“Will you go to Prom with me?” Countless teens ask every year about this undoubtedly scantily clad showcase for the (male) eyes, which I eschew as anti-holy behavior. I have a question, with two aspects.
- If my children are courting during the spring, should they be encouraged to attend, or taught to avoid it?
- If my children are NOT courting during this time, should they be allowed to accept or make an invitation for the date?
A young couple came with their newborn to ask their rabbi, “When should we start thinking about her education?” He replied, “You’re already about nine months behind schedule.”
Your question is one that parents need to ask themselves when their children are thinking of sandboxes, not proms. In thousands of interactions over many years, parents should be modeling and presenting their moral and religious attitudes towards male-female interaction. A few weeks before prom season is a terrible time to have these discussions. The question itself should be part of the equation in where and how you educate your child.
We honestly don’t know what to tell you at this point. The best late fix we can offer is sharing Gila Manolson’s book, Hands Off: This May Be Love with your children and using it to facilitate conversation. We would urge parents of young children to already acquire it and use it to start thinking of these issues among themselves before it is relevant.
Best wishes as you navigate these precious years,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin