November 1, 2007, - 12:26 pm

Homecoming: Yet Another Victim of Hooking Up; Great Advice for Your Sons & Daughters

By Debbie Schlussel
Add high school homecoming dances to the list of victims of the end of courtship and the ratcheting up of hooking up. That’s what my friend, Detroit-based Wall Street Journal columnist and reporter Jeff Zaslow says in his column today. And it’s of interest because it’s a symptom of a larger picture, the upgrade of ho’ing around in America and the downgrade of traditional courtship which has been all but erased for some time.
Why act like humans with minds, when you can act like all the other animals on basic instinct? This great column makes all the necessary points, which Zaslow and his wife experienced through his 16-year-old daughter. If you have teen sons and daughters, he provides some great advice (he was a nationally syndicated advice columnist):

Some Date: How Homecoming Is Losing Out to Hanging Out
By Jeff Zaslow


Last month, a boy asked my 16-year-old daughter to his school’s homecoming dance. She agreed to go, bought a new dress and made a hairdresser appointment.
The boy never bought tickets to the dance. Neither did his friends. They decided that attending homecoming wouldn’t be cool, and instead planned to just dress up that night, go out for dinner and then hang out with their dates at someone’s house.
My daughter was disappointed, as were her girlfriends. They would have loved to have been taken to the dance, to show off their dresses, to see and be seen.
At 6 p.m. on the night of the boycotted dance, about a dozen of these girls and their dates gathered in one boy’s backyard so a mob of parents could photograph them. I found it dispiriting. My heart went out to those girls — all dressed up with no place to go. Couldn’t we, as parents, have demanded that the boys take our daughters to the dance? Why did we stand there, clicking our digital cameras, saying nothing?
I live in suburban Detroit, but this phenomenon is playing out elsewhere in the country, too — a telling example of the indifference with which young people today view dating, chivalry and romance.
Studies, of course, show more young people skipping romantic relationships in favor of “hooking up.” As teens socialize in packs, forgo one-on-one dating and trade sex nonchalantly, it is no stretch to find that boys are asking girls to homecoming and not bothering to take them there. But with so many young people ignoring once-sacrosanct dating rites, how can we respond?
At some schools, students are boycotting dances to protest bans on sexually suggestive “freak dancing.” At others, dances are just falling out of favor. Southeast High School in Wichita, Kan., canceled its homecoming dance last February after just 27 tickets were sold, half to members of the homecoming court. At Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pa., class of ’06 homecoming queen Cathy Caramanico never got her big moment at the dance. It was called off due to lack of interest.
Readers, how does dating among today’s teenagers seem different from when you were a teenager? Are there any changes that have taken place for the better? What are the changes for the worse? Share your thoughts.Many teens today prefer to gather in someone’s basement because it’s easier to pair off in dark corners. “There aren’t as many chaperones in basements as at dances,” says Ms. Caramanico.
Meanwhile, 60% of 125 college students in a new study by Michigan State University have had a sexual “friends with benefits” relationship. Nine out of 10 “hookups” didn’t lead to dating relationships, the study found. More ominously, after casual sex, females are more likely than males to show symptoms of depression, according to a study reported last year in the Journal of Sex Research.
“Young women are longing for romance,” says Laura Sessions Stepp, author of “Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both.” She interviewed girls who considered it empowering to be dismissive of romance and casual about sex. Later, many were beset with regrets.
Obviously, boys no longer have to call girls on Wednesday for a Saturday date. Now, college boys seeking weekend hookups send girls “U busy?” text messages at 2 or 3 a.m., and girls routinely rouse themselves and go, according to Ms. Stepp’s research. Many girls spend the next day clutching their cellphones, waiting in vain for the boy to call.
While visiting a high school students in McLean, Va., Ms. Stepp was approached by four girls seeking advice. They wanted to start a “dating club.” “These were gorgeous girls,” she says. “I told them to print up T-shirts: ‘Ask me for a date.’ ”
Family advocates say we should ask our daughters, point blank, about hooking up. “Does it make you happy?” And we should explain that it can be helpful for teens to start practicing relationships — learning to listen, to trust, to consider someone’s needs.
My wife and I debated insisting that our daughter’s date take her to homecoming. Our daughter asked us not to do that. The boy, a nice kid, wanted to go to homecoming, she said, but was following his peers. Because there was parental supervision at that night’s gathering, we bit our lips and let it be.
As the father of three daughters, I wish that more parents of sons would talk to their boys about being respectful, and about the thrill that can come from holding hands. Those of us with daughters need to tell them that empowerment is less about sexual freedom and more about recognizing their true feelings.
It is too bad that my daughter and her friends didn’t demand that the boys take them to homecoming. Yes, they risked being dumped for easier girls. But maybe the boys would have gotten the message and, as promised, graciously escorted their dates to the dance.

I think the problem here is that too many parents do not teach their kids the lessons Jeff Zaslow and most of you teach yours. Then, they find themselves in the minority and the object of scorn for having traditional values.
But it’s always good to be different, especially if you are different AND right.

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11 Responses

I once read a very good article by Rabbi Shmmuley Boteach who has several daughters. He said their first “date” was with him so he could teach her how a man should act and she would know when being treated well. So, I make it a practice to have special “dates” with my daughter and my wife takes out our son to teach him how to treat a lady. At this rate, maybe our children will be the only ones who understand how to treat a lady and how to be treated, but they’ll know.

Blayne on November 1, 2007 at 3:15 pm

check out to see the other side of the coin. This is what the young men of today are seeing.

Kev on November 1, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Acting like animals is right! People think that they are training dogs; I think dogs are training people.

Perry on November 1, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Yikes! No, I didn’t know all that. I just remembered the particular article I referenced. That was good advice, but I’ll not trust him on anything else. Thanks!

Blayne on November 1, 2007 at 6:26 pm

My daughter had been invited to the homecoming dance by Charles. She accepted. He bought tickets, arranged for a group date with two other couples to meet at his house where his mother would make a restaurant quality dinner. He bought her a corsage. The young man was a thorough gentleman.
On the day of the prom, my lazy daughter decided she would rather go without Charles, and just hang out with her loser girlfriends. I said, “no, you told Charles you would go with him, and you are going.”
She threatened suicide, among other punishments for me…to which I responded calmly: If you kill yourself because you didn’t want to honor your promise to Charles, I will not have a funeral for you, you will burn in Hell, because killing yourself is murder and throwing the precious gift of life into the face of your Creator. You have until 11 am to tell the boy what time to pick you up for the dance. If you do not go, you are grounded for the rest of the year. No phone. No computer. No TV. No radio, CD, MP3 player. Nada. You get the privilege of coming up to your room after school to stay. And I will lock you in your room.
She bawled her eyes out and threw a tantrum worthy of a two year old, but in the end, she sniffled, “Charles can pick me up at 5.”
That’s a precious memory for at least one of us. Heh.

Jauhara Al-Kafirah on November 1, 2007 at 9:00 pm

Most of the guys in school that went to elaborate plans for the Prom did so because they had steady girlfriends they were planning on riding like bubba on his farm animals. Don’t let the facade fool you, teenage men regardless of their manners think about one thing and only one thing. I didn’t have the money for the Prom but my mom offered me a loan, but I didn’t ask a girl, just for the sake of going. My teacher sensed a weakness and humiliated me in front of the class asking why I wasn’t going. It didn’t really matter at that point, I had dated three cheerleaders and two songleaders by that time and she was a rather likeable lesbian with a ’69 red Charger. Parents create a fantasy for young girls that rarely lives up to the reality. All social interaction for them seems like it is cyberworld these days anyway, trying to make them into Grace Kelly won’t necessarily make them a success.

code7 on November 1, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Quite frankly, in my years I had marijuana on my mind more than sex, Treated the girls I dated well, had the philisophy of only having sex with someone I loved. At my high school, and it’s still this way today, if you don’t go to homecoming you probably are either at a party getting drunk, hanging with friends, or alone. This sort of thing doesn’t really occur there. Your generalization has made me feel the need to call you a sexist and I must say that so many females are as horny as males are depicted as. Fact is, the human race is a sexualized one, and you can hide it all you want from yourself but you too are the same way.

    CNasty on October 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm

I dislike the tone of the article treating the girls like victims and putting the blame mostly on the boys.
Boys would have killed for this situation when I was a teenager. The difference is today is that they have it. What changed? Girls let them away with it.
The Girls may not like how they are treated, but they do get something out of it. Social status.
Of course their rulebook for status is defined by the likes of MTV or Britney Spears (when she was popular). So in that sense they are partial victims for parents allowing that garbage to enter their homes.
Regardless, girls are the ones who determined what “the deal was” when I was a teenager and they can determine it now if they chose too.

jpm100 on November 1, 2007 at 10:34 pm

Sadly I went to an Orthodox Jewish High School that was all boys. On top of this my parents used me as the scapegoat in my family (I have one younger sister) and my so called Jewish community didn’t care either so my high school I was very withdrawn depressed and unfortunately didn’t talk to girls at all during those years and sadly those years were the worst years of my life so far. Sadly I’m still single at 34. Sigh. I will say though as I have matured and developed some responsibilty communities only like guys that are passive and I was banned from a so called Orthodox Jewish dating site for simply complaining about a minor thing on the matchmaker who was setting me up. Your afraid to say anything to a girl today.
WIth so many children without fathers in this generation it must effect teenage boys ability to be responsible.
YOU ARE RIGHT ON though about “Rabbi” Boteach. He is a disgrace.

adam6275 on November 2, 2007 at 1:26 am

When I was in highschool in the 1970’s, there was still a modicum of decency and rules for behavior (though it was fast eroding). The only way for society to deal with the degenerate state of boy/girl relationships now is to pull way back and return to the strict ways of an earlier time. You know, like how the “pendulum swings”? I suspect that what will happen is that this generation will grow up, and many will catch a clue that they were essentially neglected and abused by incompetent baby-boomer parenting, and will react by turning to religion and changing the tide with their own parenting practices. Let’s hope their religion choice for change isn’t Islam.
I’m Orthodox now, and dating and dancing is strictly prohibited for young people. I have mixed feelings about they way things are done in the Orthodox world, but there aren’t many middle-ground choices out there. I certainly wouldn’t want my daughter (if I had one) dating boys in the way that typical highschoolers in America date. So what can you do. There seems to be no in-between.

AmericanJewess on November 2, 2007 at 2:37 am

adam6275- Congrats on still being single, at 34 your the perfect age to find a great spouse. First rule, no women under 26! They are still trying to figure out what they can get away with from a man. Second rule, completely ignore any input from your mother. Third rule, boost your self-esteem and confidence anyway you can. Everyone is terrified of dating except Psychopaths and narcissistic chronic womanizers, yes women flock to them but neither ends up happy so the field is littered with broken souls. Try dating a few women that are 38, yes specifically 38, must be the most accomodating, horny women ever to walk the planet. If they dont’t get you back in the game no one will. And remember to keep it simple!

code7 on November 2, 2007 at 9:05 am

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