$919 Worth of Pressure (Alternative Title: I Hate Prom)

bebraveI have hated prom for a very long time. It has nothing to do with any bad prom experience I had in high school. It has always had to do with the great amount of expense for one night. And the “supposed to’s” (so many that are heart damaging) that come with spending all that money for one night.dating coach

Visa has put out a new survey about proms for 2015. Prom costs are expected to be down 6% this year for the average family with teenagers, from $978 down to an expected average of $919. (Prom costs include clothes, limo rental, tickets, flowers, pictures, dinner, after-party events, etc.,) Yippee!? $919 on average spent on one night. That’s $919 of pressure to have fun and be grown up with a date that most likely never would have happened if there was no prom.

Then there is this crazy stat. This year parents are planning to cover more of prom costs–from 56% of the total last year to 73% of the cost this year. So parents are supporting this $919 of pressure?! I understand the memory makers which can be made in putting together the plans for a prom which is why I’m sure wallets open up. I do hope that some of the preparation for the prom is giving that child permission to just have fun with his/her date combined with an honest discussion of what true romance is. $919 cannot buy true romance. It is contrived romance.

prom

Another concerning find from the survey–families making under $25,000 plan to spend a total average of $1,393 for prom, while families making more than $50,000 annually will spend an average of $799. Stop. Just stop this craziness.

Then there is the new trend of promposals. This is the creative way to ask a date to prom. What was once cute on YouTube videos has grown to be another pressure added to this prom pressure. The survey found that a third of the total average prom costs ($324) are now being used for promposals, which have included invitations on a Tiffany’s card, along with jewelry; invitations made via skywriting, invitations made by entire school choirs. The pressure to outdo your fellow friend—and get it all videoed in the hopes that your idea goes viral—is all so much.

Survey 

This is all upside down. Stop. Just stop this craziness.

Prom used to be something done in front of parents with lots of parental involvement. The first proms came about as middle-class replications of the grand debutante balls. Parents in the middle class noticed and admired the poise of the debutantes and wished the same for their own young teens. Thus, proms were created as less expensive, less elaborate affairs where teenagers could meet in their finest clothes to share dinner–and sometimes dancing–while learning social etiquette together all put on by these parents. My how this has changed on so many levels.

Now we have the $919 of pressure for prom. A lot of money, energy, and emotions are expended over one night. And sadly, so few teens in reality have that dreamy prom night date and experience. Too many dislike their dates, are uncomfortable in their shoes, are uncomfortable about what is happening in the limo, and wish the whole night would be over. Only then to have to go to the after-prom plans which are even more uncomfortable.

This happens to so many. Not a good $919 spent.

There is also a lot of alcoholic-drinking on prom nights. This goes back to the root of what prom was supposed to be. It was a time for teens to dress up and promenade in front of adults to try out being adults. With teens trying to be adults for one evening, alcohol quickly became a part of prom. Isn’t that what adults do when they are dressed up? Alcohol and prom historically go hand-in-hand. Parents, are you spending 73% of the $919 to expose your child to alcohol?

I will just briefly mention the sexual activity that happens on prom night. It happens. A lot. Mostly because of the money spent. The “specialness” of the evening unspeakingly asks for sex at the end of the evening. Of course, the alcohol consumed lowers inhibitions too. Everything is set up for sex to happen.

Stop. Just stop this craziness.

Such a bashing of a tried-and-true part of American culture seems not to equal with Wild Frontier thinking. To bash something so harshly does not seem brave. Yet it is.

Think about all this. Think about the stories you remember of your prom and the ones you hear from today’s prom-goers. Then think of how we can do things differently. That is brave-thinking.  Let’s talk more about this instead of opening up our wallets.

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About Be Brave

Brenda Seefeldt began life in youth ministry in 1981. That is before the internet, YouTube, texting and even before PowerPoint. (But it was after flannel boards.) Brenda has written and shared much of what she has learned through the resource of Wild Frontier and in many youth ministry publications as she continues on in youth ministry. Brenda is a brave one. She stutters yet is a national speaker. She loves teaching so much she’s also been a substitute teacher for over 20 years. She’s brave enough to enter any classroom at a middle school. She also simply loves teaching groups, whether they are teens or adults. Due to the many years of youth ministry, Brenda has “coached” many grown teens in dating. She finds herself very opinionated on that with lots to share. Brenda loves her God-given family–four sons and 4 grandchildren. They are God-given, not birthed. That alone is a brave story, one she tells here and there as the story really belongs to her sons.

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