Post-Prom Parties

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Considering hosting a party after the prom

March 2010

My high school son would like to have friends over to our home after the prom. In the past, kids have rented hotel rooms and stayed out all night. As if its not enough that the Prom is the main event anymore, IF I were to agree to have 16 and 17 yr old boys and girls, hang out in their tuxedos and dresses all night, (which sounds uncomfortable to me), would you have other parents here too? activities? recommendations? Help... How is it that teens expect this? L

You are fortunate your son is up for having the after prom party at his house! Kids love to stay up all night because it makes them feel independent and like they are getting to do something grown up (and a bit forbidden). I have hosted all nighters for my son and his friends a number of times. They sit up late, play video games and have (usually forbidden, i.e. not kept in the fridge) sodas and junk food. They are usually collapsed in a pile by midnight.

We had an after prom party when I was in HS where we went to a kids house and had snacks and played guitar. I would provide a changing room for the boys and one for the girls and suggest they bring comfy clothes for the rest of the evening. You could have parents drop the clothes off early. Make up some simple snacks. Hang in the kitchen with another couple of parents. Discreetly, come out to replenish snacks and make the rounds of the bathrooms, bedrooms, etc. on an unpredictable schedule. If you start this early, the kids will have the expectation that you are around and not to get up to too much. ''Oh, I just want to make sure you have toilet paper.'' Oh, I thought I would check if you need some more hangers to hang up dresses...'' You can also lay out the expectation at the start that this is your home and alcohol and illegal substances are not permitted. When I have laid this out early at teen parties, everyone has been fine with it. Once they break out the beer, it is harder to stop it. Parents are legally responsible for the teen behavior and use of illegal substances. I know sometimes parents think it is cool to provide a keg, but underage drinking is illegal and if some students get in a crash and kill themselves or others, you will have to live with it the rest of your lives. If you set clear expectations ahead, everyone can have a fun, safe time (and you will be the superstar parent for keeping them safe instead of in a hotel room somewhere...). This is the parent/health educator/high school teacher giving my 25 cents worth. kl

My son did the whole party at hotel rooms after prom.They had about 3 or 4 rooms. He didn't have a girlfriend and I knew there was going to be like 10 kids sleeping (actually not sleeping) in the room so I wasn't worried about sexual activity. There was drinking but he didn't drink at that time. They did get in trouble with the hotel though and it got shut down.

My daughter didn't want to do the hotel scene. Her friends wanted to be able to just hang out at a house. I had no problem with this at all. It gave us control of the scene. I set a limit to how many kids, and absolutely forbade any alcohol. They actually went somewhere first and then drifted in sometime around 3. They all changed clothes, they all hung out for awhile and then some of the girls drifted into her room to sleep, some of the boys drifted into my son's room to sleep (my son graciously went elsewhere for the nite) and there were a few more on the couch and living room floor. We had snacks available for them and I made brunch when they eventually arose. We agreed to it because we knew they would be safe, there would be no alcohol or sexual activity. We were slightly inconvenienced but the trade off was worth it. So I'd reconsider about them coming to your house. Oh - and we have a small house - but we have always strived to make it welcoming to the kids and even now while they are in college, they are more often at our house then out when they are home from school. mom

I think it is great that your son wants to have the party at home rather than at a hotel room. It is much safer, and you have come control over how wild it gets. I would call a few of the other parents and ask them if they would like to get together as well (in a separate room from the kids, of course), and maybe make it pot luck. I am sure they will thank you for hosting it, and be relieved that they won't have to worry about wild parties and drunk drivers that result in so many prom related accidents. Timi

The reason kids have come to expect a hotel room after the prom is because parents have allowed hotel rooms after the prom. I think it's great to have a bunch of kids over to your home. You can set the rules (I'm assuming you know these kids) and monitor them periodically. Often they go home and change for after prom parties (or after graduation parties)or they figure a way to have their comfy clothes handy so they're not in their dressup stuff all night (in our sons cases this was true). I would certainly invite other parents, but if it's going to be an all nighter you'll have to take turns staying up...Easier w/ more then 2. Good luck. mom of college kid...been there.

Post-Prom Parties - any hints?

March 2004

I've given my daughter permission to have her post-Jr. prom party at our house. I've never done this before. I know my husband and I won't sleep (at the same time) that night. I also don't know all these kids -- some are old friends, but not all. I expect about 20. Does anyone have any advice?

I've thought of the problems of alcohol, cars, sleeping over, extra guests, neighbors and noise. Anything else I should watch out for? Any hints for helping it work smoothly?

Not knowing specifically what you've thought about regarding alcohol and cars, I'd like to suggest something I heard a while back which I thought was a great idea. If alcohol will be involved, take away the car keys of the kids who are driving as they come in your front door and only return them if they're obviously able to drive when they leave.

Ask your daughter to make a guest list, and advise her and all the guests that the list will be adhered to. Sometimes word of a 'party' gets out, and suddenly there are more kids, perhaps some your daughter doesn't even know! Situations getting out of control are bad for everyone, and your daughter may be relieved that you are taking responsibility for keeping order.

The guest list will require an adult to act as 'bouncer', refusing anyone not on the list. This can be hard for some parent-teen relations, so it might be good to ask a friend (a big man, for example) to be the bouncer. Some refused kids can be very sneaky, going around to the back door or a window. I've know of a situation where refused kids started their own party out on the sidewalk!

I'm sure this all sounds very dramatic, and not at all your daughter's character or her friends - - they're probably all responsible, trustworth people. But it might be best to prepare for the worst, but expect the best. anon

Previous advise in this newsletter suggested collecting car keys from kids to prevent them from driving while intoxicated. Caution to parents.....the kids are on to this technique and have an extra car key. Also, you need to know that the law changed on 1/1/04. Parents that allow alcohol or drugs to be served in their homes to minors are criminally liabile if that minor is subsequently in a car accident. Is it worth a year in jail? Think again!

Hotel Rooms after the Prom?

May 2001
I have a neighbor whose daughter has just turned 16. She went to the Berkeley High senior prom with a boy who is a senior. As things unfold, it turns out that a large group of parents rented rooms at a posh hotel in San Francisco for their children to stay in after the prom. One boy and one girl to a room. My neighbors found out after their daughter had left for the prom, leaving them phone numbers where she could be reached. When they called the boy's parents to see what was going on, the parents said they had rented a room for their son and his date and that other parents had done the same thing. My neighbor was appalled, and wanted to see how we would respond, since we have a boy. Her daughter told her all the other parents thought it was okay. I have to say, we were appalled, not that the kids may be having a sexual relationship, but that the parents thought renting the rooms was okay without talking to the parents of their son's date. If something happened to a girl in this situation, the legal issues would be horrible. I'm writing because I would like to hear what other parents think about this. Another interesting point: The parents of the boy also have a daughter who is younger, who they believe they have to keep a close watch over. As parents of boys, it seems to me that it is our responsibility to encourage an environment that is one which we would want our daughters or the daughters of our friends. Something seems wrong with this picture. Anybody have any thoughts about this?

My daughter also went to the prom on Saturday. Eight kids rented a limo,and after the dance the driver toured the city and drove over the GG bridge. This is my idea of appropriate after-prom activity. I don't care how many other parents are supposedly giving permission and renting rooms for couples to use after the prom, there is no good reason for the boy's parents not to have contacted the girl's parents to see if this arrangement was acceptable to them. Louise

How interesting that they didn't know the after prom plans before the prom! My reaction is that I'm appalled, IF the rooms are intended for boy/girl habitation, and THAT the parents are paying for it. Where is the prom being held? My daughter is younger, but this (if in fact it happened--I'd like to believe it didn't) is never going to be ok with us. On another note -- my subsequent children are NEVER going to get away with All the other kid's parents say its fine as a justification for anything. My oldest tried it once or twice, and I started checking with the other parents......who'd been told exactly the same thing. Heather

I do not think that any parent should rent rooms for boy/girl occupancy for any reason. Why can't the parents put same sex teenagers together. I am appalled that adults would encourage such behavior. I may be politically/socially incorrect, but I do not trust raging hormones. The young people might get together for whatever that night, but not with my encouragement.

I think it is terrible for the parents to assume that your 16 yr old daughter should spend the night in a hotel room in SF with their son with out the other parents' approval -- if their son is over 18, he could be in much legal/financial trouble and so could they.

The idea of parents renting hotel rooms for their sons and their dates is entirely inappropriate. The fact they did not inform the parents of the girl involved is *unthinkable*. As the parent of a daughter, I would be livid if I found myself in a similar situation. This action by parents says a number of things: - condones a sexual encounter - we'll provide the privacy to enable you to take your relationship to whatever level you decide on - pressures both boys and girls into very possibly unwanted sex - places girls at risk of pregnancy - places both boys and girls at risk of emotional damage

I believe that as parents our job with teens is to *set limits* and enforce them and to protect our kids from this sort of inappropriate exposure. The fact that the parents of a number of kids were involved in making such arrangements is even more appalling. I can imagine there being one set of parents who would support this kind of an arrangement....but several!??? In my opinion the action of these parents is indefensible.

My junior daughter hit me up for this for both senior and junior proms. My final word: no. I don't care who is doing it or not, you be home at 3:00 or 3:30, which seems to be early for them. You get a hotel room when you are old enough to be on your own. Sandy

Seventeen years ago I used to work for a San Francisco posh hotel, and around prom season we were coached in detecting teenager voices over the phone who wanted to reserve suites, management did not want to rent suites to them, because they trashed the rooms to the point that it ended up costing the hotel more than the price of the room. So this is not new. Furthermore, parents were getting in the act and calling for their kids, for which we could not refuse, since they had credit cards handy. I guess the only advice is that parents should be giving their kids a pick up time, however I hate to say, but the room was being used mostly during the prom.

I am writing in response to the parent who reported second hand information (gossip) about the Berkeley High Sr. Prom and the alleged fact that parents rented posh hotel rooms for couples. It echoes much too close to a similar conversation I had with another parent regarding the events of that evening. It's interesting to me that when you leave out pertinent facts, how twisted a story can become - so here goes:

I have a neighbor whose daughter has just turned 16. She went to the Berkeley High senior prom with a boy who is a senior. As things unfold, it turns out that a large group of parents rented rooms at a posh hotel in San Francisco for their children to stay in after the prom. One boy and one girl to a room.

This is absolutely untrue -- IF, we are talking about the same group of teenagers, including my son, under NO circumstances did any of the parents rent rooms for individual couples. This is absurd to even imagine! How could anyone even tempt that idea!?

My neighbors found out after their daughter had left for the prom, leaving them phone numbers where she could be reached.

The most interesting part here is that the kids in question, about 10-15 couples, some of whom have known each other since grade school, were invited to the home of one of the parents who hosted a potluck dinner for everyone. Yes, it was a wonderful evening; introductions being made, great food, merriment, parents and kids photographing each other -- however, my son's date and her parent(s) never showed up. When the party broke up and the couples left for the prom, he and his friends went to the home of the young woman to pick her up. Upon meeting the parents, it appears that the daughter told her parents that she had made overnight arrangements at the home of a girlfriend's aunt in San Francisco. My son never questioned the validity of her overnight arrangements and one can't help wonder why the parents did not question their daughter about this prior to the evening if they were so concerned about her attending the prom.

When they called the boy's parents to see what was going on, the parents said they had rented a room for their son and his date and that other parents had done the same thing.

Fact, some kids did rent hotel rooms for after the prom -- in their name with the full understanding that parents were well aware of the plans. We are not talking one room /couple -- in fact, my son and his friends, I said friends plural, rented two, non-smoking rooms for a rather large group. What could they possibly be doing . . . they brought left over food, had music, movies and hung-out. It's hard to imagine that 18 year olds could possibly act like responsible young adults -- after all, we were 18 years old once too!

In addition, I told the parent that I had been looking forward to meeting them and their daughter/date and was disappointed that they didn't attend the potluck as they were aware of the dinner invitation. It's also unfortunate that the information the date provided my son about her overnight accommodation was inaccurate and placed him and his friends, in a compromising situation. Yes, something is wrong with this picture and it's definitely unfortunate that we are quick to assume the worse.

-a trusting parent-

My son is a senior and he went to the prom. I asked him about couples in rooms, and he told me he did hear of kids doing that, but most of the after-prom events, hotel or otherwise, were parties with a lot more than 2 kids. Most of his friends had arranged in advance some sort of group activity after the prom, starting at 1 or 2 am and continuing until 5 or 6am. In my son's case, there was a party before, parents allowed for the first half-hour, and a party after, for pre-determined guests. Most of his friends hired a limo or minibus to take them to the prom, and then afterwards to the afterprom activity. There were some kids who went afterwards to someone's house. There were some kids who'd gone in together and rented a place in Stinson Beach, and there were some kids who had pitched in on hotel rooms in San Francisco. Dates to the prom were lined up a long time ago - it's kind of hard to imagine there would be parents who had no idea how their kids were getting to the prom or what they'd be doing afterwards until the day of the prom. My impression is that the girls especially start planning a long time ahead on what to wear, so it does seem like a parent would be able to find out way ahead what the plans are. Personally, I don't have a problem with seniors staying out all night on prom night. These kids will be on their own in a few months. It doesn't make sense to me to insist that they be totally supervised at all times. The prom is a big deal - it is a special occasion that calls for special exceptions to the usual rules, at least that is how I look at it.

As to the sophomore girl whose parents found out the night of the prom that she'd be staying overnight in SF... First, are you sure this was really one couple per room? Second, are you sure the girl didn't know about the plan before the night-of? Maybe you didn't get the whole story from her parents (who may not have gotten the whole story from their daughter.) Did her parents not talk to her date or his parents about how they'd get there and when they'd be back? In my opinion the girl's parents need to take some responsibility for figuring out whether their daughter is meeting the rules they make for her, especially if she's dating an 18-year-old, whose parents probably have more relaxed rules than when their son was younger.

Regarding the hotel rooms at the prom, I asked my kid if she had heard about this happening. She said she had, and she seemed to think that quite a number of other kids were doing this. So it doesn't seem to be just one of those rumors; I'd like to hear from any parents who agreed to this and what their reasoning is.

Re: Hotel room after prom Would like to add my 2 cents worth. This issue has certainly generated an outpouring of emotional responses from parents, many appalled and critical of the 18-year old young man and his parents and other parents who allegedly may have gone along with the renting of rooms. Let me interject here that the reality is that there are many 18-year old boys and girls who have funds and the know-how to rent hotel rooms without the need for any adult intervention. As the parent of two teenagers (one of whom, incidentally, is an 18-year old boy who recently attended the BHS senior prom and was quite open about his plans and those of the group of friends with whom he attended), I am well aware of the challenges of raising teenagers. What I've come to realize is that we as parents are not going to be privy to every activity in which our kids are involved. A good illustration of this is given by the writer who informed us that at the hotel they worked in, the hotel room was used mostly during the prom. What this says to me is that having a curfew does not necessarily guarantee that our children aren't engaging in behavior which we would find unacceptable before that curfew; it simply means that they're arriving home in time. What is important for us as parents to do is establish guidelines and set good examples for the kind of behavior which we feel is acceptable (and this will differ from family to family, depending on the family's values, parenting philosophy and age of the child), then trust that our kids will attempt to make educated, wise decisions. For teens to be willing to really hear what we're trying to teach them, good communication needs to be established; kids who feel they have a voice will not feel they need to lie or deceive in order to do things they wish to. While I think it may be interesting that the after-prom plans weren't known before the prom, I can't help but wonder why the young lady didn't share her plans with her parents. Perhaps folks should not have been so quick to lay so much blame on the shoulders of the 18-year old man and his parents. This issue is not as black and white as it first appears to be.

As a parent of a senior, I'm writing because I didn't like the tone of the letters that followed this second-hand recounting of a situation that was judged very harshly. Perhaps most of the writers are not parents of seniors. When a child has gone through three years of high school, becomes 18, male or female, I'd like to know how much parental control and authority you feel you should exert. It's a question of many values involved, from a strict authoritarian perspective to the more liberal approach. No one approach works for all children as they are as individual in their needs and emotional make-up as their parents, and at 18, they can do everything legally but drink and have sex with minors, but they do that too. However, readers and writers should be very careful about condemning a situation they don't know first-hand.

I feel the judgment against the senior boy and his parents was misdirected. First of all, as a parent of a sophomore girl, it is not the time to find out on the night of the prom that she's going to spend the night in a hotel room rented for each couple. I believe a serious miscommunication occurred, or at the least it was half-baked between the parents and/or single parent of this sophomore girl, because there is a lot of advance planning for any prom -- from renting tuxes, getting corsages and hair-do's, and ball gowns/dresses, renting limos, arranging dinner and rides, and the money it costs -- all this certainly should prompt a discussion in advance about how she was going to spend the senior prom night with her date. You've got to be clear and communicate your values as a parent to your child, not work on this level of desperation after the fact, with nothing but a list of phone numbers in your hand on the night of such a big event. Anyway, if that's the style of communication now with this sophomore girl, then she's going to get away with much more than just a night out with a senior as she gets older (she may have already gotten away with a lot more than the parents would like to know). And believe me, 16 year old girls in this day and age are probably far more sexually aware and active than many an 18 year old boy. So, the blame for this should not just attach to the 18 year old and his parents.

My perspective is now one of looking back at my child's life at Berkeley High from freshman to being a senior, and I feel I've been through the fires (literally and figuratively), battles, the trenches, and lived through it all--not a perfect world raising teenagers, but certainly I raised my child with love and the thought of my child's safety first and foremost, and tried to be open and communicative with my child so in turn I would get the same back, and I have and I haven't. However, teens take risks no matter how parents forewarn them and try to keep them out of harm's way. It's a way of life for teenagers, and it's their world, so some part of it you should not know, or even want to know. To know everything is to freak out. But, if parents can remember their own teen years they may find they were exactly the same and what they didn't tell their parents would fill a book, where what they told their parents would be about a paragraph in that book. --jahlee

Thanks everybody for cluing me in to what goes on. It gave me a chance to talk to my kids about my expectations well in advance of the event.

It's time for me, mother of the invited sophomore, to take a front seat to the Senior Prom night issue and its aftermath. Right off I want to say one of the least wholesome activities occurred the next morning in Union City, the destination for Crispy Cream donuts. Much of the earlier events, I'm convinced, were also safe, reverent and innocuous. Still, I don't think I was sweating small stuff.

In retrospect, I should have given her a deadline date for handing in the contact numbers. She gave me cause for distrust (procrastinations and distortions), and yet I agonized about not trusting her judgment or scheming. As it turns out, had I been given the right contact, my girl would not have been a prom date to a friend, as I was not ready to allow the hotel overnight, which was part and parcel to a heady evening.

Forseeing my stand, my daughter had dwelled and schemed on every possible means to be part of an exulted post-prom hotel overnight. Nothing short of a ballistic confrontation with her father and me would have stopped her from this irresistible affair. I began to wonder if her date's parents were aware of the evening events and perhaps would take initiative to call me.

On Prom night, I detained the entourage of friends (some who have spent casual times at our house) and her charming (and new to me) date at my house until I had what I requested for weeks prior--the phone number of her date's parents and overnight host. I reached the parent immediately. The host was bogus.

No wonder she concealed everything from me! No way did she want me to know of the hotel night with date and friends, although other parents approved, supported and shared full confidence in the event. As outside parents who did not see the admirable seniors grow up from childhood, we weren't ready for this sort of initiation, thus we would most likely be the lone dissenter of this collective adventure.

No way was she having us meet the parents of seniors at this lovely get-together. I could have gone apocalyptic! So I was encased in darkness by all parties, just as she planned. By the way, the hotel did not have her name registered, which caused me to think sick and twisted. But in fact she was in good company.

She accepted the consequences without an iota of resistance. She took all risks, knowing clearly my view that she's too young to deal with the many possibilities challenging sense and sensibility. And a hotel room affords that scenario.

I want to thank all for arousing this issue and all for sharing comments.

Parent of a sophomore

Thanks to the Parent of Sophomore who wrote a response with such integrity that I am moved to immediately respond. Sometimes Parent's of Teens postings can be rantings and ravings without much self-reflection. It's so hard for us to see what I consider to be the most important part of being parents-- to see our own naivete or overoptimism or procrastination or flat out fear of dialing in what's true-- call it what's most fitting-- and to see the corresponding deception, naivete, manipulation, and folly of our children and learn from it all. I've always felt it better that my kids make their biggest mistakes while we're still close by enough to help mop up or elucidate or slam down the gavel as needed. Fortunately, I've found most kids to be decent and as you point out, much of what goes on is innocuous. But we also know that sometimes it's everything we were afraid of with added stuff we failed to anticipate.

Thanks for letting us see the full circle of this prom issue and how the best in us can grapple with the tough stuff of being parents. Winifred

Thanks everybody for cluing me in to what goes on. It gave me a chance to talk to my kids about my expectations well in advance of the event.

I feel compelled to write again because I have had so many thoughts since I wrote the first letter which initiated all of this conversation about hotel rooms and prom night. After speaking with numerous parents about this issue, most of whom are parents of boys, I want to turn the conversation to what our responsibilities are, as parents of boys, when our boys start dating, particularly when they are dating younger girls (which is usually the case). Perhaps it would be useful to have the conversation outside the events of Prom Night, so that it is less personalized. I would like to hear from other parents about how they handle these issues. I don't want to perpetuate what I grew up with--a boys will be boys atmosphere in which it was the job of a girl and her parents to be sure the girl takes care of herself. I would like to create an environment in which we care about everyone's child as if that child were our own. I know this sounds Pollyanna-ish. Somehow, though, what I would like to see is that we create an community in which parents of boys feel responsible for the girls their sons date as if those girls were their daughters. I wonder how other parents feel about this issue, and would welcome a dialogue about this.

I feel compelled to write again because I have had so many thoughts since I wrote the first letter which initiated all of this conversation about hotel rooms and prom night. After speaking with numerous parents about this issue, most of whom are parents of boys, I want to turn the conversation to what our responsibilities are, as parents of boys, when our boys start dating, particularly when they are dating younger girls (which is usually the case). Perhaps it would be useful to have the conversation outside the events of Prom Night, so that it is less personalized. I would like to hear from other parents about how they handle these issues. I don't want to perpetuate what I grew up with--a boys will be boys atmosphere in which it was the job of a girl and her parents to be sure the girl takes care of herself. I would like to create an environment in which we care about everyone's child as if that child were our own. I know this sounds Pollyanna-ish. Somehow, though, what I would like to see is that we create an community in which parents of boys feel responsible for the girls their sons date as if those girls were their daughters. I wonder how other parents feel about this issue, and would welcome a dialogue about this.

To the parent who wondered if other parents of boys were feeling responsible for the girls that their sons date: Yes! Here's a story from our family. A month or so ago my son's girlfriend (just turned 16) invited him to a Rave. She had purchased the tickets online, and had been to one before (without him). He had never been to one before. First we discussed this Rave business, then (having been convinced by the teenagers that they would behave responsibly there), we discussed logistics. The stated time for this event was from 8 pm Sunday night to 4 am Monday, and the location was a mystery until about an hour before it began. My son (recently 18) had not yet taken his driver's license test. He and the girl were thinking they could meet at the BART station, take BART to close to the event and walk the rest of the way. Then walk back to the BART, she'd proceed to San Francisco alone, and he'd take the trains to El Cerrito. As you can imagine, my husband and I did not think much of this plan! We told my son that no way was he going to walk around at night in an unknown location with a young woman, much less leave her on her own to get back home. And incidentally, the early morning was a Monday holiday, with BART trains on holiday schedule.

We made arrangements with the girl's parents to drive the kids to the place, and to drive them home to our place where she could sleep the rest of the night in our guest room before returning home with her mother as chauffeur the next day. The complications were numerous: we were attending a special 50th birthday party that same night, the girl forgot her ticket and had to return home to get it (via BART), my son forgot his ID and had to be driven home to retrieve it, my husband spent the party on the cell phone and driving around in circles, we got an hour or two of sleep before waking up to make the return trip. But it was worth it for the peace of mind! The girl's mother and father really appreciated our efforts, and I think the teenagers realized that good planning is not a deterrent to having a good time. We loosened up a bit about Raves, and what parent doesn't remember that music and dancing are essential to life? Bonnie

I was so happy to see this come up -- right to the point where the (anonymous) author postulated that a society in which we care about everyone's child as if that child were our own might be contrued as Pollyanna-ish.

This current generation is the first in which outside perceptions of appropriate parental behavior carry any weight or importance whatsoever. CARING WHAT OTHERS THINK is part of what we do most poorly by our kids. In a diverse and multi-cultural society the boundaries of appropriate behavior are different for different families, but there still MUST BE BOUNDARIES. Please don't assume there AREN'T because you don't want to be perceived as naive or Pollyanna-ish.

In a village where rules are different in different homes the logical consequence would be MORE talk between parents, and an understanding that OUR morals (mine and those of my child) are LIKELY not to be YOUR morals (you and your child). When in doubt -- the highest or most conservative boundaries rule until a discussion can be had. If you can't bring yourself to ask me honestly if I'd mind my child participating in an activity, the default decision must be NOT to include my child in the activity. I don't assume to know your rules, please don't assume you know mine. If your child can't give you enough information (phone number) for the two of us to speak, please, assume s/he KNOWS I'll object.

At the risk of ending my (12 year-old) daughter's dating career before it starts -- if I found out an older boy took my daughter to a hotel (after the prom or any other times) without the full knowledge and consent of all parents involved... I'd consider pressing charges for statutory rape, unless I could find something more serious -- kidnapping might be useful or conspiracy to commit kidnapping (the parents are the ones I'd really like locked up). If the roles were reversed, I'd expect you to do the same... even tho' my expectation without our real conversation is dangerous.

In exchange for your consideration, I can assure you that I will try NOT to let anything happen to your child that would make you want to put me or my child in jail. Is that fair? Heather

In response to the e-mail from a parent regarding the discussion about prom night and hotel rooms, and wanting to go beyond the boys will be boys mentality. I have an 18-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl so I can see this issue from both sides of the fence. More importantly, I have had frank discussions about sex and sexuality with my children since they were young. Not that I had anticipated telling my children about sex, or even homosexual sex, at the ages of 6 and 8, but being forced to come to grips with the fact that our children are exposed to issues I know I never was even as a teenager. This came out of watching the Ryan White story and trying to explain AIDS and consequently, homosexuality. I was VERY uncomfortable but it made me take a good hard look at what my children were dealing with. I've talked to both my children about sex and responsibility and the differences in meaning of a sexual relationship for a teenage boy and girl. With my son's first girlfriend, I talked to him about the emotional ramifications for both of them about having sex. Since she was a regular visitor at our house and we were relatively comfortable with each other, I also talked to her about protection and responsibility, especially since I knew her situation at home (her father was abusive). This was a girl who, because of remarks she made, I thought was in danger of intentionally becoming pregnant to remove herself from her family and ensconce herself in ours. Because her mother refused to even talk about things, I took them to Planned Parenthood so she could get a check-up and they could get birth control. I also talked with my son about the need to use condoms EVERY TIME regardless of whether his girlfriend was on the Pill; that if he was going to participate he had to share the burden of responsibility. We talked about in detail what it would be like for him to be a father at the age of 16.

I have approached it much the same way with my daughter, talking with her at length about the emotional ramifications, not just the physical possibilities of pregnancy and STDs. None of this has been easy for me, at times it's quite difficult. But I think it is VERY important for us as parents not to consider teenage boys' and sex as boys will be boys, which I consider to be turning a blind eye that would be wide open if their son was female. Yes, our kids hear lectures on sex and responsibility in their sex ed classes, but they also learn it from their parents' actions and reactions. A boys will be boys wave of the hand is an implicit condoning of their actions by their parents. Children learn how to assume responsibility based upon what they see as well as what they hear.

I am the mother of a 15 1/2 year old daughter (and a 6 year old son). She has been interested in and involved with boys for the last 3 years or so but until recently that seemed to mostly involve talking on the phone and hanging out together at school. Within the last 6 months she has started to take a more serious interest in the boys she dates and we are on to the second boyfriend she is serious enough about to bring home. Though she is more serious than she was in the past she is clear that at 15 there is no rush to get heavily involved or committed. She is well educated about sex and all the precautions she should take if she decides to be sexual. We have also talked about the emotional aspects of sexual involvement. My suggestion to her was that until she and her potential partner felt comfortable having a frank discussion about safe sex and pregnancy prevention that they were probably not ready to be having sex. If she actually follows that rule of thumb she'll be a virgin into her 30's - how many adults really feel comfortable with this type of discussion - but it is food for thought for her. My goal for her is not that she abstain from sexual activity because of moral beliefs, instead I want her to wait until she is old enough to be enriched by her experiences not overwhelmed or degraded by them. With that in mind, we try to provide the limits that help her be safe from doing something she isn't ready for. Our rules are that she may not be inside anyone's house with boys if there are no adults home, and that if she has a boy over at our house that they may be in her room but the door must stay open (her room is right off the main hallway). She, of course, tells us that these are unreasonable and that NONE of her friends' parents are sooooo strict! Since we are not supervising her every minute it is likely that she does not always follow the rules but they are there for her to help her modulate what situations are and are not comfortable for her. And if we find out that the rules have been violated we ground her, and I swear there are times it seems she deliberately creates a situation where she will get grounded because she needs some time to regroup and can't take it for herself.

Recently I spoke with her new boyfriend's mother and I unfortunately felt like she was not interested in discussing supervision issues with me. Beyond agreeing to my supervision request there was no discussion or discourse. I think it is imperative that parents of dating teens try to have some discussion about what the expectations are and to make sure that the kids know what the parents have discussed. I think that this is exactly what our daughters and sons need from us to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and to help them resist social pressures. By discussing with each other and our young adults the realities of sex, romance, peer pressure, and choice making, we model the kind of respectful communication that we hope they will bring into all their relationships, and we bring these issues out of the fantasy realm of Dawson's Creek into the realistic world that they inhabit.