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The Prom Parenting Double Standard

The Prom Parenting Double Standard – Is it me, or does prom night seem to be a night where rational parenting flies straight out the window?
I view prom season (and spring break) as the time of year where parents get caught up in how much the parents of other teens let their kids get away with.

I think it’s a natural instinct for parents to look ahead to their parenting futures. When my kids were two years old I used to try to glance ahead in the crystal ball to wonder what they would be like (and how I would react) when they reached Kindergarten or could ride a bike etc… The same holds true now. Sure, I enjoy the present but sometimes looking ahead is fun. Other times, it’s downright scary. I’ve already wondered on OCM about how my husband and I should handle our kids regarding spring break senior trips. Bracing for Kindergarten was small potatoes when I think of the parenting challenges that lie ahead!

Prom season is upon us and I was sent some prom night safety tips for parents from a Huffington Post contributor / parenting to publish on Oakland County Moms, I started to look at the prom dilemmas in the safety tips and began wondering what I was going to be “in for” when it came to my kids’ prom nights.


The Prom Parenting Double Standard

There’s a hefty amount of parenting peer pressure during prom season in regards to keeping-up-with-the-Joneses – for kids AND for parents. I’ve seen it first-hand and have heard dozens of stories second-hand. I can already hear my daughter ranting “_____’s mom is giving her $800 for her prom dress AND is letting her spend prom night in a hotel with her boyfriend.” Prom Curfews, limos, money, booze… Not a headache I’m looking I’m forward to.

Here’s where the prom parenting double standard is cemented. Many parents seem to work so hard with their teens by laying down ground rules and expectations of responsibility through high school. Why do many parents put the blinders up and “hope for the best” during prom season and spring break? Parents try to do their best by enforcing rules to keep their teens safe. They build for that their kids’ entire lives only to give them a free pass on prom night – it’s the prom parenting double standard.

No one wants to be the ogre parent during prom season. Maybe that’s why many parents succumb to the very peer pressure we always thought we outgrew in our own teen years. The result is often ridiculous amounts of money being spent and too-lenient curfews and restrictions during prom season – a recipe for disaster.

Even before covid wiped out the past couple of prom seasons, there was starting to be a return to tamer prom rituals. Less extravagant plans, more group fun, and more reasonable expectations. I’m not sure if everyone just sort of woke up, parenting got a little better, or kids just decided that renting kegs and a party bus just wasn’t as fun as it used to be 10 years ago. Parents should still be mindful though.


The prom night safety tips for parents article is a good read. I just wonder how many parents actually follow through on the tips. Reading the prom tips is one thing, enforcing them on teens is far more challenging. Until then, I’m going to enjoy my kids’ youth soccer practices and water balloon fights while I can. I hope the prom parenting double standard has dissipated and the tradition of less stressed proms continue when my kids reach high school.

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