Parents (dads especially) speak up about proms
‘Stay on the sidelines and let them shine!’By Pam Pastor
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Our prom commandments from last week’s issue received a lot of attention. The funniest reaction by far was from Jayson Brizuela, who wrote on Facebook, “I STILL DO NOT GET IT. Why would I spend so much for prom just so some pesky, pimply-faced, horny, teenage dude can ‘take out’ my daughter? There should be a law against offending paternal sensibilities. Dads unite!”
Although Jayson’s daughter hasn’t reached prom age yet, he’s already thinking about that special day. “It’s still far off but I think it’s something that’s always at the back of every dad’s mind, especially those who have daughters. I have a friend whose daughter just had her prom, and hearing about the experience sort of put me in advance denial for when my own daughter has to grow up.”
He says he will set special rules for his own daughter’s prom. “Apart from the usual—strict curfew, no getting drunk and no hanky-panky—we, her mom and I, will have to meet whoever her date is well in advance, and not just on the night of the prom. And most probably, we’ll have to drive them to and from the prom and after-party, if there’s one.”
He added, “I’ll be as involved as she would want me to be.”
But because Jayson’s daughter is only three and a half years old, he’s in for a bit of a wait.
Approving the gown’s design
One parent who wouldn’t be waiting for long is Patty B., a mom of two whose 16-year-old daughter is attending her first two proms in the next few weeks. Asked how involved she has been in the preparations, Patty said, “As involved as any mother should, but allowing her (daughter) to take the lead most of the time.”
Patty’s daughter chose her gown design but asked for her mom’s approval. She chose her own date as well. “I let her. But I told her I was ready to help out when needed,” Patty said.
Patty is on the school’s parent prom committee and, because of that, she said, “I’m pretty confident about not having to set more rules than what the school has already laid out for the students. The prom, to be held in the school grounds, will end at midnight. So that will be her guide. She knows that she should go straight home after.”
Although Patty wanted her daughter’s date to pick her up from the house, her daughter wanted to just meet up with him at the venue.
It was the same setup for Coochy Mamaclay’s 16-year-old daughter Gillian, who attended her prom last week. Her date did not pick her up from their house.
Coochy said, “The whole family brought her to the venue and waited until she met her date. The family left for a while while waiting for her prom to end.”
It was Gillian’s first prom, too, and Coochy said, “I was 101-percent involved—from looking for a partner and looking for a designer for her gown, to shopping for her pair of shoes to match her gown, and makeup artist-hunting.”
Coochy may have helped find the designer, but Gillian chose her design.
As for prom rules, Coochy said, “We told her to just have fun and enjoy. But before we left the venue, we made sure we met her date and took some photos. I was so excited for her.”
Parents with sons attending their proms get excited, too. Cecile De Veyra’s son Miguel will go to his second prom this year. Cecile, a mom of two, enjoyed going with him to buy clothes for his first prom. “I was also involved in ordering flowers for his friend’s crush. I will do the same for the same boy and, I think, three other friends this year.”
Her special prom rules? “I told him to enjoy the event.”
Although prom curfew was 3:30 a.m., her son asked to be picked up at midnight, which his dad did. Cecile waited for him to get home so he could share his stories. “I was glad my son enjoyed his prom so much that he didn’t want to miss it this year.”
Mindy’s 15-year-old son will also attend his second prom this year. Mindy said she’s more involved this year. “Last year, we picked out his suit at the last minute since it was a hand-me-down. He was really uncomfortable in it because it didn’t fit right. He made me promise that, for his senior prom, he would get to choose his suit. My son and I prepared a month early and looked for a nice suit.”
The first prom was an emotional moment. “It was so hard to let him go. Seeing him in his secondhand suit, I couldn’t believe he’s growing up. This year, I’m really excited for him, hence the monthlong preparation. It’s their year as seniors and he should really enjoy this.”
Last year, Mindy’s son went stag. But this year, a date invited him to a prom. Last year, they picked him up at 11 p.m. This year, she said, “We’ll be near the venue so we’ll just wait for his text or call.”
Mindy says her prom rules are simple: “To tell me if he’s planning to party afterward, with whom, and where. To leave his cell phone on all the time. To tell me if he plans to drink.”
We asked the parents we interviewed to recall their own proms.
Coochy: “It was an awkward stage of my life. It was a blind date as well. I didn’t even like my outfit as far as I remember.”
Cecile: “Almost everyone was afraid to ask and be asked to dance, and the nuns were watching from the dark convent balcony. My parents considered it another school activity, and I think they were afraid to ask how it was.”
No dates allowed
Mindy: “Ours was a ‘clean’ prom. No boys and no dates allowed.”
Jayson: “It was not so much about who your date was, or what you wore, but more important, it was about bonding with your closest friends and marking that rite of passage together.”
Patty: “The most memorable part of my own prom was being picked up by my date at home, while my Dad locked himself up in the bedroom. I think he was throwing a tantrum. The prom was fun, despite the fact that I had to have a chaperone (male cousin) who had to be my friend’s date, plus a yaya and driver waiting for me in the car outside the venue. Dad was super strict! Mom was cool but Dad was the boss!”
They may have had different prom experiences, but these parents all share the desire for their children to enjoy their own proms.
“I want my daughter to enjoy every moment while I still impose certain conditions and make sure she understands why these conditions have to be followed,” said Patty.
They have tips for other parents who are preparing for their children’s proms. Coochy said, “The most important thing is to show your support all the way. Openness is very important, especially at their age. Spend time with them on that special day so they will feel comfortable and confident. Assure your children that everything will be fine as long as they stay true to themselves, no pretensions.”
Patty said, “As a parent, it’s always normal to feel excited and overprotective of our first-time prom-goers. But remember that this is their milestone, not yours. Stay quietly on the sidelines and let them shine!”
“And take plenty of photos!” Mindy added.