Southwest Wake: Opinion

March 24, 2014

Parent Pathways: Prom fever – and relief

Got cash? You’ll need it if you’ve got a teenager going to prom this spring.

Got cash?

You’ll need it if you’ve got a teenager going to prom this spring.

While a lot of teens pay their own way, or as much as they can, parents often have to kick in a chunk of cash as well.

The average cost of going to prom last year in our region was $1,200. Per teen.

Before you freak out, consider this: In the mid-Atlantic region and New England, parents spent more than $1,500, according to a survey conducted by Visa’s U.S. Financial Education organization, which polled 3,000 parents.

I’ve heard friends talking about buying dresses for daughters that range anywhere from $200 to $1,000. Then there’s the tux, dinner, flowers, nails, hair, transportation and more.

It’s all about the experience.

Did you know boys are creating “prom proposals?” I saw one in Sunday’s newspaper that ran in the engagement notices section. And one boy at a Raleigh high school built a robot and programmed it to ask his girlfriend to prom.

Prom is one of those universal experiences; some live up to the hype and some, well, don’t. Still, everyone should have a chance to give it a whirl – if they want to.

But many simply can’t afford it.

The Triangle is helping those struggling with the prom price tag. This weekend, Apex United Methodist Church will offer a one-day event, The Prom Shoppe, to provide free dresses, shoes and makeup to teens.

Through its 2014 Cinderella Project, Meredith College has been collecting prom dresses for months. Dresses will be distributed at North Hills March 29 and 30.

The Friends of Wake County Guardian ad Litem program is helping teens in foster care attend prom this year.

“We have guardian ad litems who work with the foster girls, and as they’re learning of young ladies who would like to go to the prom but need resources, we’re trying to connect them to the Meredith College event and to the Apex group,” says Liza Weidle, president of the nonprofit founded in 1991 to support the Wake County Guardian ad Litem program.

“Sometimes the foster parents have a little extra and can help them get to prom, and sometimes they don’t,” she continues. “Our first stop is to see if there’s a resource we can match them with – maybe it’s a little money for a prom ticket. One young lady wanted to get her hair done.”

Sometimes, it’s all in the details.

“I know how important prom is,” says Weidle, “and I don’t want a young lady to not be able to go to prom.”

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