As much as you would like to think that styles have changed since you were a kid, the truth is that they haven’t. And just like you had to have halter-tops, ascots and tight jeans – your teen is trying to follow the fashion trend as best they can. Let’s assume that you have already tried the shopping together situation where you and your teen visits their favorite store only for you to have a heart attack by both the cost and look of the clothes they pick out. “You cannot wear THAT to school,” you say. “But mom EVERYONE is wearing these!” “Well, I am NOT going to pay that much money for a pair of jeans with holes in them!” Followed of course by the eye rolls of your teen, the folded arms, the tear stained red faced that indicates just how uncool you are. Next step is considering giving your teenager a clothing allowance. Should you do it?
There are some pros to giving your teen a clothing allowance of their own. For one thing given $200 bucks with the job of finding clothes for a week’s worth of school will definitely teach your teen the meaning of money. They will get to see first hand that $200 doesn’t go too far, especially when they are shopping at Abercrombie for tattered jeans. Should they blow their entire clothing allowance on 2 or 3 items, you have to be the bad guy in order to teach them a lesson. Amazing how good Wal-Mart may start to look once they encounter this experience. And no teen wants to show up at school without enough clothes to ensure they don’t repeat an outfit in a week’s time.
Another bonus to giving your teen the reins to their clothing purchases is that it can eliminate some of that awkwardness normally felt by teens and parents when they shop together. And yes, like every parent before you – it hurts your feelings to know that your child is embarrassed of you. However, it means that your teen is developing normally and you should be able to over look it for a while and hide the tears. It also helps teens to develop their own sense of style (yes….frustrating) and begin figuring out how to best dress themselves for public appearances. Will you like what you see? Probably not, but as long as the clothes fit in with the dress code at their school – you should remain open. Think back to some of your awkward ensembles and wrinkled clothes that made your own mother want to cringe. Your best hope is that they will develop taste as they age.
One more benefit is that your child may learn how to shop smart. They may begin utilizing the tools of bargain hunting and coupon clipping. Hey, they might even learn to save for what they want. If you give your child a clothing allowance to cover the bare essentials and tell them they have to work or do chores for more…they likely will. Chances are they will start looking for sales, perhaps trading clothes with friends or visiting some high-end thrift shops in order to get the most for their money. And this gift will continue to give throughout life.
So…the cons! Of course, there are cons. You will end up buying them things they really need like underwear, shoes and bras because they won’t want to spend their money on those every day items. You might end up with some unexpected purchases that go against the grain of your morality, which means that they will have to be taken back and exchanged – causing an argument. Oh well. Stick to your guns and don’t let your child dress like a hoodlum. You will also feel anxious about them growing up and making decisions on their own. The thing is that if you don’t ever allow your teen to make decisions in their life, to take chances or risks – they won’t ever learn to make good decisions, which is a really bad thing. Try your best to be proud of them even if they chose items and spent money in ways that you didn’t think were wise. Most importantly, giving them a clothing allowance – means setting the amount and sticking to it. If you ultimately give them more and more, you aren’t teaching your teen much of a lesson.
The next question is should you allow your teen to shop alone. Well, today in an overwhelming amount of states in the United States there are laws in place which prohibit kids under the age of 18 from being unescorted in malls and shopping centers. Gone are the days of dropping your teen off at the mall for some unattended shopping, lunch and a movie with friends. So before you drop your teen off, check with the mall authority. These new laws are actually in place to protect you and your teen from trouble and are a good thing. There are also curfews for teens in most states. This doesn’t mean that you should embarrass your teen and be caught inside the store with them rummaging through jeans or sweatshirts. Instead, stay a few feet away so that a schoolmate or friend won’t report at school that they were caught shopping with their mom or dad.
Another tidbit of advice is to remember that the more you dislike something your teen chooses the more they will feel determined to buy or wear it. When they make a bad purchase with your money, smile, shrug and ignore the obvious wardrobe malfunctions it will cause. As long as they will not be flashing people or dressed promiscuously, let them learn to live with their own mistakes. The longevity of the lesson will far outweigh any you could teach them. Go ahead, be brave, and start teaching your teen some real life lessons that revolve around money, shopping and keeping up appearances. While trying at first, it is definitely worth pursuing.