Once you've identified the issues, you can now intervene and talk with your daughter. Here are some things to consider for those conversations.
1. If her trashy dressing is not too offensive, let it go. Choose your battles and know you don't have to win every one. Losing a battle on mildly trashing dressing might help you to win the war on other more important issues. When my daughter was in middle school, she went through a phase of wanting to wear an entire forearm of silver bangles. It looked ridiculous to me, but I let it go because it didn't really cause any harm, and she soon outgrew it.
2. Read teen magazines with her. If you want to be your daughter's mentor in the arena of dressing, then you'll have to get some knowledge and expertise. She will know that you understand teen fashions and she is more likely to trust you about your opinions.
3. Go shopping with your daughter. Begin early and keep it going so that you have a long history of doing this activity together.
4. Start asking early on what she thinks about your clothes. Establish an attitude of mutual sharing so it won't feel one-sided when you make comments or suggestions about her clothes. Asking her advice about your clothes creates a sense of team in respecting each other's opinions.
5. Use negotiation and compromise as tools when her clothes get too out of line. If you allow her to do something special in return for not wearing her inappropriate outfit, it's a win/win for both of you.
6. Often girls dress for their female friends, not for the boys. The peer pressure among girls is fierce, so they will dress any way they need to in order to be accepted. I recently talked with the mom of a seven-year-old who told me that her daughter chooses her clothes each day depending upon the reaction of other girls in her class. If she gets a compliment on something, she will wear it over and over. If anyone ever makes a negative comment on her outfit, she'll never wear it again.
If the pressure for approval is this great at seven, we can only imagine how much it increases as girls get older. As a parent, it's important to be sensitive and understanding of this pressure and not demand that she wear something that will cause her grief at school.
7. She might be dressing too sexy — insisting on tight shirts and very short skirts. This is the time to have many conversations — a series, if necessary — with her about how her dress is making a statement about who she is. The guy she attracts won't be the one she wants. It will be a guy who thinks he can have anything he wants from her. Tell her she's too good to present herself that way because that's not who she is inside.
8. She may be starting to wear lots of makeup in dark and overdone ways. Rather than forbidding her to wear makeup, tell her that you'd like to help her. If she wants to wear it, then ask her to let you show her how to wear it right.
9. Ask an aunt or another favorite adult to shop with her instead of you. If she's been close to you, she may feel the need to separate and choose dressing as a way to show that independence. She may decide she won't wear what you bought for her simply because you bought it.
It's a delicate balance between being close enough to your daughter so that she feels comfortable talking with you and still giving her the freedom and sense of independence that doesn't make her feel the need to rebel against you. If you've gotten off balance, take this time to talk with her and set it right again.
10. Get Dad involved. Girls love the attention of their daddies and sometimes he can get through in ways that Mom can't.
The better your relationship with your daughter, the easier it will be to get her ear when it comes to her trashy dressing. Start talking with her early, before the sticky topics come up, so she already respects you and knows that you understand and care about her. Even if you don't agree with her, you'll be able to come to some sort of mutual agreement.
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