When I was a teenager we didn't have iPhones, we didn't text, and our prom photos are actual, physical photographs (they are pre-Facebook, luckily). But it's a whole new world out there for high schoolers these days. I was curious about how modern teens do prom, so I started browsing Instagram — something we also didn't have in high school — to get a glimpse into the proms of today. While the fashions may be a far cry from what we wore a decade or longer ago, the ways teens ask their potential dates haven't changed much, besides, of course, the ones utilizing modern technology (yes, there are some texts in there). So this prom season, see the creative and not-so-creative ways the teens of today are asking their dates to their high school dances!
Anyone else remember watching Romy & Michele's High School Reunion and thinking, "When I'm that old I'll have my life together way better than those girls"? Then you get your Facebook invitation to the group "10-Year High School Reunion Coming Up! Yay!" and realize that the time is now, people. Is your sh*t together?
Your reunion happens whether you're ready or not. So don't stress about whether you've invented something cool like Post-Its and if you'll win the "most changed for the better since high school" award, because who really cares what these people think about you. Grab a free drink, find your best friend on the dance floor, and party like it's 2003 . . . or 1993. If you're still nervous, see how the process will most likely play out, courtesy of our favorite Romy and Michele GIFs!
The following is an excerpt from my new parenting book Teaching Kids to Be Good People. I offer it as a reminder to parents of tweens and teens of how much they need our help and support in becoming their authentic selves.
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Our kids are all grown up and living their own lives, and still, my husband David and I walk the darkened streets, checking out the decorations and the trick-or-treaters. David usually wears his multimedia producer costume — jeans, t-shirt, baseball cap. Yes, it's understated, but very convincing. I don't do "understated." This year, I'll morph into a mime with whiteface, red-bow lips, massive amounts of black eyeliner, and a pink tutu on my head.
My senior year in high school I was voted Class Actress, so I fully appreciate the fascination with taking on a new persona and milking it for all it’s worth. The irony isn’t lost on me that this Great Pretender has built a career exploring the MO of kids who constantly fake it by pretending to be someone they’re not, just to get other kids to like them.
I asked a bunch of middle schoolers, “How do you know when you’re faking it?” Here's what they said:
- “I have a feeling of guilt and hatred for myself. I feel like I’m a wimp for not speaking the truth.”
- “It’s hard for me to really shine through and show people who I am because I am always worried about impressing them. I hate it when I act this way.”
- “I feel like a fraud in my own body. I feel betrayed by myself because I’m not showing everyone who I am and it hurts because I don’t know if they will like me for who I am.”
- “I get a nagging feeling tugging at the back of my brain, telling me ‘Don’t do this, you know this isn’t you.’”
- “Whenever I’m putting on ‘my mask’ I feel sort of terrible and messy inside, like a lot of spaghetti, all tangled up. I feel almost sick to my stomach and a little anxious, but I still do it to impress others. But it never feels quite right. I do it because I feel like I’m not good enough sometimes.”
Their responses saddened me. We want our kids to be happy and courageous enough to drop the "mask" and confidently be themselves. But that’s a huge challenge when they’re unwilling to make a move without first checking out what everyone else is doing. If everyone else is being unkind, our children need tremendous strength of character not to join the hating party. Because the price of social poker is so very high, not many of them are willing to gamble.
Of course, some kids embrace their authentic self and don’t hesitate to do the right thing, online or off. They show their goodness with equal confidence when no one is watching and when everyone is watching. But more kids need that kind of social courage. Too many teens are peer approval addicts, compulsively doing whatever it takes to fit in, including stuff they’re not particularly proud of. For those middle and high school students, everyday is Halloween, only they don’t get candy — just the hollow feeling of wimping out and not being “good enough” without their mask.
How can we help our kids resist conforming to negative peer behavior? By modeling and reinforcing, early and often, what authenticity looks like. By teaching that our choices matter and everyone deserves respect even when we’re feeling angry or jealous. By talking about people in the news, characters in books, movies, TV shows, and anyone we know who did the right thing despite the risk that friends might not approve. By letting our sons and daughters know that they already are “enough” of everything that matters. By reminding them that they’ve got the courage to do the right thing, even when they’re not sure they do.
After my first question to the tweens, I followed up with this: “How would your life be different if you didn’t have to worry what other people think?” Here’s what they said:
- “I’d probably share with people that ‘Hey, being yourself is cool, and if you can’t do this now . . . why not?’”
- “I would not spend a lot of money or do stupid things just to fit in.”
- “I wouldn’t formulate the perfect words to say to those perfect people. I would say exactly how I feel.”
- “I would love it! It would be like a freedom that lets you fly.”
Halloween masks aside, how can we encourage our children to be who they are? What can we parents do, every day, to help our kids fly?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.
A new school year is just around the bend, ushering in new class, extra-curricular, and social calendars. But for many moms of soon-to-be high school juniors and seniors, there's a weightier concern on their minds: how to help their teens prepare for life-after high school. “I don't know where to start," admits Cheryl T. "I cant believe she will be a senior in high school this fall. It went by way too fast!"
To help make the junior and senior years less stressful, here Circle of Moms members share a checklist of actions to take as your teen heads toward the milestone cap-and-gown ceremony and the new life that will commence following graduation.
1. Teach Real-Life Skills
Many Circle of Moms members emphasize that the junior and senior years are a key time to teach your high schooler essential real-life skills like cooking, laundry, and time management. As Adelle S. reflects, "The adage of giving our kids roots and wings really comes into play during senior year."
Moms like Beth H. also recommend teaching teens money management skills, such as "how to balance a checkbook and stay on a budget.” She notes: “This is the number one thing that college kids have no clue about. Money slips through their fingers - with pizza, beer (oh yeah), soft drinks between every class instead of a water bottle, gas for running around - and high school is a good time to teach them.”
2. Plan for Senior Year Costs
Another challenge that junior and senior year will present is the cost of all the activities and celebrations on deck. As Adelle S. asks, “How do we make it through senior year without going broke?”
Her recommendation is to sit down with your child at the beginning of the year and “list the typical activities that will happen at their school, then plan financially for each event, including the school rings, dues for seniors, senior week, prom, senior pictures, cap and gown rental."
3. Encourage Academic Focus
Between prom, sports banquets, and social activities, the final two years of high school can be a busy and exciting time for teens. With so many distractions, many teens focus on the present instead of the future, and lose motivation. As Michelle R. shares, “The biggest problem with children this age is that they cannot see beyond today. All that matters is right now.”
Amy S. agrees: “My son is in honor’s classes and attends class every day, but he’s just not interested every day. We’ve decided we can’t make him do anything, but we are trying to stay present as parents, love him and have constructive conversations about his future to keep him motivated.” She recommends the occasional friendly reminder or question, instead of hovering and micromanaging your teen’s academic performance.
4. Prepare for College
If your child is planning to attend college, the junior and senior years are the key time for college preparation. Angie B. suggests making a checklist of everything your teen needs to get done, including taking the college entrance tests (ACTs or SATs), selecting colleges, preparing financially, including applying for scholarships and other financial aid, and completing entrance applications, with their all-important admissions essays.
Once you've made your list, Kim F. emphasizes that you should get the ball rolling in junior year: “Financial aide applications, student loan applications, visiting college campuses, you have to do that now. Junior and senior year are going to fly by and the sooner the better." Your teen should also pay a visit to his school counselor, says Angie G. “The best thing she can do for herself is go to the school counselor and get some tips from him/her.”
Moms like Crystal T. advise planning to visit several colleges. “Give your child an opportunity to view the campuses and hear about the different types of programs being offered.” A nice bonus is that hitting the road with your teen is a good way to spend some quality bonding time. As Crystal T. notes, it's amazing how much conversation goes on during a three-hour trek to the state university.
5. Get Emotionally Prepared
On a more bittersweet note, junior and senior year are an opportunity to spend time together and get your child emotionally ready for more independence, whether it will be at college or a first real job. As Carol P. emphasizes, "It's important to cherish that time together."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.
In our interview with author Allison Winn Scotch, she said she'd tell her 17-year-old self "that it's all going to work out even if it seems like it's not." I have to agree that most teenagers need that reassurance. We all remember when something like our crush not inviting us to prom was the END OF THE WORLD, but looking back, it really wasn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Annie says she'd tell her high school self "don't try to grow up so fast" because she wishes she would have let herself be a kid. I'd probably tell myself back then just to relax and don't constantly be worried about what other people are thinking of you, because they probably were too concerned with themselves to notice if you had a bad hair day. Here's what our Facebook fans would tell their 17-year-old selves.
- "Just because a haircut looked cute on Michelle Williams from Dawson's Creek circa '97 doesn't mean it will look cute on you." — Lisa
- "To believe in myself & watch my credit closer and that I'm smarter & stronger than people gave me credit for." — Penny
- "You're going to be fine, despite some obstacles and setbacks." — Lucy
- "Run away from that boy!" — Alecia
- "You are beautiful. Enjoy it now, because it's as good as it's going to get!" — Katy
- "Naturally, in addition to all of the philosophical stuff, I should have also added in the interview: tweeze your eyebrows." — Allison
- "Yep, that hotel party in Alpena . . . probably should just stay home! Listen to your grandma, she's smarter than you think! Get rid of the friends that bring you down and most of all, pick your college career BEFORE you go to college instead of changing your major 300,000 times." — Kristina
- "Sure you may feel a really strong connection with that guy and, by all means do what you can and see where the chips fall by the time you graduate college but do not, DO NOT, become obsessive and impatient because if you do you have absolutely no chance of success. Also, if it doesn't work out by the time you graduate college move on no matter how hard it is because he is too messed up to work if 4 years isn't enough." — Kimberly
- "That I wasn't fat, lol!" — Bridgett
- "Make all of your big mistakes NOW when you get older its much harder to bounce back from them!!" — Jessica
- "Relax. & try as much (positive) stuff as possible." — Natalie
- "Stay with your current boyfriend FOREVER — he'll make a wonderful husband & father.." — Fettina
- "I would smile at her and say nothing . . . mistakes and all . . . I wouldn't change a thing." — Amy
I asked what your biggest prom regrets are here and on Facebook, and I saw some recurring themes in your responses. Most of you either regretted going or not going, fashion faux pas, and lame dates. So for future generations of prom-goers, I'd say go with a guy friend or group of friends, wear something timeless not trendy, and bring a pair of flats in your purse for dancing! Here is a sampling of the things you'd do differently if were you able to go back to your good ol' high school days:
- "My regret is the shoes I wore. I rarely wore heels and I decided to wear 4 inch heels to prom. My feet were killing me before the prom even started!" — Gdeeaz
- "Junior prom regrets . . . my hair was boy short and yet I still paid $60 for an 'updo' that consisted of one big 'bang curl' and a fake diamond bobby pin. Letting a makeup kiosk at the mall do my makeup for the evening: orange face/white neck . . . pretty!! Being too nervous around my date to actually have fun and not be completely awkward. I made up for those the next year at my senior prom and had a great time. Live and learn, right?!" — Anonymous
- "Waaay boring date, and not even a kiss goodnight. Lame." — Elizabeth
- "I regret that I let not having a date keep me from going. I easily could have found a group of girls to go with." — roseate
Read the rest below.
From extravagant proposals to $1,400 dresses, are proms the new weddings? Reading the New York Post piece on pricey proms, I'm baffled that girls are not just getting $1,000-plus prom dresses, they are buying wedding-esque white, celebrity-inspired dresses and renting $9,000-a-night double-decker Hummers. I remember prom being important and fun, but "splurging" on a dress back then was closer to $300, and I'm glad I held on to my savings for college instead of wasting it on one high school night. My prom night was a blast and super tame (no crazy lost virginity stories), ending with a group of us staying up all night before going to my best friend's date's swim meet at the crack of dawn.
Whether you got a little too crazy or not crazy enough, your date was a disaster, or you spent your college fund on a hideous dress, what is your biggest prom regret? Or do you not regret anything?
Source: Flickr User gregor_y
What is going on in high school these days? Specifically, this high school where a guy wrote a song, got his friends to be back-up clappers, and popped the prom question in front of third period with next to no embarrassment.
The video even circles the classroom, showing clapping kids who are totally supportive of this public display of vulnerability. High schoolers aren't supposed to act like this! But since this video went over so well, expect other lyrical boys to follow. Meanwhile, I fully expect this crooner to grow up and publicly propose marriage via a full-scale Broadway production.
For now, I want to know how you were asked (or did the asking). Did a friend act as a broker, either procuring the date or ensuring both parties would say yes to minimize risk? Was it on a note or by email, IM, or text? My date whispered the question in the school library, and I felt pressured to say yes by the publicness. In hindsight, it was everything it's supposed to be — passive and awkward. What about you?
Baby booms can be cause for concern. Though the public is celebrating Tinseltown's burgeoning bellies, at Frayser High School expanding stomachs are making for a grim statistic. Ninety girls out of the Memphis, TN school's 800 students have been pregnant this year. If you consider that 30 percent of teen pregnancies end in abortion, an even larger percentage of the student body was likely expecting. The city of Frayser is launching programs in an attempt to curtail future underage pregnancies. According to the report, the initiative will launch this week. It will include:
- After-school and in-school programs funded with grant money, operated by a local non-profit that already does some work for city schools.
- A $250,000 advertising campaign targeted at the Frayser community that is based on research done in focus groups at the school.
- A federally funded component that emphasizes the responsibility of young men, operated through a Memphis hospital.
Do you think this action will have an effect? Or, is teen pregnancy just a fact of life?
There will be no "overt and/or prolonged public displays of affection" on or off the dance floor at one South Carolina high school this December. In order to attend the Winter semiformal, and Spring prom, at DW Daniel High School, students must sign a contract agreeing to abide by dancing guidelines. Signatures also bind students to a no-drug/alcohol policy (as opposed to last Spring's rager?) and a dress code, which with the "must wear shirt" clause puts it on par with a convenience store.
Were there guidelines at your high school dances? In writing?