The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Teens Can Accept Green Instead of Greenbacks

A teachable moment arrived recently in the form of an e-mail from the graduation committee of my daughter’s high school. It was a plea for extra donations to keep Safe and Sober Grad Night afloat. The Senior Class ritual is jeopardized because families and community businesses who usually fund the celebration are themselves struggling to stay afloat.

Safe and Sober Grad Night is a wonderful tradition for many Marin high schools. Seniors pile into buses shortly after tossing their mortarboards, and head for an all-night, chaperoned, substance-free party.  No one is excluded. There are no intoxicated senior drivers, no fancy clothes, no panic attacks or tears about who has a date and what to wear. It’s a bunch of kids, many of whom have known each other since kindergarten, celebrating all they have meant to one another before they set off for broader and divergent horizons.

I am glad to write a check to support Safe and Sober Grad night, but can’t we do more? What if we embrace the economic meltdown as an opportunity to scale back on excess and teach our kids the true value of community?

Marin, with its ostentatious consumption and intense pressure to keep up appearances, has always been a tough county. Rich and poor families both contend with the twin epidemics of affluenza and entitlement that commonly infect Marin kids. The financially stressed face even more urgent hardships.

These struggling families are not new, they’ve just been hidden. Long before Wall Street went belly up, there have been kids in Marin who skip prom because they don’t want to burden their parents. Countless parents have lost sleep trying to conjure up enough cash so their kids can keep up in the social competition. The widespread pain from the current economic crisis makes it easier to shed light on a problem that’s been here in the shadows all along.

Happily, there are signs of progress. Teens Turning Green, an organization founded by Marin students, is expanding its original emphasis on cosmetic safety to promote ecologically and economically friendly prom-going. Now that the focus on green includes the shrinking abundance of greenbacks, there’s an even greater opportunity for finding the silver lining in this perfect storm.

Of course, it’s fun to dress up and show off from time to time-- one needn’t be a killjoy. But imagine if everybody downsized in the status competition and contributed the savings to Safe and Sober Grad Night--especially the kids who don’t need to for their wallets, but may need to for their souls.

What if winter formals in far-flung San Francisco morph into winter square dances in the school gym? What if proms no longer feature pricey chocolate fondue fountains that ruin the girls’ finery? What if stretch limos and exorbitant ticket prices become as uncool as tobacco?

Imagine nobody losing sleep about affording either prom or graduation! As Teens Turning Green suggests, kids can lend and borrow clothes. They can do each others’ hair, toes, and make-up. They can drive the family car and donate what they would have spent on a stretch limo and all the accessories to Safe and Sober Grad Night.  Kids can even hold a car wash to get those prom wheels gleaming while raising money for the common good. Parents can do more than write a check—they can encourage their kids to give up excessive spending and instead give of themselves.

Teaching our graduates the value of community and living within their means—now wouldn’t that be a terrific send-off?

By Lorrie Goldin

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Oo, you're good. I hope this makes it into the IJ, The Chronicle, and any other local paper that gets read. (Oh, and KQED.) This is important. Nice job.
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