A: Shopping with
teenagers can be a great way to spend time together -- or an
invitation to disaster! It depends a lot on your approach. Here are
two things to consider:
Decide on what you think is a reasonable amount for your
daughters to spend on clothes. Give this amount to each one. Then
make a list before you go off to the mall. Tell them you're willing
to let them take the responsibility for buying their own clothes,
based on the guidelines of the list and the budget. They'll have to
decide what their needs are and budget their money. Is a certain
name brand worth the extra money? They may be willing to spend less
on other clothes in order to have the jeans they want. But remind
them that once the money is gone -- it's gone.
Many teens use clothes as a way to "separate" from their parents.
It's one way they can express themselves and their independence,
which is something they need to do. It's also natural for kids to
like trendy or unique clothes, so let your daughters choose some
items that reflect their tastes. But if your teen comes out of the
dressing room in the mall and asks, "Isn't this a great outfit?" and
all you see is bare skin or underwear, here are some tips:
Talk about school rules. Many schools don't allow students to
wear clothes that leave their navels bare or underwear exposed.
Check out the school dress code.
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have strong feelings about girls who dress a certain way. Keep any
name-calling to yourself. Say something general, like, "I think
those clothes are inappropriate." Then talk about the messages that
clothes send. Your daughter thinks the outfit says, "This looks
really cool." Others may read quite a different message in
suggestive clothing. Talk openly about the sexual message that
clothes like these send.
Compromise where you can. If you can't abide the shirt your
daughter has picked out, see if there's another one you can
Be understanding. Remember to criticize the clothing and not your
Pull rank when necessary. You're the parent, and sometimes it's
your job to say, "No."
Arguing over clothes is usually a losing battle. Chances are,
you'll want to save your fire for more important issues. Letting
your teenagers make decisions is a very important thing that you as
a parent have to do.
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Copyright 2006, The Parent Institute
"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful
Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.