Fads, Fashion, and Frustration

In conversation one exasperated Dad shared his dismay, disappointment and embarrassment all at the same time. His daughter, a high school freshman, decided to wear a tank top to school that left little to the imagination. Dad sent her back to her bedroom three times before the daughter decided to cover up.

“I know what guys think when they see a girl’s bra spilling out,” Dad groans. “My daughter’s underwear is staying where it should be—under!”

The Long and the Short of It

Tom recalls those shorter than short skirts that his daughters used to wear to school. Where in the world did they buy those swatches that passed for clothing? Were those apparel stores legitimate? Even legal? But Tom knew also that every girl in school was wearing them that short. And yes indeed, the length was apparently just within the parameters of an arm’s length, which was the rule of the day. So why were his daughters’ arms so short!

Teenagers want to do their own thing and fit in. (An oxymoron if there ever was one!) Without firm guidance at home, they’re going to follow the trends, fads and fashions as dictated by two tough adversaries—pop media and advertising. As a result, the battles that ensue at home can be fierce.

Dads finally discover that they have to choose those battles carefully. At some point in their teen years, your kids are going to be captivated by Kim, Beyonce, Hilary, Selena and Britney. They will also view Mom and Dad as just plain old, out of step and you gotta be kiddin’!

Values

When it comes to imparting values, it is essential that parents start early. Kids need to know how you feel about certain big issues like honesty, work, loyalty, love, compassion, charity, humility, patience and, yes, morality and sexuality. They learn best by watching you.

What you do is much more important than what you say. Parents need to let their expectations be known, model those expectations and make them stick. As kids get older, they develop their own code of behavior, but the early attention you give to their development increases the chance that their code will be similar to yours. 

Critical Thinking

As kids grow, it is important to help them develop their skills and to critically review situations. Ask questions that encourage them to think about what they have experienced. “How did you feel about that?” “When have you had an experience like that?” “If you were that person, what would you have done?” “How could you have handled that more successfully?”

Helping your son or daughter to analyze and apply information wisely teaches your teen to develop clear thoughts, consider what is heard and read, be inquisitive, develop good thinking skills and understand values, limits and how he or she relates to a larger world.

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By dads2dads

Making Decisions

The teenage years present opportunities that are particularly challenging. How do we dads teach the skills to make good decisions? Regardless of the circumstances, the influences or the feel of the moment, how do we prepare our kids to come up with the “right” choice when they face a challenging situation with a variety of options—and consequences?

The Challenges of Teenhood

Teens are faced with countless new challenges. Who should they befriend? How should they spend their money? Should they get a job? Should they study hard or cheat on the test? They also face difficult issues such as conflict, faith, bravery, humility, morality and sexuality.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes (2017) that over 60%  of students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports (2017)  that 40% of high school students have had sexual intercourse.

Many of our sons and daughters move out after high school and live in a college dorm or apartment. The challenges only become more complex. How do we feel about the possible choices they will face and how do we make sure our kids are prepared to make good decisions? We can’t put a protective shield over them. We have to teach our kids good decision-making by example. We also have to drive home the point that there can be devastating consequences as the result of a bad decision. If we have appropriate, personal examples of the latter to share with them, we should.

Fostering Direction

Know that you play an important role. Regardless of what you think, the actions you take, the attitudes you adopt, and the problem-solving methods you employ serve as a huge example.

Be an example. You’ve acquired a lot of experience and hopefully some wisdom. You can take those occasional opportunities that arise to impart some of that wisdom to your kids. Give them something to emulate.

Always be there. Establish a good relationship by your presence, your willingness to listen, and your respect for your child. 

Be proactive. Step in when it is appropriate. While this can easily be overdone, it is important to know when to gently take an active role and prevent bad decisions from becoming worse.

Rehearse situations. If your son or daughter is going out on a date, listen to his or her feelings and excitement. Together create options for addressing potential concerns.

Teach consequences of decisions. Make sure your teen knows s/he is responsible for individual actions taken or not taken. Actions do have consequences, and teens need to experience the result of theirs.

Don’t overprescribe. Let your teen assume more responsibility as decision making gets better. This shows respect and builds trust.

Cornell University has an excellent report entitled, “Adolescent and Risk: Helping Young People Make Better Choices,” that provides good advice. It is available on the web at

http://www.human.cornell.edu/hd/outreach-extension/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=43495

As the report says, poor choices can have terrible consequences. Make sure you help your child build the capacity to make the best choices now.

By dads2dads