As our teens are heading back to school, we are faced with the dubious task of shopping for clothes. As another mom and I were discussing, this can be equivalent to walking through a field of mines, never knowing which step is going to lead to disaster.
I do my best to say the right things and show the right amount of interest, but not too much interest. I try to give an honest opinion, but choose my words VERY carefully. Once I vented to another mom about clothes shopping, and I stopped to think about this experience from my daughter’s perspective. A couple of things that came up were the concept of beauty, discovering identity, and life skills. So here are a few things to think about before going to your local mall.
Our teen girls are constantly bombarded with images of what society considers beautiful. When they go out shopping, they are confronted with a mirror that shows them their own version of beauty. For many girls, this is difficult to realize that they won’t look like they walked off the pages of a magazine. Make sure you take this opportunity to praise her own personal beauty.
In junior high and middle school, this is the time that teens are creating their own unique identity (according to Erikson’s Stages of Development). So when they are going clothes shopping, this is a big part of their identity. What brings frustration for them is that they haven’t decided who they are yet. Urge them to try on some clothes that are out of their comfort zone. For a few items, ask them to try something on with no expectation to like it or buy it. Just get them to explore. You can also make sure you steer them away from clothes that are too tight, small, grown-up, short, etc. Teach them that your clothes say something about who you are.
Another thing to remember is that this is an opportuntiy to teach your daughter some life skills. Before leaving your home, talk about a budget. What is their budget? This helps when they are choosing what clothes to try on and buy. How do you look for the right size? Teaching them to ask the store clerk for help when they need it.
So, go out to the mall knowing that something as simple as clothes shopping gives you an opportunity to spend some time with your daughter, help her appreciate her own beauty, help mold her identity, and teach her a little about finances. OK, I think I’ve given myself a pep talk here. I’m going for it. Well, maybe tomorrow.