Proms are hitting the scene from coast to coast. It’s an incredibly fun time for parents and kids alike as they celebrate the end of the year … for many, the end of an era. One MOAT story convicted me and I hope you don’t mind me sharing.
It’s from a family whose son is graduating after walking the high school road on the high side. He and his buddies committed from the get-go to steer clear of drinking, drugs, pornography, inappropriate relationships, basically anything that might get them in trouble. The neat thing about it? They asked each other to hold themselves accountable … along with their parents and youth group leader. And the truth is… they did a terrific job. Did any of them stray? You bet. But they were honest and they stepped in to help each other. I personally know one of the kids and it has been incredibly neat to watch them live life well.
When the topic of prom came up, each of the guys invited their dates (some girlfriends, some friends), arranged for the meal, rented a bus, … they did it all. (Here’s a MOAT Shout-Out for guys organizing!). One more thing, the group has been counter-cultural to say the least. So they stick out a bit among their class of 1000 kids.The aren’t invited to lots of things. Not because they’re ostracized, but mostly becuase the other kids know it’s not up their alley.
After prom, everyone goes to an after party. As apparently is the norm these days, after parties are often sleep-overs. (okay, sidebar and possible prude-alert … It’s at this point where I hold up my hands and “Say What??!!” I know I’m not there yet, but I just can’t understand putting hormone-induced judgement-impaired boys with insecure girls at a sleep over! I don’t get it. … but that’s beside the point.)
This group, decided that they had stood their ground on just about everything else. So why not be normal, be like all the other groups and have a sleep over after the dance. An “appropriate” sleep over. The kids had to shop the idea to a few parents. Several said no, but they found a yes and proceeded. It was decided that the girls would sleep upstairs and the boys in the basement. Plus the host family decided that they would turn on the alarm to “keep them in and safe” … the host dad explained/justified to the other parents. A few parents saw major red flags, but no one said anything – assuming that since no one did, all agreed with the decision.
Sure signs you might need to rethink a decision?
- It requires lots of explaining and justification
- The idea has to be shopped to get the desired answer
- You aren’t excited about pictures being taken (you know, Facebook)
- The action in question will take a Sharpee black line and make it gray
Because, truth be told, we all know that the black lines are much easier to see than gray. When you make an exception and justify “just a sip of a beer” (for an underage teen), it certainly makes it easier to drink a few sips the next time, then a whole beer, then… We all know the way the story ends.
In this story, you sleep in the same house as your dates … snuggle up by the t.v., get to bed a bit late, live on the edge, but don’t cross the line. Okay. But what happens when you’re in college? Hanging out/sleeping over is staring you in the face constantly.
The kid we know was told to get home by 2 am. No sleeping over. Frustrated, he didn’t say a word. He obeyed his folks, but was mad to say the least. The next day, he and his parents talked it out.
Question: “Why didn’t you trust me to spend the night?” Answer: “We do trust you and appreciate your decision making process. It wasn’t that we didn’t trust you … We were concerned about the perception. You’ve walked the high road your entire High School career.”
Question: “Facing the sleep-over situation before I hit college, while I’m at home, would prepare me. Why not let us learn how to do it well?” Answer: “That’s exactly what we were going for. DON’T participate in those situations. Not just because it is incredibly difficult for a guy to keep his mind off certain things in those situations, but also for the girl’s sake. Think about that for a minute. Would you want your sister spending the night with girls and guys? Even if nothing happens, you know what people think. You know how guys think!”
Once they started talking, he began to understand. Question: “Why didn’t you just talk to me? Talk to all of us?” Answer: “We messed up. We should have talked to you. In fact we should have talked to the other parents, too. … And we will.” (Which they did.)
The great thing about the weekend? The kids grasped the concept that a reputation can be tarnished just by appearances … even if nothing happened. The parents learned that the youth leader isn’t always going to be on top of things. Both parents and kids learned that it’s important to talk things out. Lots more great things came out of it including terrific talks, not just between parents and kids but between these kids and several other peers.
I’m so glad this MOAT shared her story. I’ve asked her to write us about the other great things that came of this. It’s such an important topic. Not just for the kids. It has made me think about areas in my life that I’ve allowed to go gray (and I’m not talking about my hair!). We could all use a gut check at times… because the road can be a bit rocky.
Thanks for walking it with me.