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’!
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.
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.