Up and down the country now there are thousands of teenagers preparing for their school prom. Parents are being obliged to shell out for frocks, beauty treatments and limo hire. Excitement is reaching fever pitch and the outbreak of a new crop of acne could be devastating.


The end result – to the bystander – is, at the very least, alarming. Kids dolled up to look like something out of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding shrieking with excitement as they wave from the window of an unnaturally long shiny vehicle. It seems as though a fortune is being squandered on making youngsters look too grown up. It can’t be right surely?

But didn’t you have school dances in your day? We spent weeks deciding what to wear – the lucky few got new outfits and the rest of us swapped and improvised. We tried out makeup – not always successfully. There was speculation about who would do what with whom although seldom ever did. And the memory above all is a good one of an important evening.

At my school we were taught Scottish Country Dancing and expected to employ the associated proper etiquette. You were asked to dance, politely, and you accepted, politely, remembering to thank your partner at the end. What was so bad about that?

Us older generation are quick to criticise kids for being too casual and not understanding that a formal look is important sometimes. Yet, when they do for a prom, we say it’s over the top and wish them back into hoodies and jeans. They really can’t win.

OK, quite often the grown up gear it doesn’t always look terrific. Not many teenagers have got a firm grasp on the notion that less is more, but have a glance at some photos of your own teenage years to remind yourself that you didn’t always get it right either. Surely being a teenager is about learning to be an adult and that must involve trying things on for size – literally and metaphorically.

It’s very easy, as boring grown ups, to write the current prom trend off as a waste of money and an encouragement for children – especially girls – to be turned into sexy little adults playing grown-up games. We talk about increasing the pressure on kids, good lord, no one is forcing youngsters to attend. My son didn’t fancy his last year, so he stayed happily at home.

Instead, let’s allow your children a little bit of party pizzazz to brighten their lives and, you never know, as well as a set of happy memories, they might learn something of life that’ll stand them in good stead later.

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