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I am so compelled by this question, even though my kids are young. I should be getting the baby ready for church, but these thoughts keep swimming around in my mind after the event I attended last night.

Our town has a long standing tradition before the junior/senior prom each year: The Grand March. I'd never heard of anything like this, but all the couples gather in their finest prom attire, the whole town congregates into a gymnasium that's been decorated with the traditional prom balloons, twinkling lights, cardboard cut out decorative stands, etc. A man announces each couple by name and then the boy gives the girl a red rose and they pose for a few seconds for a photo. When that's all done, they crown the king and queen.

Remember me with the tiara?

I'm not prom queen/princess material. So I don't know if I'm just prejudiced because of my nerdiness (I didn't actually go to my senior prom-and have NO regrets. Anyway...).

I felt like the entire event was the most ridiculous waste of time. And I got to thinking about the expectations of prom night:

-appealing to a cultural standard of beauty that is all but impossible except for a few select people
-wearing an immodest dress for what purpose? ummm...I won't be crude here but I think you know what I'm meaning.
-dark room, immodest dress, boys and girls close together dancing, music that encourages what was mentioned above
-and at least when I was in high school, the culmination of prom night was a hotel room with lots of alcohol provided by some older "friend".

Am I a fuddy dud? Do I just not want kids to have fun? I mean, there was adult supervision there and an after prom party to discourage drinking and other activities. So what's the big deal? Why does this bug me? Why would I be mortified to think of my daughter in a dress like that? Why would I cringe inside if my son had one such girl on his arm and hormones coursing through his blood?

I once read somewhere that the teenage years and the college years are a time when young people are given all the privileges of adulthood with none of the responsibilities of it. In other words, they can work, earn money, go to school, have a car, go wherever they desire, expose themselves to anything under the sun, but not have a wife or husband or children who they need to take care of and be responsible for. There's no one at home wondering where they are and what they're doing. It makes no difference because everything in the single person's life is focused on themselves. *Note I am most certainly NOT calling all people who are single selfish. I've known plenty of godly, loving, pure single people.

So what's the point of all this last night?



Good points. I think as in all things, one can either take these things for good or bad. Our local schools no longer have proms at hotels, they use a more neutral venue. They also have breathalyzers at the prom, and anyone who has had anything to drink is arrested. Though there is dancing, most of the kids don't spend their time dancing, it's more socializing or doing a lot of the activities that they have (usually a number of alternate games, etc. are offered). I think if a person chooses to be bad, they'll be bad. If they choose to be good, they'll be good. I do think that life should be celebrated.

As to the adolescence...could be right. But life for teens is pretty stress filled, with demands from school, work, church, sports, college fears and pressure, and I'm not so sure that it's as easy as it seems.

April 27, 2008 at 3:07 PM  

I think that our American view of adolescence is actually either a prolonged childhood or delayed adulthood. And I don't think it's necessarily a good thing.
I went to my prom, I had fun. I did not drink and I wore a modest gown (of course it was 1983 and Princess Di's wedding dress was the basis for most prom dresses that year). But I know there were other people who, well, did other things after the prom.
I think what bothers me is the focus on self and external beauty. It really distracts from those things that are of eternal value. I do not want my little girl going to a prom and if we continue to homeschool it not likely she will have the opportunity. I don't think she'll miss out on anything by missing it.

April 28, 2008 at 8:50 AM  

Joann-You have some very valid points about the pressures of the teen years, esp. since you have two teens right now! It's true, too, that if the kids want to be bad, they'll find a way.

Cyndy-I think your delayed adulthood idea is right on the money. While teens do face pressures to grow up in many ways, they are still, particularly in their late teens/early twenties, a sense in which they have total freedom from any real responsibilities. I know for myself during that time, as much FUN as I had, I was more prone to making poor choices because there was no external pressure to do right. I wasn't in a church regularly and I was away from my parents. I think that can be a recipe for disaster.

April 29, 2008 at 7:59 AM  

I understand the teen mind is fertile for trouble and creativity. It is a stressful, hopeful, angst-filled time of life. Teens are different than those younger and those older because hormones are raging. What frustrates me in this day and age is the media selling so much junk to these guys - telling them these are the things they need as teens. There's where a lot of pressure is coming from.

I agree with all these comments. The external beauty emphasis is so strong but I don't think it's isolated to teens. It used to be strong with adults and the media has seen the potential buying base in the teens and have started marketing toward them which contributes to this dependency on all things external.

But through all this if you read stories which take place in times gone by, even as late as WWI teen years were shortened and teens moved into adulthood much earlier, taking on much more responsibility.
Maybe I'm blaming marketing too much but it seems "they" desire the expansion of those teen years to market to them, make money off of them.
I'll stop my rant now.

April 30, 2008 at 7:00 AM  

Great post. I agree with Cyndy too on the delayed adulthood, and I think you are right on in your accessment that young singles enjoy the privileges of adulthood without the responsibilities. I've read that more people walk away from their faith in their late teens/early twenties than in any other season of life. I think one of the biggest challenges to raising children in America, the Land of Plenty, is to not raise them to be totally self-centered, entitled, and undisciplined. Our "fun and games" mentality for school and even church I dare say gives kids the wrong message that all the world is there for their entertainment and happiness. No wonder college life looks like a big, drunken beach party (at least at our California universities)and the new generation joining the work force want employers to give them the moon, but don't want to actually work. No wonder so many Generation Y'ers are not getting married at all (that's too much commitment!), and have the worst work ethic of any generation ever known in U.S. History.

Ok, rant over. Thanks for the thought provoking post!

April 30, 2008 at 8:39 PM  

Shawna-Doesn't it always seem like the generation the follows our own is the worst yet? You know, everything is getting worse and worse, kids these days...I'm thinking our parents and grandparents must have thought it about us.

But is it just me or does the culture seem worse?? Or am I more aware of what I want the world to be for my own children?

I completely agree with the "fun and games" idea. It affects EVERYTHING.

May 2, 2008 at 7:21 AM  

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