Dear Ilana and Jess: It breaks my heart, but my wife and I simply can’t afford the clothes our kids want. We have two sons who are always after the newest, top-of-the-line, sneakers, and two daughters who are glued to the Kardashians’ Instagram accounts. Our kids are good kids, and their expectations are realistic. We are grateful to have respectful children, who understand what’s important. But, we also know that there’s pressure at school to look and dress a certain way. We don’t want our kids to succumb, but we do want them to express themselves. How can we help them find clothes that make them feel good, without going bankrupt? — David
Dear David: First, we want to applaud you and your wife; you seem to be treading the line between indulgence and temperance very carefully. As you (rightly) pointed out, gratitude is the priority. When your kids are contending with the pressure to conform, it can be difficult to sort what’s helpful from what’s hurtful. You want to treat your kids, but you don’t want to encourage competition or materialism. You want them to know that self-expression is a good thing, but you don’t want them to believe there is a “right” way to look and dress. To help you send the right message, reward your deserving kids, and keep your bank account happy, we have several recommendations.
The first is good, old-fashioned allowance. Allowance is a family staple because it works on many levels. For one, allowance instills the value of hard work. Speak with your wife to determine a reasonable dollar amount each of the kids can earn, per week. In addition, develop clear-cut rules about: how much the children can save and whether they are allowed to pool their money. Once you’ve established the boundaries, communicate them to your children. When your kids work for their own money, they become active in reaching their goals. They’ll also have to decide how they’d like to spend the money they earn. In short, you’re teaching them to make judicious, financial decisions, in an age-appropriate way. You’re also giving your kids the opportunity to treat themselves, without entitling them.
Help your kids use clothing to develop their personal style. Lots of parents fear that focusing too much on clothing can encourage self-consciousness and superficiality. Teach your kids that their clothing doesn’t define who they are. Instead, it’s something they can use to express themselves. Sit down with your sons and daughters and ask them to lay out their favorite outfit. Once they’ve picked it, ask them: What do you like the most about this outfit? What words describe how you feel when you’re wearing this outfit? What do you think this outfit says about your unique personality? Use your kids’ responses to help them find affordable clothes that achieve the same, creative goals.
Have the kids use social media to show you celebrity outfits they like, then help them find affordable alternatives. For example, if one of your daughters loves an outfit that Taylor Swift wore, Google search, “get Taylor Swift’s floral outfit for less.” Let’s say you find out that Taylor’s actual outfit is from Free People. Shop in stores that sell less expensive clothing, in a similar vein. If you need help locating them, search, “cheaper stores like Free People.” You can also try department stores that sell discounted, designer items, like Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, and Century 21.
Most importantly, remind your kids that above all else, it is the way they choose to behave -- not what they choose to wear -- that shapes their lives.
Say This: “I want to help you create your own, unique style. This will be a good thing, but we have to do it in an affordable way. Let’s pick your favorite outfit that you already own, and you can tell me what you like the most about it. We can find similar pieces that make you feel equally as confident. Maybe we’ll go back to the store where you got it, and if their selection matches your style, we’ll stick with it! You can also show me one of your favorite outfits that _____ wears. Then, we are going to Google search, ‘get _____’s look for less.’ That’s how we will go about finding an affordable alternative.”
Not That: “It doesn’t matter what you wear! Don’t worry about it.”
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
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