Kelsey was excited. She and mom were going shopping–her favorite thing to do. She couldn’t wait to buy some new outfits for school. She knew exactly what she wanted too. She hurried to the wrack of blouses and began making her choices. Mom made her way to the trousers, thinking she could help speed things up by selecting a few pair. Returning to her daughter, she noticed that she had several blouses in hand. “Let’s find a dressing room and start the fashion show,” mom commented good naturedly. In the dressing room, Kelsey quickly slipped off her t-shirt and tried on a blouse. Mom’s smile froze on her face and she gasped as she saw her daughter’s bare midriff and plunging neckline. To make matters worse, the blouse had holes slashed across the bodice and back, exposing even more skin. What had happened? Last she knew, Kelsey was wearing color coordinated outfits. Shopping had been fun.
In an aisle across the store, another mother was engaged in a similar situation with her son. The little boy who used to be happy with jeans and a colorful shirt was now perusing wracks of black t’s flaunting skulls and crossbones. What had happened? Often parents of children aged 11-16 find themselves face-to-face with a child they never knew existed. It is easy to panic in such a situation and jump to the conclusion that your child has changed or disappeared altogether. Such is not the case. Children of this age are experimenting with fitting-in, thus peer approval means a lot. Often we are able to dismiss the crazy fashions of our own adolescence with a smile and wave of our hand, as we argue that today the styles are so much worse. Approaching these situations with humor and flexibility allows some of your child’s airy rebellion to manifest rather harmlessly. If we become too rigid when it comes to our child’s attire of choice, then we risk their rebellion moving underground, on