As Prom season quickly approaches, I've begun to wonder about who will ask my daughter. In particular, should I be expecting someone to ask me for permission before they go with my daughter, or do I have no say in the matter? She's a high school junior (16 years old, 3rd year of high school)

Back when I took my date to prom, I asked her father for permission. Is this still expected in the modern era?

I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area, California

  • 8
    What country are you in? It could impact the answers. In the US - at this point - I think you'd be lucky if someone asks before they can marry your daughter....but I'd be shocked if it happened for a junior prom.
    – Rob P.
    Jan 18, 2013 at 12:50
  • It'd be nice if he did, but I don't think that's the norm anymore. A bit of a relic from a few generations ago.
    – DA01
    Jan 18, 2013 at 18:39

3 Answers 3


I don't think this is the "norm" per se. Neither of my prom dates ever asked my parents permission to take me to prom.

But I don't think that it's necessarily accurate to say you have no say in the matter whatsoever. I would be nervous about my 16-year-old daughter going to prom with some boy I had never met/didn't know. If you expect her would-be date to ask your permission first, then you need to communicate that to her. A simple, "Whichever boy asks you to prom needs to come speak to me before you accept" would be a clear and simple directive. And if she asks why you just respond, "Because I want to make sure he's good enough for my little girl". She will probably whine.

Another option might be that once she has been asked and has accepted, you could schedule a series of get-togethers with the boy and his parents so you can get to know each other. Or you could combine the two options.

Either way, I would make it clear that you, as Daddy, have the veto option if you don't like her prom-date choice.

  • Thank you so much. I was really confused over the modern cultural norms. Jan 18, 2013 at 9:35
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    I hope she finds a good boy and they have a great time together! Or maybe she'll just decide to go with a group of her friends instead and you won't even have to worry about it! :-D
    – Meg Coates
    Jan 18, 2013 at 15:00
  • 3
    Be very careful about "the veto". . . you do have that option, but at 16 she's making decisions everyday without you and sometimes without even considering you. Might be hard to take, but there it is. Vetoing Affairs of the Heart (yay Rick Springfield) can cause huge downline problems. She may also be of the opinion "dude, it's just prom... i'm not getting married" and that making a big todo and say dinner with him and his parents might just be a bit "old fashioned" for the young adults.
    – monsto
    Jan 23, 2013 at 12:40
  • Great answer as always @MegCoates, but it doesn't have to be an all or nothing either. "Curfew" can reflect your comfort level with the boy, whether you allow it, but insist that they go with a group of other couples as well. . . can all depend on how "trustworthy" and "upstanding" he seems too. Jan 23, 2013 at 14:17
  • In other words, he doesn't need your permission to ask her, but she needs your permission to go. Mar 31, 2017 at 14:26

Another thing to consider: You say that she's 16 and in her 3rd year of high school. That means that she's only a bit more than one year away from being at a university or otherwise possibly living away from you. At that point (right around the corner), she's going to be completely on her own in deciding who to go out with. You don't want her unprepared for that responsibility because she's never had to exercise it before.

What I'm saying is that you have two, possibly competing, important things to consider: (1) who she'll go out with now, and (2) whether she gets enough practice making important decisions like that before she's on her own. At some point (IMHO, 16 is about right), the second consideration should start outweighing the first, with you there to give advice and guidance, but not to select or veto her dates except in extreme circumstances.


I don't think that is the norm anymore, but I am not sure that is a good thing. There are many bad things that can happen to a young/inexperienced teen at a time like this. Prom itself is a VERY risky time, one of the first times a teen is able to show some responsibility.

The best thing IMHO is to just have that discussion with your daughter. Let her know how you feel about it and WHY. Try not to make this something that has to happen. Pushing her away may have even worse results. Talk to her like an adult, show her opinion some respect. Maybe you can take this decision/experience and get closer with her. Who wound't be happy to know Daddy is looking out for her and cares enough to show some interest (although as a teenager I wouldn't expect her to say things like that). Tell her this is a great time to show how responsible she can be, implying there will be more trust afterwards if things go well. Let her know if a boy isn't willing to talk to her father then maybe he really doesn't have any respect for her. She can just tell him before she answers "I would like to but my parents want to meet you first", kind of a test for him.

If she doesn't agree with this, just re-enforce how you feel and pray. This is something I don't think you can force. You only have to deal with this issue one night, forcing this will have an effect of more than one night.

  • Welcome to the site and thanks for your contribution. Jan 21, 2013 at 23:56
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    As many sex offenders are out there...? facts tell us that a child is more likely to be abused or sexually assaulted by a family member or close family friend.
    – Steve
    Jan 22, 2013 at 17:23
  • I think worrying about sex offenders would be akin of wondering about a lightning striking your daughter, literally. Please provide some references if you say it's a real problem. Jan 23, 2013 at 16:17
  • The comment was not intended to mean "all I would worry about is sex offenders", the intention is worrying about all the bad things that can happen to a young/inexperienced kid out on the town for the night. I will correct the text above.
    – William
    Jan 23, 2013 at 16:34
  • Didn't mean to imply that "all I would worry about is sex offenders" is what you meant. Simply pointing out the facts and absurdity of that particular reference. I certainly understand the sentiment of your answer; but the facts are entirely different.
    – Steve
    Jan 23, 2013 at 20:36

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