3 important reminders we need to share with our teens
I think promposals are dumb.
There, I said it.
My oldest just started high school, so up until last month I didn’t realize that “promposal” was 1) a word and 2) a thing.
If you have NO idea what I am talking about, this is the new way that boys ask girls to prom. For homecoming, it’s called an “ask” (probably because hocoposal sounds really weird.) The ask can be a simple, cute message on a 70-cent piece of poster board (these are not really the ones I’m complaining about). According to research, though, they are elaborate productions, with the average American boy spending $324.
Are you kidding me?!
Admittedly the 13 percent of me that is romantic feels like a fuddy-duddy for harping on something that is sweet and fun. But the 87 percent of me that is pragmatic is wondering if this practice is doing a disservice to teens, especially boys!
Now, because my high schooler is a girl and the ten-year-old son I do have thinks girls are gross (hallelujah!), I reached out to some friends who are raising high school guys. It turns out a number of parents have a number of concerns.
Concern #1: Guys face enormous pressure. High school and hormones are already a roller coaster ride. (You can recall the angst, right?) Now, insecure teens are expected to make grand romantic gestures for a girl they simply want to take to a dance—or feel pressured to take to a dance. Unless a couple is already dating, these young men are spending time, money, and emotional energy on a relationship that might not even make it to the event, and often doesn’t last beyond.
Concern #2: Social media makes it worse. Asking a girl in private is nerve-wracking enough, but most asks take place in front of an audience. After all, how can kids post the video on social media if it’s a simple, private moment? Imagine the embarrassment if the girl says no. Or what if she feels pressure to say yes because there is a crowd. It’s awkward piled on awkward.
Concern #3. Girls will end up disappointed. Maybe she feels let down because he did not do anything extra special. If he went to great lengths, she might think she is the center of his world but will eventually discover she is competing with sports practices, homework, and part-time jobs for his attention.
And let’s go down a slippery slope . . . the bigger promposals get, the more girls will come to expect from marriage proposals. This puts more value on appearance and one-time gestures than on building a relationship.
Admittedly, this came too late for homecoming, but prom is right around the corner. So let’s start sharing some important reminders with our teens right now.
- For boys, it is enough to simply get up the courage to ask. Cash and creativity might initially get attention, but that is fleeting. Character and respect will keep a girls’ attention far longer. (And if it doesn’t, well, that’s not the girl for him.) When he protests, “But everybody does an ask,” a perfectly acceptable reply is “So?!”
- For girls, it enough to simply be asked by a boy who thinks she is kind—and kind of cute too. While we lower their expectations on the ask, we raise them about the guy asking. Does he treat her well? Does he make her laugh? Did he actually ask her in person? (Because a text doesn’t count.)
- For all kids, whether they have a date or not, remind them their value comes because Jesus has given it to them. It is not conferred on them by the approval of their peers. Dresses, dates, dinners, and dances are fun, but those fade and don’t matter in the long run.
There’s a bonus reminder for adults: Don’t try to live vicariously through your kids. We had our moment to be young and awkward and carefree and insecure. We are past that and couldn’t be happier! Now our job is to be with them and listen to them as they navigate the minefield.
Linda Buxa is a writer, Bible study leader, and retreat speaker. If you think she is opinionated about promposals, you probably should not get her started on the topic of shopping for homecoming dresses. Did she miss the memo about the worldwide fabric shortage?