe on prom night without ruining their good time

I distinctly remember my mom’s words of warning the night of my junior prom. “Be careful,” she said as she distractedly fiddled with my corsage. “It’s not that I don’t trust you; it’s everyone else I worry about.”

At the time, I responded with a laugh and a good-natured eye roll as I made my way out the door toward one of the most memorable nights of my high school years. Now that I have children of my own, though, I know exactly what my mom meant.

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While my kids are still far too young to even know what a prom is, I know the day will come when I’ll be driving my daughter to the department store to pick out a dress or nervously handing my son the keys to the family car so he can pick up his date.

And, like my mother before me, I’ll be consumed with worry about all the what-ifs that could transpire that formative evening. At the same time, I’m sure I’ll be terrified my overprotective instincts will somehow mar this magical rite of passage for my kids.

If you’re on that precipice now, you’re likely waging that internal tug-of-war this very minute. So if you want to ensure your child is responsible at prom without being the proverbial albatross around their neck, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Verbalize your expectations

Because peer pressure is notoriously hard to resist at major social functions like prom, there is the distinct possibility your kid will cave in some way, shape or form. Since this could include consuming contraband alcohol, you want to make your expectations crystal clear — without making your kid feel like you don’t trust them. Explain to them that you realize there may be alcohol present but that you want them to refrain from drinking any. Will this work? It could, but there are no guarantees. Still, if you tell your child how you feel about it, it’s more likely you’ll be the voice in their head when someone offers them a drink.

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2. Leave very little to chance

Transportation to prom is pretty easy, since you’ll likely book a limo so your kid and their friends can carpool in style. There will undoubtedly be after-parties, so it’s important to map out your kid’s mode of transportation to those too. Here, honesty is the best policy. Well before the big night, have a casual, open conversation with your child about which party they are going to and who will be driving them there. Have them download the Uber app (if they haven’t already), and jot down the number of a local cab company for good measure. They’ll think you’re going overboard, but it’ll be worth it if they wind up in a bind and need to defer to one of your backup plans.

3. Don’t freak out

There’s no doubt about it — this is a big night for all involved parties. Just as every fiber of your kid’s being is looking forward to spending the night on the dance floor with their favorite friends and making lifelong memories, every fiber of your being is a nervous wreck. However, not only will being frazzled not make you feel any better, but it could create undue anxiety for your kid on a night that is supposed to be relatively carefree. If you feel yourself start to get worked up about something, take a deep breath, and remember — your mom survived this night too, and relatively unscathed at that.

4. Ask questions

This doesn’t mean you should sit your kid down and grill them about every detail of their night (although, to be honest, you should essentially know every detail of their night). Rather, it means asking both your child and the authority figures at your child’s school questions pertaining to the night. How many chaperones will be present at prom? What precautions is the school taking to minimize the chance of students sneaking in alcohol and later driving under the influence? Asking these questions before the actual event means you don’t have to be a buzzkill the night of when you drive to the venue in a fit of panic over some perceived issue that could possibly happen.

5. Establish check-in protocols

This may be a little hard for you to hear. Are you sitting down? OK, good. Your child may not get home until very, very late on prom night — and they may not sleep in their own bed at all if they prearranged to crash at a friend’s place. Of course, this varies from case to case and is entirely dependent upon your attitude toward curfews on special occasions. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to have your child check in at various points throughout the evening. So as not to encumber your child with far-too-frequent check-ins, space them out a bit, and give them the option of a quick text.

More: School lets parents embarrass their kids as punishment, and it’s genius

6. Scan social media

No, I am not suggesting you invade your child’s privacy by logging in to their account or anything like that. I’m simply suggesting you put your mind at ease by capitalizing on the younger generation’s love for social media. Mark my words, your child and their classmates will be documenting every single second of prom. Should you start to feel tempted to call your kid or even peek in on the prom to see how things are going, log in to your Facebook, and peruse your feed. Seeing the smiling faces of dancing teens plastered all over your feed will reassure you all is well.

7. Savor the moment

Again, this isn’t just a milestone moment for your child. It’s a milestone moment for you too, Mama! If you spend your night preoccupied with how much could go wrong instead of enjoying what is right, you might miss it. Loosen up, and have a little fun. You deserve it!

This post was sponsored by Anheuser-Busch.

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