Prom Commandments: How Prom Season Goes with Girls


As the mom of a teenage daughter, I occasionally feel like I am parenting on a separate planet from my friends who have teenage sons. At Lisa's houses, sports are in full swing, and the mountains of standardized tests and specter of finals loom ahead. At my house, we have all of that plus what can only be referred to as high season for the high school prom.

For Lisa, it has been three sons, three trips through 11th grade and barely a word about the prom. Fifteen minutes to rent a tux, a five-minute phone call to order a corsage and yes, the sum total of time boys spent on the prom... twenty minutes.

With the biggest attire decision a boy has to make is peaked lapel or shawl, there is little to talk about except for the invitation. The onus of asking, despite so much about our gender roles changing, still lies with boys so whom to ask and how, are the important questions concerning young men.

But at our house, talk of the high school prom pops up with my daughter’s group of friends with the regularity of a favorite TV show which, at times, the conversation resembles.


While I flip their post-sleepover pancakes and lean into the conversation, the girls talk about more than dates, dresses and updos. They recount episodes of “prama” and review and revise their plans for the big night. At each step, they carefully abide by an unwritten code about prom behavior that I believe is not all bad.

Here are what I have dubbed their “Prom Commandments:”

1. Be considerate -- of male egos in choosing heel height that complements your date. Think of the photos which, in the words of one girl, “you will be looking at for the rest of your life.

2. Be inclusive -- it is not just you going to the prom but it is each of your friends. Much of the planning involves making sure that each girl has a date or, at least, a group to join.

3. Be original - if the girls in your school have created a Facebook group to which they post their dresses, check to see if the one you just fell in love with has already been taken. With a few taps on the smart phone, the answer is available while you are still in the dressing room.

4. Feel pride - about looking your best. Prom is as much a photo-op as a night out, so your hair, nails, makeup... go ahead and schedule those appointments, but just don’t overdo it.

5. Plan ahead - shop for a dress early before the most popular colors and sizes get snatched up. According to The New York Times, the red carpet at the Academy Awards in February kicks off the prom dress shopping season.

6. Be respectful - of the senior girls who signal the dos and don’ts about length of dress, for example, and who rule the prom committee. It is their last dance and they deserve center stage.

7. Be practical - if wearing a strapless dress, get it fitted so you’re not pulling it up the whole night.

8. Be polite - say “yes” to any boy who asks you to be his date, especially if there is an audience when he invites you.

9. Be confident - if you don’t get invited by a boy in your school, take the initiative to ask a date, especially if you have someone in mind from another school.

10. Be smart - obey school rules. Do you really want to get in trouble the last month of high school?

(I confess, the last one is mine. As moms, we are allowed to dream, aren’t we?)


-Mary Dell

Mary Dell and Lisa, moms of teens, co-author Grown and Flown.
Find us at Grown and Flown or follow us on Twitter


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