Straight Talk Advice

May 07, 2013

Should Mom share her prom-night story?

Dear Straight Talk: My daughter, 17, always attends prom. She is curious about my prom experience. I wasn't popular in high school, but right before graduating, a boy I'd just met asked me to his school's prom. WOW! I was making prom after all. (Back then, a date was required.) It turned out to be a triple date — to the Motel 6 with a trunk load of booze! I, alone, was blind to the plan. To my credit, I didn't sleep with my date even though the other couples pressured me. On the other hand, I was too insecure to ask to be taken home, or, duh — to PROM! Instead I got totally plastered and wasn't taken home until 5 AM. The panel probably wants me to share this, but what does Lauren say about 'sensible' sharing for this and other wild times? — Toledo, Ohio

Dear Toledo: You underestimate what young people really want — which are sensible adults, who don't share too much. The panel nailed every shade of grey on this important question.

Taylor 16, Santa Rosa, Calif. Ask me a question

There is definitely a line. Sometimes when my parents share too much, I feel like I'm not living up to their 'exciting' lives. Or, I interpret their stories as permission to do something and then I get in trouble.

Katelyn 18, Azusa, Calif. Ask me a question

Parents shouldn't share their “wilder” experiences unless it's to guide you to better choices. Kids emulate their parents more than we'd like to believe.

Brandon 21, Mapleton, Maine Ask me a question

Hello?! Your daughter doesn't need to know you were a skank on prom night! You want to garner respect as a parent, not a party buddy. I'm sure my dad had plenty of wild nights with my mom (and other women). OMG, I can't visualize this anymore! Thankfully, he hasn't jeopardized our relationship with stories about dirty dancing to “Grease” or his auto-erotic asphyxiation phase (I made that up, Dad).

Molly 21, Berkeley, Calif. Ask me a question

Yes, teenagers are highly influenced by parents, but they still are their own people. If told in the context of making a bad choice, a story can be educational. Let her know if she's ever being pressured to have sex, she can call you (even drunk) and you'll help her, not punish her.

Ashley 25, Auburn, Calif. Ask me a question

I was determined to do anything I felt like whether my parents had done it or not. Because my dad told me everything about his past and my mom barely said a peep, I could talk to him, but not her. Best: Don't reveal everything, but let her know you've been through stuff and are there for her.

Ochatre 23, Kampala, Uganda Ask me a question

Some things are best kept secret; others you can share with anyone. I love when my parents share. Their stories are given as lessons to build me into a better person. My advice: Ascertain the purpose for which you are sharing something, and the impact it could have on the receiver.

Breanne 15, Waterville, Ohio Ask me a question

My mom was a partier and not interested in school. She's told me stories of waking up to awful hangovers, or skipping class. She never made any horrible mistakes, and is way past this stage now, but she wants an open relationship with me so she shares these things because she trusts I'm NOT following in her footsteps.

Nicole 23, Santa Rosa, Calif. Ask me a question

A child's trust and openness with you is dependent on your openness with them. However, this doesn't mean you share details!

Ryann 16, Tustin, Calif. Ask me a question

I'm close with my parents and while there are some stories they probably keep to themselves, others they share as learning experiences. It's all dependent on how you reveal things. Glorifying your partying isn't cool, but if you emphasize your mistakes and what you learned from them, it can benefit both of you.

Editor's Note: Prom season is here. For some teens, especially seniors, it can feel like their "last hurrah" of high school. And many college kids are coming home to their "first hurrah" of summer.

Parents: Let your kids know that they never need to feel too insecure to stand up to peer pressure. A story of your own that involves what can happen when you don't love yourself enough can go a long way if used tactfully and without details. Hollywood may gain audiences with gratuitous sex and drug scenes, but you will only gag your kids with a spoon. Pick your stories carefully (most are best left on the shelf till everyone's over 30), keep them G-rated, and focus on lessons learned. Many kids do unconsciously want to emulate you, so consider stories that feature a friend in the "starring" role.

Stories from the news are good, too. There are things happening commonly today, that were not in our stories. Being raped while passed-out from drinking or being slipped a "roofie" are two such newer stories. See our most current column on date rape drugs and one on being raped while passed out to understand today's terrain. (Our comment forms were broken when these columns were written. If you'd like to add comments, please do!)

Most rapists do not put videos up on Facebook; they get off completely free. 

Go over safety precautions:
• Never send a drunk to a bedroom to sleep it off.
• Never drag a passed-out person to a bedroom or other private location.
• Keep your friends in your sight at all times.
• To avoid being slipped a date-rape drug, keep your drink in your hand at all times.
• Discard a drink if you leave it unattended.
• Don't drink out of communal punch bowls.
• Take steps to identify and turn in suspected or known rapists.
• Always have a designated driver so you and your friends can leave anytime.
• Call your parents for help.

Encourage your kids to call you (not as a party buddy, but someone who understands that things can happen), and you will come pick them up wherever and in whatever condition. When someone knows you think this highly of their character, it actually increases their resiliency, self-esteem, and decision-making abilities. —Lauren

  1. By Marti, age , from Roseville, CA, U.S.A. on 05/07/2013

    I learned from my sister’s bad example, so it might be worth telling your daughter.  She went to an after prom party and got totally wasted.  Lucky for her, our parents were asleep.  I was too, but she woke me up banging into the furniture in our room.  I had to help her undress, take her into the bathroom and help her on and off the toilet, lead her back into the bedroom and put her to bed. She was sick all the next day.  Our mom isn’t stupid so I’m sure she could figure out what happened, but didn’t say anything and just let my sister go throught it, probably thinking she was suffering enough for what she did.  She could hardly remember what happened or how she got home, and it spoiled her whole prom experience.  The good thing is she never let something like this happen again.  My prom is coming up soon, and I’m not going to let it get spoiled like this after seeing what happened to her.


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  2. By Sarah, age , from Thousand Oaks, CA on 05/08/2013

    I actually wish I could hear that my mom did some wild and crazy things.  It would make her seem more human to my sister and me.  She acts like she was perfect when she was a teenager and expects us to be the same, and any typical teenage misbehavior is the end of the world to her.  She grounds us to our room over any little thing. I’ve never known a teenager who was perfect, so I can’t believe that she was.  I’ve learned more from my older sister who has confided in me about things she did and regrets and has warned me to avoid.  Similar to Marti’s sister, one time she came home so drunk I had to help her undress and use the bathroom and get to bed, but not until after she barfed partly on the bathroom floor.  I cleaned it up for her since she was in no shape to do it, so that our mom wouldn’t find out.  She learned a lesson from it and I also did, the easy way. 

    I have friends whose moms have shared some wild and crazy things they did as teenagers and they talk and laugh about it.  I wish my mom was more like this rather than being so “perfect.”


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  3. By Deanna, age , from Granite Bay, CA on 05/09/2013

    Our mom told my sister and me a funny story about something wild and crazy that she did in high school, and we’re glad she did as it made us realize that she was once a real teenager.  She said that she and her sister were at a party where there was drinking and one girl flashed her boobs in front of all the guys and dared the other girls to do it.  She says they we’re reluctant, but gave into the peer pressure to join all the other girls and did it too.  She says she was very sorry afterwards as it was very embarrassing whenever she saw any of these guys, especially when some of them would look at her chest and them smile and she knew what they we’re thinking.  She says she was very shy about even other girls seeing her body except her sister and never would have given into the peer pressure if she hadn’t been drinking, so she warned us to be careful about drinking as you never know what you might do.  We found the story funny and she can laugh about it now, but says it sure wasn’t funny to her at the time.  We especially find it funny that her sister (our aunt) did it too, since she acts like a real prude now.  Nobody ever sees my bare boobs but my sister who I share a room with and sees me naked every day and a few close girl friends, and I plan to keep it that way.  I can’t imagine doing something like this in front of guys, but who knows what I might do if I were drunk (and I never have been) so I’m going to be very careful!


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  4. By Anonymous, age , from Anonymous City and town on 05/10/2013

    When I was a teenager I got drunk at a party, ended up having sex with more than 1 guy (I was too drunk to even remember how many) and ended up pregnant.  We didn’t believe in abortion, so the baby (a girl) was given up for adoption.  This was kept secret from everyone and no one but my parents and my sister knew about it.  My father is now deceased, and I trust that my mother and sister will keep the secret.  Even my husband doesn’t know.

    I am now happily married with 2 teenaged daughters.  I don’t want them to make the same kind of mistake, as it still weighs on my heart that I have another daughter out there somewhere whom I will never know.  However, I don’t know how I could tell them not to drink and be promiscuous if they knew that I did it, so I have told them this as a story about what happened to “a friend of mine” and it seemed to help to warn them against this type of behavior.  My greatest fear is that my daughter will search for me and somehow find and expose me, as I do not know how I would explain to my husband and daughters that I kept such a secret from them.


    P.S.  I want to be totally anonymous as I don’t want to give any information that might give a clue to who I am for obvious reasons.

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  5. By Lauren Forcella, age , from Sebastopol on 05/10/2013

    Dear Anonymous—Putting a child up for adoption is one of the most heart-wrenching things any mother EVER goes through. I hear your suffering. If I were in your shoes and told a story like this, I would have cast a “friend” cast in the starring role, too. That said, and since your greatest fear is now that you will be exposed should this daughter come seeking you, perhaps a way to relieve this fear, while giving yet another a lesson to your current daughters, is to tell the story of YOUR pregnancy, as opposed to the “friend’s.” As we said all through this column, kids don’t want the details — nor are they useful. So you could just explain that you had the misfortune to get pregnant by a first lover, that you were young and unprepared emotionally to have sex and didn’t know about birth control (all true statements) and that your parents were so upset (it was common back then), that they made you keep everything a secret and give the child up for adoption (all true again). You could explain that you previously couldn’t bear to share your own story, but now you can’t hold it anymore, and you hope that if they think they are in love they will talk to you, seek out help with birth control, etc., and know you are there for them. If they press for details, just say it was a long time ago and you have shared all you can manage emotionally.

    This is just an idea of course. Only you know the best thing for you and your family. (There is the reaction of Mom and Sis, should your daughters take them aside for more information—and your husband to consider.) Besides, nobody knows if your daughter will show up looking for you or not. Perhaps you gain some peace knowing it is okay to tell an age-appropriate version of the story if she does. And perhaps she won’t ever seek you out, or will do so much later in life when your daughters are grown and you don’t have to worry about influencing them negatively. That you are cleaning it up for your daughters now is what mother bears do to protect their kids. Do not feel guilty about this.

    I urge you to talk with a counselor about this as soon as possible. As I said, giving a baby up is one of the most difficult things EVER for a mother to endure. You deserve to forgive yourself and have some peace. We all make mistakes and you have more than proven your good character in all the other moments of your life besides that one. A good counselor will help you with this. Please let me know how you are doing.—Love, Lauren

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