A few readers have asked about the issue of clothing tweens. It is a big deal. Big. Deal.
You want your daughter clothed and not looking like a hoochie mama. You want your son wearing something that doesn't make you cringe. And they have their own ideas of what they should wear.
I'm still trying to navigate this tricky realm of the tween wardrobe, but here are a few tricks that may help.
Pre-shopping prep is key
- Sit down with your tween and make a list of activities for which your tween needs clothes (sports practices, summer pool time, school, special occasion?)
- Write what clothing items are appropriate for those activities. Chances are, this will take out a lot of the more disturbing clothing because it just isn't practical, and you can try to lead your tween to the same conclusion.
- Talk about what outfits your tween already has work well for both of you, and use those as a guide for new items.
Parents pick the stores
- As a parent, scan websites of stores and decide if you think their offerings are appropriate for your kid.
- Then you decide if it is somewhere you are willing to spend your money. You are paying, and you get to decide which companies get your money. Make that clear to your kid, and set expectations before you go shopping.
- Some of the tween stores don't work for me when it comes to my daughter, so we don't go there. I know that may not work forever, but I think may plan will be to limit shopping there to accessories. A scarf or necklace will work for me, the crop top will not.
Make it an ongoing conversation
- When watching TV with your tween, point out outfits you think are appropriate and inappropriate. Ask your tween what he or she thinks. They may say they like something you are fine with as well, and seize on that.
- Listen to your tween. Talk about why your tween likes a certain trend, and perhaps you'll discover a way to make that trend work. Talk with your tween about how they want to present themselves and how that aligns with their personality and your family values. This is a chance to discuss what you think is appropriate. Your daughter may not be ready for a full on discussion of the early sexualization of girls, per se, but you can talk about respecting your body. Talk about what you and your tween want people to notice, physical (pretty eyes, bright smile, etc.) or otherwise (you are smart, you want to look smart).
- Talk about what values matter - is green shopping important to your family? do you highly prize bargains? is quality important?
Make your role clear
- Decide ahead of time to what extent do you trust them to shop on their own.
- Discuss budget up front.
- Make it clear that the parent is in charge. Tweens have increasing independence, but you are still the parent. Decide to what extent you are comfortable letting them pick outfits and make it clear that you have veto power.
This is just the start of an ongoing discussion. Please let us know what works best for you and your tween when it comes to clothing selection.