In days gone by, the most popular clothing advice from parents to their kids was to always wear clean underpants in case you got hit by a bus.
Up against trends and “must haves”, what to wear can be a particularly challenging part of being a parent of a tween or teenager.
Most tweens and teenagers love experimenting with different styles, and what’s hot this week may not last long. During in this awkward time of self discovery it’s great to encourage their individuality and personal style, but you may want to consider some ground rules.
Time and Place
Sure, those super short shorts can be worn to the beach, or that fabulous but flimsy top can go over to your aunt’s house but it’s not appropriate to wear a nipple-baring muscle shirt to school. This way, nothing is outlawed and just like you can’t wear a huge Aran sweater in January, sometimes tight tops, thin straps and leggings as pants aren’t appropriate either.
Setting a bad example
Teach them to think about their choices: would others be upset or offended if they saw them wearing this outfit? Are they being a “trendsetter” for all the wrong reasons? If they believe the answer is “yes”, it may be time to reconsider the look they’ve chosen.
Is the outfit too revealing?
It’s always been hard for parents to keep up with what kids are wearing these days, but the idea of what is too revealing is timeless. Finding positive ways to teach your children that no one wants to see their butts, nipples or underpants, without shaming them, gives them empowerment over their bodies. Learning that an outfit that shows too much skin, or is inappropriate for school is part of exploring different looks.
Practical Issues About Teenager Clothing
Fashion sense isn’t the only thing that comes into play when your teenager builds their wardrobe. Budget and practicality must also play a role. Will it be difficult to clean? Kids can be tough on their clothes, so you don’t want to pay a lot of money for something and then have it ruined by a splash of cordial. Teenagers are also prone to growth spurts. If you are buying staples such as jeans, consider whether or not they are likely to grow out of them quickly.
Give Your Child Props for Good Fashion Sense
While it is easy to look at your teenager’s choice of clothing and think they made the choice simply for shock value (or to make you lose your mind), you should give them more credit than that. A new outfit is a way to express yourself – and for a teenager, there are few things more important.
Give your teen or tween a chance to explain why they made the fashion decision. It will not only make them feel more empowered, but may also provide a window into who they are, and how they view themselves.
Resist the urge to dictate what they should wear, and be there to help provide advice along the way.
Puberty brings lots of questions about dressing to attract people they find attractive, both as friends and as romantic interests. Discussing the concept of being an individual and doing your own thing with clothing, within boundaries such as budget, functionality and social norms, opens the way for conversations about pushing the envelope while respecting the establishment as expressed by dress codes and uniforms.
In the end, teaching your kids what not to wear is about teaching them some of the lessons of the world. There is a time and a place for things, and you should always wear “age appropriate” clothing.