Clothes Minded Parenting
By Jim Burns, Ph.D.
No teen wants to “stand-out” like a sore thumb when it comes to fashion. Take a look around. Even kids whose clothing appears to be on the fringes of current fashion tend to hang out with other kids who dress similarly. Sure, some kids want to be “different”. But, they usually want to be “different” with a group of friends who are like them in being “different”! For teenagers, clothing is more than just something to wear. Clothing choices usually go hand in hand with an adolescent’s pursuit of identity formation.
A look at today’s adolescent fashions, may well strike fear into the heart of parents. How can parents help their kids make wise fashion decisions and build their self-image at the same time? Here are some ideas that can help…
* Discuss the fashion “sex-connection” with your teenager. Ask your teenagers whether or not they believe that some types of clothes really promote an unhealthy sexuality. As a resource, print out and discuss the article “The Clothes Crisis” by Dannah Gresh, which appeared in the magazine, Christian Parenting Today, Winter, 2002. It is available on the Internet.
* Discuss the concept of “modesty” with your teenager. What is “modesty”? Is modesty important? Why or why not? Are their times when an item of clothing can be appropriate while at other times inappropriate? How do you know the difference? As a resource, print out and discuss the article “Ponderings on the Issue of Modesty” by Sandi Luce, which appears on the Parenting Teenagers website.
* Discuss with your teenager the concept of “clothes as statements.” Learn from your teenager about the various fashion statements today’s adolescents are making. Ask, “What do you think certain styles say about people? Ask, what do you think your clothes say about you?” Ask, “Are you looking to make the statement your clothes make?”
* Discuss relevant Biblical principles with your teenager. For example, 1 Peter 3:3-4 addresses how external looks are not as important as internal character. 1 Corinthians 10:31 addresses how for the Christian whatever we do is to be done for God’s glory.
* If you are struggling to cope with your teenager’s fashion and what it all means, read the article, “Coping with Teens’ Extreme Fashion Statements” by Carelton Kendrick and Laura Meehan on the Family Education Network website.
“Clothes Minded Parenting.” By Jim Burns, Ph.D.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”