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Discussing appropriate clothing

Question
My 16-year-old is overweight and is finally starting to attend school dances. She makes her own decisions about clothing, but ends up wearing outfits that are grossly inappropriate given her size. How can I talk with her about this without hurting her self-concept?

Answer
Honesty, if delivered in a kind and gentle manner at the right time, always trumps lying simply to make someone feel good.    Our job as parents is to teach our kids how to make good decisions. I’m certain your daughter is acutely aware of her weight issues. Take her shopping and help her understand how to choose clothing styles that are appropriate for her body type. Don’t be reluctant to acknowledge your daughter’s weight problems and offer her advice how to best select clothing for her size.
Timing is everything with teens. This is not the type of discussion you have before a school dance, or in front of her siblings or father. You may temporarily hurt her feelings with this conversation, but you’ll teach her an important lesson that love doesn’t mean just saying insincere things to make people feel good.

Question
Do you think viewing “Dance Moms” is appropriate for a ten-year-old girl?  It’s real popular with my kid and her friends, but I think the program is disgusting and want to stop them from watching this at my house.

Answer
If you feel the program is offensive to your values, you have every right to prohibit your daughter from watching the show. However, you have a responsibility to clearly and carefully explain the reasoning behind your decision. Your actions should be based upon your values and parenting style, not upon the judgment of any psychologist on the wishes of your daughter.

Here’s another alternative. Watch the show with your daughter and use the incidents in the program as a way to provoke discussion about a wide range of issues that really matter to preteens.

Question
Our daughter is gifted but her Kindergarten teacher refuses to offer her any special programs. I’m afraid she will get bored in school and never develop any drive to excel. What can I do to make up for the teacher’s incompetence?

Answer
The first thing you need to do is lighten up and stay focused on what really matters at your daughter’s age. Your attention should primarily be on your child’s character development rather than her academic skills or demonizing her teacher.
Here’s my list of the seven traits or habits that seem most related to living a meaningful and successful life—integrity, self-control, resiliency, persistence, problem solving, communication and emotional intelligence. I’d suggest you encourage a positive attitude toward learning and healthy relationships with other kids and adults.  That’s the foundation she really needs to live a life that matters.

 

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