Reducing Conflict With Your Teens

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Parenting teens can be a difficult thing.  At a certain age, most teens begin to assert their independence and begin to express themselves and their ideas about life.  When their ideas and opinions differ significantly from those of their parents, conflict can arise.

One major area of conflict between teens and parents can be over clothing.  When my children were very little, dressing them was fairly easy.  I would purchase what I liked, and I would put it on them.  They were very happy with my choices and there was rarely any conflict.

When my children became teens, the reality changed and it changed quickly.  I remember one day coming home with a shirt I’d bought at the store for my child and handing it to her.  Instead of thanking me or at least being honored that I thought of her, she made an awful face and asked me if I really thought she was going to actually wear something like that.  Yes, I actually did.  Silly me.

How do you reduce conflict with your teens over clothing? It’s not easy, but it can be done.  The first step is to acknowledge that your teen is growing and changing.  His choices in clothing will probably  are changing too.  For that matter, they will probably change quite often in the coming years.  It is not uncommon to have your teen announce that she doesn’t like a certain style of clothing only to have her declare that she does indeed like that style a few weeks later.  Resist the urge to remind her of her announcement a few weeks earlier.

It’s also a good idea to not take personally any of the choices that your teen is making and to not become too judgement over minor issues.  I remember when I was growing up how my mom refused to let us wear the color black because she felt it was not a color for “kids to be wearing”.  As soon as I went to college, I bought a lot of black clothes simply because my mom had forbidden me to do so.  Now I look back and think that the whole thing was quite silly!  Probably because of this, I am slow to make a big deal out of minor clothing issues.  Many times, the issue passes if I just don’t make a big deal out of it.

Of course, it should be said that there are times when clothing choices can cross the line.  I don’t allow the kids to wear shirts or clothing with vulgar slogans or saying and a few times my kids have asked to buy or wear such things. 

When it becomes necessary to have a discussion with your teens about their clothing choices, keep your conversation short and simple.  Resist the urge to lecture your teen and ask for their input and ideas to solve the conflict.   If possible, seek to find a compromise.

These things should go a long way to reducing clothing conflicts with your teen.  Good luck!


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