Permission to Go to the Homecoming Dance

This morning Alyssa and I had an very honest and open conversation about the homecoming dance this coming weekend.

I basically asked her, “Why am I letting you go?”

I think you’ll find the conversation intriguing.

This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about the homecoming dance. Last year I blogged about my struggle with the decision, giving my readers a glimpse at what goes on at school dances, and the second I posted it (Dad, Can I Go to the Homecoming Dance?), the comments started pouring in.

“I’m disgusted that parents would let their kids go.”

“Christians have no places at dances.”

“Why are all these kids who have a heart for Christ wanting to hang out in a place that is so entirely sinful?”

As I look at the playlist for this year’s dance (my daughter caught a sneak peek of it on Facebook and sent me a copy—I just wrote about it in detail here in my latest post at DougFields.com), I began second-guessing my decision to let her go. So I decided to do what I tell all my parents in my parenting workshops: “Have a dialogue with your kids about it.”

Alyssa and I go to breakfast every Tuesday morning. It’s an awesome time for just the two of us to talk about life. She’s a senior now, and I’m already starting to dread the thought of her leaving for school in less than a year now.

This morning I asked Alyssa a rather poignant question about the dance. “Alyssa, you know I trust you, and I know that you want to do what’s right. So tell me again… why am I letting you and your sister go to the Homecoming dance this weekend?”

She chuckled at me because we’ve had this conversation so many times. She’s sat in my parent workshops and actually fielded questions from parents asking her, “Is your dad too strict?”

Alyssa and her sister are going to the Homecoming dance this Saturday with two friends from church. They are coming to our house and taking pictures, and then the guys are taking them out to a very fine dinner establishment (In & Out Burger). They’ll go to the dance for a little bit where they dance in a group, then they’ll come back to our house and hang out, eat a little unhealthy food and maybe even watch a movie.

“The movie was one of the best parts last year,” Alyssa reminded me. “My friends and I were all watching High School Musical 3, while all my friends from school were getting wasted.”

Here’s just a piece of our conversation this morning:

DAD: So how do you, as a Christian, not get caught up in all that crazy stuff that’s going on out on the dance floor—the bad lyrics, the grinding.

ALYSSA: First of all, we’re not even near it. We hang out on the edges of the dance floor with all the nerds. We actually face each other and just have a good time dancing. You’ve seen us dance.

(I have seen them dance. Alyssa dances around the house all the time. She’s hilarious.)

JONATHAN: But is there ever pressure for anyone in your group when you’re the only ones not grinding?

ALYSSA: (chuckling) First, we’re not the only ones. About half…

JONATHAN: (not letting her get away with that) I thought you told me about 75% of the floor was grinding—the girl backing it up to the guy?

ALYSSA: It depends what dance. At last year’s homecoming at (names school she went to) it was easily 75% grinding. But at this year’s opening dance it was about 50%. (Alyssa is the yearbook photo editor. She was at a dance earlier this year taking pictures.)

JONATHAN: Okay… so 50%.

ALYSSA: Yeah… so about half are grinding, and then a lot are just bouncing around and having fun. There’s a lot of nerds on the edges who just do like us—laughing and having a good time dancing innocently.

JONATHAN: But they’re still playing all the bad music…

ALYSSA: Yeah, there’s bad music there. It’s the clean versions, but kids still know the difference. But honestly, I don’t really know most those songs because I don’t listen to them. So I don’t catch a lot of that. And in the short time we’re there, I usually notice a few bad songs, but most of the time we’re just dancing around and talking with each other. You notice the bad music more than most people do, Dad.

Dad, the evening is really fun. Girls want to get dressed up and go out. We go to dinner, we take fun pictures (like the one they took last year at the top of this post), we hang out for hours afterwards. The dance is really a small part of the evening. And you know me… if it’s lame or if it’s really bad, we’ll just leave.

There you have it. From the mouths of babes.

So I’ll say it again. Why am I letting my daughters go to a dance where there’s going to be grinding and bad music? Well, because as parents who want to set appropriate guidelines, we need to pick our battles. If a daughter asks her parents to go to Homecoming and parents refuse… it’s going to be a battle. Is she asking me to buy beer for her? No. Is she asking me if she can spend the night at a guys house? No. When you really look at what she’s asking….

  • Is my daughter going to be drinking there? No.
  • Is my daughter going to be sexually promiscuous? No.
  • Is she going to be put in a situation where she might lust? No.  (If I had a son, this might be a different conversation)
  • Is she putting herself in a situation where she might be tempted to do anything wrong? No.

So why would I want to be the one to say “no” to her when she’s going to turn 18 in less than a year and then she can do whatever she wants? Is this the battle where I want to have the last stand?

Frankly, I think she’s making a good choice here… and I’m proud of her.

What about you?
Would you let your own kids go?

What scriptural backing can parents use to make this decision?

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, YOU’LL REALLY ENJOY JONATHAN’S BOOK,
CONFESSIONS OF AN IMPERFECT PARENT

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.
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14 Responses to Permission to Go to the Homecoming Dance

  1. Roger says:

    Hey, there is no better place than In-n-Out for fine dining! Every time I am on the West Coast I got t get me some In-n-Out animal style of course! :) Sounds like you have prepared her to make good choices. I’ve raised three boys so I have no insight in the bringing up of girls. School dances for my boys were pretty lame and I am pretty sure my youngest never went to one (including prom). Thanks for posting your thoughts and providing us with your daughters thoughts too.

  2. Sarah says:

    I totally agree with you Jonathan! I love that you have breakfast with her weekly and I love the strategy of talking about it with her instead of just making the decisions and telling her the answer. I really appreciate your parenting thoughts and insight!!! You rock.

  3. Joe Vivian says:

    “Pick your battles”
    So true. Open dialogue and communication is the key. The foundation in that Parent/Child relationship starts at a very early age and continues daily throughout their adolescent lives. It is a daily practice of communication, reflection of your standards as a parent, earned respect, and most of all love.
    Just this morning my youngest was sarcastic, her usual nature, in a text to me. I responded, “smart @%$#!” She in turn said, “From a Pastor?!?” I told her, “No, from your Dad. The Pastor would have said, ‘Repent ye sarcastic daughter!’”
    She replied, “That was a good one! #legit #nosarcasmhere” And then said she said she loved me and she would text me after school.
    Communication and realism….

  4. Heidi P. says:

    Help! As a parent of just boys, how should we address the point above about temptation to lust? Our oldest is 14 and not going this year, but it is coming. We have really open conversations, so that’s a huge plus.

    How would your advice to parents differ when it’s a son?

    • Thanks Heidi. One of the struggles for young men at these dances is all the “eye candy” around the dance floor. In my article IN THE DARK which is two links away- you have to hit the first link in the post above, then follow another link- I talk about how short dresses are at today’s dances and how provocative all the girls are dancing. This can be tough for a young man. So if my son wanted to go, a lot would depend on who he was going with. If he was going with someone like my daughter and her friends who just wanted to go have good clean fun, then she would probably be able to steer him away from distractions. That, of course, varies boy to boy. The more important principle here is that we need to have frequent conversations with our boys about sex, lust, and fleeing temptation. I talk about that more in this article: http://www.thesource4parents.com/ParentingHelp/parentinghelpdetail.aspx?ID=70 We can also use movies like the new version of Footloose to talk with our teenagers about the subject. I talk more about that in this article: http://www.thesource4parents.com/youthculturewindow/article.aspx?ID=215 I hope that helps just a bit.

  5. Julie Smith says:

    What cute girls in that picture….how much did you have to pay those models?? :) Enjoyed your article…I am sure your girls will have some great fun this weekend.

  6. Tracey says:

    Here is the first thing I thought about when I saw this post. I remember you talking about the song Pumped Up Kicks, and here in the picture, the girls are mimicking holding guns. Hmmmm…. I know this is standard dance picture fare, but it seems to me, just my opinion, a little hypocritical. I love your posts and almost always agree with you. I especially liked the one about that song, how your wife said it had a catchy tune, and I have heard that song as bumper music on many radio shows. I don’t think the hosts know what that song is and what it means. I also have two daughters and we have discussions about behavior and dancing at school dances. How they dance there is out of my control, but at least they know my feelings, we have had the discussion, and I hope they make good choices. Thanks for all your helpful parenting insights.

    • Thanks for the comment… I think. I’ll have to remember to never post pictures of girls joking like they’re holding guns if I’ve ever recently blogged about songs about shootings. :)

    • Matthew says:

      I guess you are unfamiliar with “Charlie’s Angels”…
      Maybe you’re “jumping the gun” a bit…

  7. Shawna says:

    My daughter is a senior, and she just went to homecoming over the weekend with her boyfriend. Yes, I said boyfriend. lol And we’re the Youth Pastors. This year we allowed them to go alone, and I’m very proud of my daughter for her choices. She hears the songs, and she sees the grinding, and the two of them just stand and converse with others. (I hear they don’t dance at all. In my day, we danced. ) They’ve been dating over a year now, and have never kissed. (by their own choice. We’ve found as parents that we just don’t get to make some of those decisions for them.) Their friends, I don’t think, really believe it, but it doesn’t matter.
    The most important thing is continuing those conversations constantly with our kids. My next daughter is 13, and who knows what that will look like. But I just continue talking her. I know my parents struggled with whether they should let their Christian daughter attend dances, and they ended up letting me. If your teens communicate with you, there is less to worry about. If they don’t, I would strongly suggest parents push for it. You’ll be more at peace as a parent, especially when making these choices.
    Thanks Jonathon for your website, and for constantly encouraging us parents.

  8. Hermann says:

    Man am I glad that we don´t have that kind of homecoming dances here in Germany!
    But anyway, my daughter – just turned 18! – took up ballroom dancing when she was 15 – she doesn´t even like the hopping around that passes for dancing nowadays!
    I believe much is passed on to our children by being an example, in what they see and hear of us parents. So I am rather at ease with our three – 2 daughters 1 son!

    Shalom
    Hermann

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