I know it's hot outside, but...
The humidity is here. The sun is hot and all you can think about is keeping cool. It took some time but summer has finally arrived. Time for relaxed clothing to ensure that you keep cool. Enter your daughter. You catch a quick glimpse of her as she is rushing out the door. Halt! What is she NOT wearing? You cringe at her get-up. She looks so provocative you believe she would be better served walking out naked, at least then nothing would be left to the imagination.
You take a deep breath as you prepare for the re-direct, you dread that the battle over her wardrobe is about to begin. There is no way, however, that you are letting your sweet baby walk out looking like that. Some strippers wear more clothes. That piece of fabric masking as a skirt is so short it’s functionality is unclear; her shirt is cut so low it almost touches her bellybutton, which by the way, isn’t covered by anything; and you can’t even get into those spiked foot coverings she is wearing; to call them shoes would be a misrepresentation.
Doesn’t your daughter see what you see? Doesn’t she understand the message her clothing is sending? She is a smart, insightful and caring young woman, how come she is dressing like this?
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The reality is, if your daughter is like most teens, she does not perceive the situation the same way you do. To you your scantly dressed daughter signifies danger and distress. Your daughter, however, lost in adolescent egocentrism, probably believes she has struck the best balance between keeping cool and looking hot. Quite frankly, who can blame her when summer magazine spreads are focused on selling -- and let’s be real, sex sells. While as her parent, your influence continues to be important, your daughter is at an age where she turns to her favorite celebrities and models in magazines to guide her ‘look.’ What she fails to recognize, however, is that her favorite actress is looking for a photo op, not leaving to go to her summer job as a cashier or camp counselor, or even simply to hang out at the mall.
When you see your daughter so scantly clad, your mind fills up with the potential pitfalls of these wardrobe choices. Your focus is on the average guy who is likely to ogle her, the creep in the mall who wants to accost her. Your daughter does not think this way. Teens naturally walk around believing that bad things happen to other people.
How can you fight with her over fashion? The answer is gently.
Refrain from the urge to yell and scream.
· Put her in front of a mirror and ask her to tell you if she sees what you see.
· Go through her wardrobe and take out all the pieces that you find offensive, even if you are not sure where she got them to begin with.
· Pick out clothes and insist that she wear them.
· Lock her in her room until she changes- she’s too old and this is too tiring.
· Calmly explain your concerns.
· Compromise if possible but stand firm and clear on the issue.
· Set limits and stick to them. You are her parent, not her friend.
· Make sure your clothes model the same modesty you expect her to reflect.
· Delineate day dress from nighttime wear. That sparkly dress she wants to wear to the mall, for example, might be acceptable at a party but during the day it shouts escort service.
· Don’t buy it if you don’t want her to wear it. If you feel, for example, that the bathing suit she has chosen is more string than fabric express your concern clearly in the moment.
· When she makes purchases on her own take some time to go through with her what she has bought. Be honest if you object to an item and insist that she take it back or at least wear it in a way that you find acceptable. If she bought a low cut or midriff blouse that concerns you insist that she wear a tank top or bandeau underneath.
It’s hot outside. The last thing you want to deal with inside is a heated argument over clothing. Your daughter can look fashionable and appropriate. With a little bit of guidance, support, and consistent monitoring, you can ensure that she stays and looks cool in way in which you both approve.
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Jennifer A. Powell-Lunder, Psy. D. is currently a clinical administrator on an adolescent inpatient unit in a private psychiatric hospital. She is an adjunct Professor of Psychology at Pace University and maintains a private outpatient practice. She is also the creator of www.itsatweenslife.com, a forum for family and friends.