Middle School Makeover Part 8: Fashion, Trouble, and Cell Phones
Scenario #7: Camis, Tight Jeans, and Booty Shorts, Oh My!
Michelle starts out this section with an inquiry from a mother wondering how to handle her daughter heading off to school in a strange, unflattering outfit. She responds to this with the same idea she has been coaching us with throughout the book. This is your child’s time to grow as a person independent of you and part of that includes developing their own individual (and sometimes cringe-worthy) sense of fashion. I keep having mental flashbacks of horrible middle school outfits I obsessed over while I am writing this.
While she recommends letting your child explore this way, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t h
ave rules or guidelines about what is appropriate for different social situations. She suggests making sort of categories for various levels of clothing (ex: DEFCON 3 clothes for playing outside or getting potentially ruined, DEFCON 1 clothes for important family occasions or weddings and the like).
It is also important to go over guidelines and expectations for modesty, BEFORE you start shopping. Such limits may include: no offensive language, no skirts/ shorts that reveal too much when you bend over, no pants that sit really low, no shirts that reveal too much if you bend over, etc. These will be different for each family but it is important to determine what your expectations are before it becomes a problem to avoid unnecessary conflict.
Scenario #8: Your “Sneaking” Suspicions
Here we dive into what to do when your kid goes behind your back and does something you deliberately told them not to, be it borrowed something you did not agree to lend, watch a forbidden film, or something along those lines. While you may want to go full force disciplinarian (a normal reaction, Michelle tells us!) it is important to take a deep breath and not immediately react. A big reaction will draw attention away from what he/she did wrong and could take away from a valuable learning opportunity.
Then make sure you have proof a crime was committed. You don’t want to punish based on a hunch. Once you have evidence try to form a consequence that relates to the problem. Make sure your child understands the root of the infraction. For instance, if it has hindered your trust make sure they understand that as the reason you are making sure they don’t go out with friends for the week. This way it is clear why they are being punished.
It is normal for teens to keep things from their parents and sneak around. Be sure to be observant if there are underlying reasons for their lying to you as well. The example given in the book is that maybe your teen daughter borrows your shirt because she’s embarrassed about how her clothes fit her or is being teased about the brand she wears. It is vital to look for these clues to get to the bottom of misbehavior and open up a dialogue about issues with which she may need help.
Scenario #9: Can You Hear Me Now?
In this scenario Michelle discusses at what age it is appropriate to give your child a cell phone. Before divulging a general number answer there are two things she believes are necessary to consider: maturity and need. Is your child responsible enough to have a phone or will they lose it right away and often? Will they follow the rules that come with a phone? Then, is it purely a social tool, or could it be beneficial to both of you? Will he use it to call after sports practice? Does your child enter the house alone after school? I got my first cell phone when I was fourteen and a half, which happened to be the exact time I got my driver’s permit. Even if you fear your child entering a technological world, you have to be aware of the benefits it can yield for you (Michelle mentions several on page 129). It is recommended though that you purchase the phone that way it is technically your property and therefore yours to police or take away as necessary.
There are four suggested rules Michelle offers for new cell phone holders, but they may not suit all of your needs, don’t be afraid to add or amend as needed:
1.) If there is a password on the phone, it must be known to you.
2.) You have the right to look through texts as you see fit.
3.) Their phone cannot be in their room past 8pm.
4.) Since this is new to both of you, you may change the rules as you see fit.
Questions for Discussion:
What was one of your outrageous fashion phases from your middle school days? How long did it take you to grow out of it?
Have you had to handle issues of clothing modesty? How did you and did it work?
What punishments have you had to issue for sneaking behind your back and breaking rules? Was your child resistant or do you think they learned from it?