Hotels on Prom Night

How should parents handle the prom night hotel plan?
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Q. My daughter has asked us if she and her friends could stay at a hotel on prom night this year. She's a high school junior and has been dating a boy we like for about a year; they're planning to attend the prom along with her best friend and her boyfriend. My daughter gets good grades and I trust her judgment. But I don't feel comfortable allowing her to spend the night in a hotel room, unsupervised, with boys. I suggested that she invite her friends -- boys included -- to stay overnight at our house where my husband and I could be nearby. But she said no one would want to do this. Can you offer any advice?

A: You have three options: Option #1: Just say "No!"

Include, "As a responsible parent I can't allow it -- although I trust you and know that if you wanted to use drugs, have sex, or drink alcohol, you could in a variety of places. Nevertheless, it just doesn't sit well with me to endorse your checking into a hotel with your boyfriend even though you'll be with a group."

Your daughter might turn angry or sullen with your response. She may say she hates you, but she really doesn't. Possibly, she may feel relieved. She may not really want to go but needs you to draw the line in the parenting sand for her. If you fear she may sneak around and go anyway, consider the next option.

Option #2: Offer a compromise.

You've already offered to invite the entire gang to your house for the night, but she's turned you down. Pursue this option again. Here's how: "I'm not going to give my blessing to the overnight-in-a-hotel plan, so let's think up an alternative. What else can you and your friends possibly do?"

Call the other parents involved. What are their thoughts and feelings? If one family has a recreation room with sofas, a video screen, and food, the kids might agree to go there. When you enter into the problem-solving process with these teens, make sure that you explain that you want them to be together for the night, it sounds like fun. You just want to make sure that there is some parental supervision and that they are safe. It's because you love them, not because you want to control every aspect of their lives, which is what they'll think unless you clarify your motives.

If your daughter continues to balk and you fear that she'll say she's going one place but really will go to the hotel, consider the last option.

Option #3: Allow her to go.

Also, tell her you don't like it; it doesn't fit with your values. Explain that while you trust her you fear that in the hotel she'll be coerced by her peers to do something that she would never do in another environment.

Call the hotel, ask for the house rules for prom-going teens, and communicate these rules to your daughter and her friends. Give the hotel your phone number, and be on call in case your daughter needs you or if the hotel would like to report disruptive, dangerous, or illegal behavior.

If you settle for option #3 and can't sleep, check into the hotel yourself. You would only do so out of love and safety of your daughter.


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