Dear daughter: A father’s advice concerning prom night, boys, and boundaries

Dear daughter,

First of all know that I love you and want the very best for you. I realize you are no longer a little kid, but in my heart you will always be daddy’s little girl. That said, prom night is approaching, and my dad-alarms are going off like crazy, worrying about if you know how to trust your intuition and set good boundaries with boys. So instead of being stuck in fear, I am offering you some wisdom about how to best take care of yourself that evening.

  1. Don’t buy into the cultural myth that prom is a coming of age party where it’s expected that you get wasted and have sex. It’s your night and your decisions, so make them for your reasons.
  2. It’s not true that every boy wants the same thing; have sex every chance he gets. The truth is that deep down guys want the same thing as girls: closeness, intimacy, feeling loved and understood. Find non-sexual ways to experience intimacy.
  3. Your best protection against having your boundaries crossed is being aware of your internal alarms that go off to warn you that something is not right. Understand where in your body you feel the alarm: a knot in your stomach, pounding heart, sweaty palms, racing thoughts, or a tightening in your throat. Your body is telling you to wake up and take some action to take care of yourself: take a break to calm down and check in with yourself, connect with your girlfriends, or leave the situation. It usually means it’s time to set a boundary.
  4. Become aware of what might blunt your alarm: alcohol or drugs, desperately needing a boyfriend or wanting him to like you, worrying that you’re being lame, allowing self-doubts to confuse you, or low self-esteem. These are potential growing edges for you, so take them seriously and work on them.
  5. Make a list of your criteria for a dating relationship, including sexual behavior. Creating your own standards while quiet and clear-headed is a much better proposition than trying to make good decisions in the heat of the moment.
  6. Don’t let external pressures run your decisions, i.e. peer pressure, “good girl” conditioning, cultural norms about sexuality, or wanting to attract or please guys. Take quiet time to know what is right for you.DSCF8378

I love you, but what’s more important than that is do YOU love you? You will take care of yourself in direct proportion to what you feel you deserve. If you truly believe that you are loved, important, and deserve the best, your actions and decisions will match that belief.

Throw off any limiting beliefs about yourself, any “good girl” conditioning, and any self-doubts and go to prom night armed with your intuition, well thought out decisions, and your “inner-Katniss”. Have a blast, be true to yourself, and be ferocious and clear with boundaries. I believe in you.

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