Ask The Learning Advisor
Q: Can you offer any suggestions on shopping with teenagers? I have two teenage daughters and it's time to shop for school clothes. I am dreading this event and would appreciate any ideas you may have on how we can all survive this.
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.
*You may 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 live with.
*Be understanding. Remember to criticize the clothing and not your teen.
*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.
For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question to The Learning Advisor, go to http://advisor.parent-institute. com. All questions will receive a prompt answer by email.