Dads and Junior Proms

Posted on: 03/12/12 5:13 PM | by Jonathan McKee

My daughter Alyssa is a junior this year. The junior year brings numerous ‘rites of passage’ for a teenage girl. For Alyssa, it’s the year that she got her driver’s license, began working, took the SAT’s… and it’s also the year of Junior Prom.

A little over a month ago the two of us were outside working on our weed-eater (My daughter is awesome! She mows lawns for four different people.), and she asked me, “Dad, you don’t want me to go to junior prom, do you?”

The phrasing of Alyssa’s question in itself caught me off guard this time. I wondered… Why does she assume I won’t let her go? Is this a good thing—because she knows I don’t like what goes on at school dances? Or is this her feeling, “Dad is waaaaay too strict!” Either way, I liked the fact that she was talking to me about it.

This subject matter isn’t new to my blog and articles. Two years ago I shared with you a little bit about what goes on in the dark at school dances. Then last year I blogged about when Alyssa asked me, “Dad, Can I Go to the Homecoming Dance?” (You’ll have to read that if you want to know if I let her go.) Today I wrote a guest post about it on Doug’s blog at

I’m sure I’m not the only dad who is going to hear that question this year, from both daughters and sons. So the question I have for you is simply, how are you going to have that conversation?

Last week I wrote a Youth Culture Window article asking that very question, and providing you with a tool that might help you get your teenagers talking about this subject. In this article I actually recommend that you rent the 2011 film, Footloose, and discuss it with your kids afterwards. (In that article I provide discussion questions you can use.)

Let me be transparent. Our kids aren’t always going to be open to these teaching moments. When I told my own girls that it would be fun to watch the film, my youngest, Ashley, was skeptical. “Dad, how many times are you going to pause and talk?” She knows that I love those “pause button moments.” She started doing a “Daddy” impression, making fun of my teaching moments (it was pretty funny—I might just have to catch one of those impressions on film for you guys).

Footloose isn’t the only tool to get your teenagers talking. Last week I wrote about using YouTube. The tool isn’t important… the conversations, however, are.

What tools do you use to get your teenagers talking?

What are some of the issues that you find it difficult to get your teenagers talking about?

4 Replies to “Dads and Junior Proms”

  1. A way that I have found helpful to have meaningful conversations with my two girls is to introduce the subject with a story that I may have heard on the news, an article, etc. “Hey did you guys hear about the kids who were drinking & driving and smashed into the Catholic Church sign totally destroying it? True story. This leads into a casual conversation about the choice to underage drink, driving drunk and the consequences. I have had many short intentional covert conversations like this and they seem to be received well. These short lessons will hopefully be building blocks for discernment when they are faced with difficult choices.

  2. I have found that the difficult discussions are a whole lot easier when you take time to have the light hearted discussions first. Sometimes as parents we feel the “discussions” need to be centered around “great wisdom” we can pass on to our kids when all they need sometimes is to know we can talk about stuff. I have found that those moments of lighter discussion times allow you to get to know your kid better, and it allows them to get to know you on a different level as well. The light hearted talks I feel are a great open door for those harder discussions.

    1. Jed… excellent words. I had that happen to me recently when we were laughing and watching YouTube together. Before we knew it, the discussion turned a little more serious. Great talk.

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