When you have a teenager it can be tempting to try and make their decisions for them sometimes because, as a parent, you think that you know better and you just want to help them to avoid making mistakes or embarrassing themselves in various ways. This is a very natural instinct, but it is not always the right way to go about things.
A good example of this is teenage clothing. Often, teenagers will want to push the fashion boundaries and wear clothing that you may think is impractical or undesirable in some way, but you know what, for the most part, you should probably just let them wear it anyway! Why?
It will help them make better choices
If you are always doing everything for your teenagers and giving them very little freedom to decide what to do for themselves, they are never going to be able to make mistakes, which means they will not be able to learn from them either. Sure, you might think that heading off to a job interview wearing anything but a suit and tie is disrespectful, but they may disagree and should they get there to find everyone is suited and booted, well that will be a good lesson on what is and is not appropriate in that situation, and one they will learn in a far more effective way than if you simply badgered them about it.
It’s more than just fashion
It can be tempting to think that your childrens’ choices when it comes to clothing are little more than fashion statements, and although they can be just that, what’s in style is not necessarily the only thing your child is thinking about when choosing their teenage wardrobe.
For many teens, choosing whether to have ear piercings or not or whether to wear sports leggings or ripped jeans is about more than just following the trends; it’s about exploring who they are as a person. When you’re older you get to realise that the way you dress has much less bearing on who you are as a person than the average teenager believes is the case, but they are teenagers and they need to work that out for themself, and if choosing to dress punk or sporty or whatever, helps them to work out who they are, what they love and what they value the most, well that can only be a good thing, right?
Maintain a close relationship
Think back to when you were a teen. Did your parents ever make comments about what you were wearing or how you style your hair? How did it make you feel? Chances are it made you feel upset, annoyed, not listened to or valued as the unique human being you were. Do you really want your children to feel like that? Of course not!
By giving your children the freedom and space to explore who they are what they want to look like, you can show them that you really do value them as a person and that you understand they have their own unique personality that you are just fine with, Of course, it’s fine to offer fashion advice if you are asked to do so, but don’t put your kids down or try to ban them from dressing in the way that truly feels the most comfortable to them or you might find that they themself feel attacked and more self-conscious than they already do as growing teens who are experiencing so many bodily changes. Even the most innocuous comments about their fashion choices could do a whole lot more damage than you might think, so unless you truly think they are putting themselves in danger somehow, it is best to simply remain silent and keep it to yourself if you happen not to favour an outfit they have chosen to wear.
Teach them a valuable lesson
Another way that letting your teens choose their own style can be a positive thing is when you can use it to teach a lesson. Naturally, lots of kids will gravitate towards expensive designer brands. Instead of outright banning them from wearing them due to the cost, tell them they can get a job or do some work for you around the house to earn said coveted item of clothing and you can teach them a valuable lesson about the cost of things, and maybe even show them that designer labels aren’t the be-all and end-all. Whereas if you simply close the conversation down as soon as they ask, it will probably take them a little longer to realise that for themselves.
You could also use their clothing choices to teach them more about ethical practices and environmentalism, or even more likely, for them to teach you about it. These days, this is something a lot of teens are very interested in, and by preventing them from choosing their own style, you could be preventing them from trying to make ethical choices by buying outfits you might find a little odd in the local charity shops or spending a little more on a 100 percent recycled brand. Kids often know more about this stuff than we do, sp by not letting them make their own choices, you could be doing them a huge disservice.
The Bottom Line
Clothing is really important for teenagers. It is not all about how they look – they use clothes to express themselves, explore who they really are, and even to send a message about their ethical beliefs, while also practising what they preach.
As a supportive parent, it is really important that you give them that space to explore, let your teens choose their own style and that you do not ridicule their fashion choices so that they can feel comfortable coming to you when they need to. Fashion advice is always welcome when it is asked for, and if your teens are asking you for advice you must be doing something right, but try not to comment on their appearance otherwise if you can help it!