Ah, families and fashion. Are your kids thrilled with what you wear? Or do they say, "You're so embarrassing"? And are you thrilled with what your kids wear? Or do you worry your girls, in particular, are getting too much inspiration from reality TV stars?
To get sartorial secrets, FamilyGoesStrong checked in with psychologist and wardrobe consultant Jennifer Baumgartner, author of You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal About You and a Psychology Today blogger. Excerpts:
What should you do if your kids deem your outfits "horrifying"?
You're allowed to wear what you want. This is a great opportunity for parents to teach their children that everyone has an individual style. You could discuss what would be a better option.
What should you do if you think your teens are wearing inappropriate garb?
You are the parent. You're probably the one funding those outfits. You need to realize first and foremost you are the parent. You are allowed to draw boundaries. That includes what the child wears. A lot of girls don't understand there's a message sent with those clothes. They don't have the emotional language or emotional ability to cope with those consequences. They don't realize they may get anything from a whistle to someone who might touch them or grab them or say something inappropriate. Talk to your child about what message that clothing is sending. It's, "I'm protecting you. I want you to be safe. I want you to realize what your clothing might be saying. It may be getting you attention you may not be comfortable with."
In your book, you discuss the dreaded mom jeans. Why should mothers try to dress nicely?
It is a form of self-care. When you take the time to dress the self, you feel better, and you look better. It's very important for a parent who may be frazzled to take five minutes for herself. It's also a modeling behavior. You can tell your child to take care of herself, but then you're not doing it for yourself.
What about dads and their clothes?
The same rules apply for men as they do for women. The father is allowed to dress in a way he feels good, whether or not the child likes that.
What should you do if you're worried about your kids getting tattoos and piercings?
It's the parents' rules. While the children are under that household, they have to follow the rules. Children feel safer when they have an understanding of what the rules are and that someone is in charge — and it's not them. It's often more than just, "I don't want you to get this tattoo." It's, "This is permanent. You may change your mind." Sit down and let your child know your reasoning. The parent can still say no.
What if college-age kids want to get body art?
I always tell parents, "Where the did the teenager get the funds to pay for it?" If they're using the parents' money to pay for the tattoo, are they acting in an adult way? Parents don't have to pay for something they don't support. Obviously if the child is an adult, and they're independent, you can voice your opinion, but the adult's going to do what the adult is going to do.
What about the effect of television stars' wardrobes on families and fashion?
A lot of times younger teenagers look at this and think, 'That's normal, and I should look like that." It can spark conversation. The networks are renting the houses for people. They are given the clothes, or they put them on, and they're able to give them back. Talk to the child about how this is meant for entertainment.
What about the kind of heels that Kim Kardashian wears?
What message is it sending? Is it appropriate for your household? Where does the child get the means to buy those things? It's you.
You think clothes matter – a lot.
Clothing can change how you feel internally. And clothing can send a message to another. We want to make sure the message on our billboard matches the message we want to send. I have many teens that I work with as a counselor and as a clinical psychologist, and they are often really floored when they receive a negative response from men or women or their peers will call them names. They weren't prepared for those responses. They were very uncomfortable that that's what someone might think. You don't want your child to learn after the fact. You want to teach them before they're shamed or interpreted improperly. Your outfits should enhance you, not distract.
What about nail polish and jewelry?
That's an individual family thing. It depends on what the parent thinks is OK. When it's appropriate for their children to wear nail polish or makeup. Nail polish — it's innocuous. It's not as serious as, say, a super- short skirt or 10-inch heels. You can be maybe a little more lenient. It depends on the family. A decision should be made based on what is best for your child.
Who is a good teen role model? Taylor Swift?
Taylor Swift could be a great role model. There are girls who have a talent, and amid the talent, their internal self shows through. They're not using the external to get the attention. They don't need to have the super designer clothes or the super-short skirt. They are enough just who they are with their talents and accomplishments. Those really are the role models for teenage girls. Find a role model whose popularity is from her gift and talents and accomplishments. I also think someone who turns toward service and is doing things for others.
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