DEAR HARRIETTE: I am the parent who is proud that my children follow my directions and make smart choices, at least most of the time. So what I am now seeing is a bit disturbing. In this ice-cold weather, I told my teenage daughter to add a sweater layer to her clothing so that she would be warm enough when she went to school. Pretty direct, right? I reminded her three times because I know that she doesn’t think about outerwear the way that adults do.
As my daughter was walking out the door to go to school, I asked to see the sweater layer. She rushed to her room for a moment, zipping up her coat. I asked again to see the sweater. She then pulled out a wrinkly sweatshirt from her jacket that was clearly not on her body. I made her put it on and then asked why she thought it was OK to lie to me and not do what she was told. She shrugged. This disturbs me on so many levels. What can I do to get her to follow such a basic direction? -- Teenage Defiance
DEAR TEENAGE DEFIANCE: This is why you check and double-check your teenager’s behavior. What she says may not be what she has done. In your daughter’s case, she needs to know that if she lies to you again, she gets a privilege taken away. That could be that she has to come home directly after school without hanging out with friends, or when she’s at home, you restrict her mobile devices.
By losing what she values most, she may start to get the message that you mean business. You can also continue to remind her why you make the requirements that you do. Wearing warm clothes in the winter is a basic function of being a healthy human being. That goes for cool teenagers, too!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)