by Jennifer Shakeel
It is that time of the year again. Everyone is getting ready for school. The schedules are being sent out, the school supply lists and yes, the school clothes. If your child/children are anything like mine then every season means a new persona. Goodbye to the country western cowgirl look, and the nicely dressed young man… we now have the rocker children that is why I had to buy a Thredup rescue box to fulfill their clothing requirements.
This of course has brought up a few issues over wardrobe items. So in an effort to not stifle their need to be individuals, I came up with a few compromises. I am not going to tell you that they will all work with you and your children, but this is what is working in our house… and so far everyone seems to be happier than they were a week ago.
Tip One: Breathe
There are multiple times in our children’s lives that they make a move towards independence. The first time they want to tie their own shoes, pick out their own clothes… cut their food themselves. We all crumble inside the very first time we hear, “I can do it myself.” Breathe. Changing their persona on the outside is another one of those times when they want to prove they can do it themselves. Just breathe, we all go through phases.
Tip Two: Understand Who Your Child Is and Talk to Them
Our oldest is heavy into the rocker phase. She got to go spend part of the summer with some friends in a big city. Naturally she picked up a few things from those friends… such as attitude and dressing habits. The attitude we quickly put in check, but the style of clothes… well, is just not acceptable in our house. With my husband at his wits end over the clothing and me cringing every time our daughter came out of her room, we had to draw a line, and have a little talk.
I understand where she is at in life. I understand the need to be your own person and wanting to emulate someone you are close to. However, I don’t believe that almost 15 year girls need to show off everything they have to be “in style,” and that is what we needed to explain to our daughter. You can do the whole rocker look without revealing every curve you have.
Tip Three: Compromise
Yes, compromise is a beautiful thing. The deal we made with our children this year is that when we go school clothes shopping, they have to try everything on and show us… and it has to get our approval on the fact that it fits appropriately and is flattering. We don’t necessarily have to like the clothes, and they have the right to negotiate items that we said no to, but they are going to have to really give an excellent argument.
We still get the look from our son, but our daughter seems to understand. She got clothes that she is happy with, we shopped in a way that she thinks she picked out most of the clothes, and they look really good on her. Our son decided to go with “rocker” because “gangsta” was not happening.
Tip Four: Teach them to be the Beacon
My husband made a very good point; we need to teach our children to be the leader not the follower. He sat and talked to our oldest the other day and explained to her that she needed to be the one that her friends turn to for advice. She needs to be seen as the example of how to be, the trendsetter. Be happy with who she is as a person and live to be that person… don’t waste time trying to be someone else… because you are exceptional.
We know that peer pressure can be tough. That our children want to fit in, to be a part of a group, in our house though we tend to encourage them to create their own group.
Tip Five: Understand that it is Only Clothing
As long as your children are not dressing in chainmail or clothes that you would see on a working girl as she is being thrown into a squad car… they are only clothes. If need be, have a few items that they know are to be worn when they go out in public with you. Don’t make those items so “not them” that they resent you for it. Find the happy medium, the skull and cross bones shirt under cheap leather vests for men with black jeans.
Tip Six: Make it a Day about Them
I recommend going school clothes shopping with your kids. I have friends that once their child reaches a certain age, they just give them the credit card and tell them to go. Not here, if you do that, then don’t complain about what they come home with.
Make it a day of bonding. If you have more than one child, try to give them each a day where you grab lunch and do some shopping and hanging out. Make it fun for both of you. Even if it means that you put your hair up in a pony tail, throw on the flops, and cut off jeans and a t-shirt… anything that won’t embarrass them. Be cool with your kid.
Tip Seven: Know Where to Go
Regardless of your budget for school clothes shopping, there are stores that are really designed to fit different personas. The rocker chics (and guys) are going to do great at places like “Hot Topic,” “Rue 21,” even “JC Penney’s.”
The well dressed will prefer Elder Berman, Macy’s and Gap. The funky youngsters have Aeropastle, Hollister, PacSun and others. There are also the superstores. Target seems to be very retro right now; I would say late 60’s early 70’s. WalMart seems to be a happy medium; they have something for most styles. There is also Meijer; I am not sure what to call the styles they have there. The point is that if your child wants to go Goth… Gap isn’t going to be the place to shop.
School clothes shopping can be a lot of fun, if you go into it with the right attitude.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience. As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!
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