When they are very young, choosing clothes for our kids is easy. We can dress them in outfits that we think are cute and they never offer an argument. As they get a bit older, however, and develop their own opinions, wardrobe selection can be a bit more difficult. As they approach their teenage years, most children look at fashion as a means of self-expression and do not welcome their parents’ input. Since their choices are sometimes viewed as inappropriate by mum and dad, however, some conflict is inevitable.
When Do Conflicts Begin?
A generation ago, parent/child disagreements about wardrobe usually started just before or just as the kids became teenagers. These days, however, kids are fashion savvy much younger. Elementary school aged kids are feeling the influences of pop singers and are already trying to emulate them. Since many of these celebrity examples are anything but conservative in their wardrobe selections, most parents naturally object to their pre-teen children wearing similar attire. Setting ground rules regarding fashion can be difficult, but it is important for parents to set the guidelines for younger children and to stick to them. Elementary school aged kids are not yet ready to decide what is and is not appropriate regarding fashion – that responsibility lies with their parents. Kids can have some say in what they wear, of course, but the final word needs to come from the parents.
School Dress Codes
Many, if not all schools have a written dress code policy in place, which can take the pressure off of parents in choosing school attire. Increasing numbers of schools are choosing to implement a school uniform policy, with strict guidelines for appropriate school clothes. Most schools choose plain pants or skirts teamed with either button-down shirts or a more casual polo type top. Although some parents object to school uniforms, many find that asking the kids to dress in similar fashion makes it easier to avoid battles about expensive designer clothes or clothing that the parents feel isn’t age appropriate.
The Teenage Years
Whenever possible, try to compromise with your teenage children about wardrobe. For more important things, like school performance or drug use, it is worth standing your ground, but in the big scheme of things, the type of clothing that your teen wears is really not that important. Allow your teenager a bit of freedom to choose wardrobe for casual events and for socialising with their friends, while asking that they dress more to your liking for special family events such as weddings and Christenings. Most teenagers will comply with your guidelines if you try and respect the fact that they will soon be adults, and as such, should have a considerable say in how they dress.
Establishing rules together and talking about why fashion is important can help both parents and teenagers to come to a reasonable understanding. Sometimes, all that teens really need is the sense that they are not being controlled by their parents. Most of us can vividly remember being teenagers – those years are marked by a yearning to be independent and to be allowed to express our individuality. Parents of every generation have expressed objections to their teenagers’ fashion choices, but most times, a little give on each side is all that it takes to happily coexist. Some parents find that it works well to allow teen fashion choices that are temporary, such as clothing selections, hairstyle, make-up, and hair colour, to be made solely by their teenage children, while they retain the right to forbid anything permanent, such as tattoos or piercings. The important thing is that both sides get the chance to express themselves and feel that their opinions are being heard and respected.