“You are wearing THAT?”02 Jul 2012
Question: My 14-year old daughter likes experimenting with her clothing styles. Her dad and I are not comfortable with the tight clothes and very short shorts that she chooses. How do we let her know that she can be attractive without showing too much skin?
Our Expert Says:
Your discomfort about your teenage daughter’s choice of clothing probably stems from certain principles or values that both you and your spouse adhere to. Be clear if this is really an issue of complying to your dressing standard or helping her to define her own ‘attractiveness’. What is ‘too much skin’? What is your family’s standard of dressing modestly? Is your daughter aware of these values right from the start?
If it is about your intolerance of showing too much skin, you and your husband will need to reflect if either of you had inadvertently encouraged her to make these choices by not setting the parameters of tolerance at the very beginning.
At 14 years old, your daughter is likely to be searching for an identity that she can call her own. Usually, there are influencing factors that lead her to perceive a certain image of herself. These factors could be her peers, her celebrity idols, or someone she admires and wants to emulate.
At this stage, being openly resistant to her choice of clothing will likely result in her doing the opposite of what you want, merely as her way of asserting her independence. For a start, make your values clear to her. You can still set certain rules about making clothing purchases as long as you are paying for them. If she has already been given the opportunity to make undesirable purchases in the past and insists on certain clothing choices, then she will have to make these purchases from her own pocket.
Get to know her sense of style and understand what it represents. Expose her to other fashion styles that you approve of and enlist the help of people who can influence her. Never underestimate the influence that fathers have over daughters. Engage your spouse to talk to your teenager about his expectations and how her dress choice will affect how the opposite sex perceive her.
Mr. Mohd Ali Mahmood is a Senior Director for PPIS Social Services, Training and Consultancy. Despite overseeing the operations of several of the organisation’s social service centres, he still finds time to counsel parents and couples with marital issues.
Mr. Mohd Ali is the 2009 winner of the President’s Outstanding Social Worker Award. He is a father of a 17 year old son and a 14 year old daughter.