by Chris Taylor, MFT, Author “Back to Basics"
We all know the stories of teens hiding clothes in their backpacks so they can change at school. This allows them to avoid the conflict of arguing with their parents about their choice in clothing, yet still have their preferred style of self-expression. With the over-sexualized culture we live in, this can have devastating results.
Young teen girls are sent an overt message that their bodies have value, and that by dressing proactively they can have all the attention they desire. After all, look at the Kardashians or any female pop star’s on-stage attire compared to their male counterpart. It isn’t hard to see the objectification of women starts at a young age. Teach your teen daughter that her value is in her intelligence and not as a sexual object
Take the tough line of educating your daughter on how boys feel entitled to violating boundaries. Do not make this male behavior acceptable, but encourage your teen to make safe choices regarding how she presents herself in situations.
For teen boys, explain the history of sagging pants. Explain to them that they will not have access to money to buy clothing with drug references or images of violence. Popular and easily hidden, a popular trend are socks that have marijuana leaves on them. Grossly oversized clothing will be discarded and tolerance will not be given.
Parents need to communicate these issues directly to their teens. Hesitate to shame your teen for their choice in clothing but instead focus on how they are feeding in to a media created image that they are following. Encourage them to express their rationale for why they choose to dress this way. Look for areas of compromise and negotiation and always communicate that you trust them to make the best decision. This doesn’t mean their best decision will always align with yours.
Parents must reassert control and move away from the anything goes; my friends have it so why can’t I approach to parenting. Non-compliance with the dominant image of middle school or high school is not life threatening, so we need to sop letting our teens convince us that it is. Being a parent means understanding that no is a complete sentence. Do not be afraid to upset your teen by setting these clear limits. If anything they will thank you that they don’t have to worry about those embarrassing pictures of them in ridiculous attire being shown tot heir future spouse.
In a world of extreme individuality, where shock value and overt sexuality sells, teach your teen that they are worth more then whatever the media, advertisers and clothing companies say they are. They are worth the love and acceptance of you and your family and no clothing for better or worse will change that. Just remember the worse of that statement goes in the trash.