Parenting: Making your kid pay for prom

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My son, Jason, has been very busy lately, working several different jobs. He's under the gun to earn money to pay for his senior prom. We bought him a tux as a Hanukkah present, figuring that it would be more cost-effective to buy one rather than pay for numerous rentals over the next several years, as he goes to college fraternity formals, etc. But other than that, he has to pay for all his prom-related expenses himself.

Different parents may handle this kind of thing differently, but as Senior Prom represents a passage toward adulthood, I think it's important that high school students begin to take adult responsibility when it comes to paying for it.

And paying for prom means a lot more these days, it seems, than it used to. My prom date and I went to the prom in a car we borrowed from his dad. Jason and his friends have rented a limo-bus to take them to the prom and then to a post-prom party at the shore. The per-person cost: more than $70. That's in addition to the tickets, which are around $90 each. His post-prom party will be at a private residence, but many of his classmates are also paying more than $100 each to stay at motel at the shore overnight. And don't forget, boutonnieres and corsages. In all, each couple may spend about $500! And that's not including the tux and gown. Wow!

To me, that's a lot to spend for a single night  I don't care how old you are. I understand that prom is an important part of Senior year. But personally, I think the add-ons are excessive. And so, if Jason wants the limo, instead of driving one our perfectly good cars, he's going to have earn it. Some parents may think that's mean (I know Jason's not thrilled with it). But in real-life, which comes after high school, after all, you do need to learn to budget and only pay for things you can afford.

So, Jason has been working as an entertainer for a DJ  and giving up Saturday night dates with his girlfriend. He's added extra hours as a music teacher at our synagogue religious school. And once Little League season starts, he'll be working as an umpire. Earning hundreds of dollars while you're still a student isn't all that easy. But I'm sure he'll manage to do it.

In the end, it will be up to Jason whether all those hours of work were worth it. Maybe he'll decide the impression he'll make pulling up at prom in a fancy limo was everything he hoped it would be. Maybe he'll decide one of our cars might've been ok after all. I don't know. But I do know he'll be learning a lesson  hard work never hurt anyone. And I really do hope he has fun.

Should teens have to work to pay for extras like prom limos, or even designer clothes?

Here are some blogs on the subject;

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