It’s the end of another school year. That means we’ve all seen about 1 million senior photos plastered on Facebook pages and at least that many prom pics. Everyone looks wonderful! I can’t believe how old my niece looks, all dolled up. Who is that woman with the lipstick, the high heels? I just can’t. In my mind she’s still a little girl. But the truth is prom just isn’t for everyone. There are teens that get left out of the big night and here are a few reasons why:
- It’s expensive. Think about the outfits, the shoes, the hair, the transportation, food, etc. Not every family or teen can afford prom. Some teens don’t want to put a financial burden on their families or are embarrassed because they know their families can’t afford it, so they just won’t go. In 2014, Visa did a Prom Spending Survey and found that the average household spent almost $1,000 on prom related expenses. Yikes! And that’s why I didn’t go to prom when I was a teenager. LOL! But seriously, I didn’t.
- It’s not exactly inclusive. Not everyone has a group of friends excited to plan a big night out together. And not everyone will be asked to prom or has the courage to ask a date to go. Those who struggle to belong, the non-social butterflies of the world, get left behind. Prom night is a night they’d rather forget.
- It comes with a lot of pressures. What happens at prom might not be too much to worry about, but the post-prom activities could put a lot of pressure on teens. Teens who don’t want to be subjected to those pressures will choose to skip the big night altogether.
Teens that skip prom because of the financial and social burdens deserve an alternative. We can help teens make memories that are cost effective, inclusive, and don’t come with the dreaded pressures that they would face with big events like prom.
I hosted an alternative to prom this year and it was incredible. We encouraged youth to come with or without a date. You could wear whatever you already had, no need to spend money on new shoes or new anything. You were encouraged to come expecting to make great memories with great people. And we promised an unforgettable night in a safe and loving environment. Our dance floor wasn’t bad either. We had no idea how many teens would show up…IT WAS PACKED! Afterwards, both parents and students thanked us. It turns out, many students miss out on big events because they can’t afford it, they are uncomfortable with the atmosphere, or they simply aren’t invited.
I’ve heard people say, youth ministry just can’t compete with the world. Oh yes we can! Especially when it’s for the right reasons – to serve them, love them, and point them to Jesus – then absolutely we can and should give students alternatives to prom and other teen events when we have the resources.
What kind of prom alternatives have you hosted?
Thanks for loving students,