Q. My 13 year old daughter is already worrying about wearing the "right" or "in" clothes. She is refusing to wear the play shoes I bought her because they don't have a particular brand name on them. She wants a pair of very expensive jeans (with the brand name). Ordinarily she is easy to live with. Over this issue she seems determined and we are deadlocked. As a single parent I can't afford the fancy brands and it bothers me that she can't see that the name is unimportant. I don’t understand why this is so important to her. How should I handle this?
A. Children and teenagers from about 5th grade on often worry about "fitting in" with their crowd. Unfortunately, for many young people appearances are used to judge worth. This is because they are just beginning to figure out their own identities apart from their parents.
They are also beginning to experience many changes in their bodies and emotions as they physically mature. These changes are exciting but also scary. To provide some security, preteens and teens cluster in peer groups and the group does demand or value certain conformity in dress. In other words, your daughter has no doubt discovered that her group, or the group to which she aspires, wears the brand shoe or jean in question. Feeling socially inept due to the many changes going on within her, the clothes do assist her confidence.
Unfortunately, the manufacturers have also discovered this and they manipulate very expensive tastes among young people. And you are right; there is no reason for it. Often a $30.00 pair of shoes will wear just as well as the $80.00 pair. The same is true for jeans.
So, what do you do about it? If you say a flat no you will have a dejected child and she may make your life miserable. A power struggle at this age is seldom worth the battle. If you say yes, you will be going against your own beliefs and your own budget. When we "give-in" to our children we resent it, they sense this and feel guilty. We may also lose respect in their eyes.
The third alternative is best, though often over looked. Look for a unique solution that will satisfy you both. For example, this may be a good time to give your daughter a clothing allowance and let her spend it as she wishes. If she chooses the expensive items she will learn the consequences and have fewer clothes.
Another alternative would be to give her the amount of money you would normally spend on the item and let her put her own money with this to buy the item she wants. She may need to baby sit for a neighbor in order to afford these things. She will learn the value of money quickly once she starts earning and spending her own dollars.
Perhaps you can think of some other unique solutions that will satisfy both of you.
Intelligent people are always open to new ideas. In fact, they look for them. Proverbs NLT