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Your teen is wearing inappropriate clothes, how do you talk about this?


The teen years are not easy for parents or for teens. Teens try to set themselves apart from their parents, and one way may be to dress in a way that parents may object to. Are the clothes really inappropriate or just different from what you are used to or expect? New and sometimes shocking clothes and hairstyles may be a way to try out a new identity, or a way to fit in. Peer pressure is a typical adolescent issue that manifests itself in different ways, some dangerous and some annoying. Adolescence is a time of self expression, rebellion and independence, and that may cause conflicts with parents as behavior issues come up. Talking to your teen about these issues is a way of communicating your concern as well as your understanding.

Parents have to express their expectations and values, and draw the line at risky and dangerous behaviors. Teens are under a lot of pressure, but parents need to give them some space and allow them to express themselves in ways that will not do them harm. As parents, we can't expect our teens to be the same as we were. It's important to talk with your teen about the dangers and consequences of engaging in risky behavior, but when it comes to clothes and hair, it may not be worth the argument. Set rules for what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior together with your teen, and be clear on the non-negotiable issues. Involve your teen in setting limitations and agree on the consequences. Establish the rules and make it clear that you will enforce them. Be reasonable and understanding, and set priorities for you and your teen. Ask yourself if you are trying to control your teens or protect them. Accept that your teen's opinions and taste may be different from yours. And remember, communication, understanding and compromise are the keys to avoiding unnecessary conflicts and helping your teen learn good judgment.


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