How do, and how should parents react when their daughters, who are barely into their teens, start wearing increasingly revealing clothing?
The very nature of this question reveals to me an abdication of parental responsibility. Where did they get the revealing clothing in the first place? If you don’t want your young daughter dressing in a particular way, then exert some parental control and don’t buy her the clothing.
Your job is not to be your child’s friend; it’s to be their parent. This is a sacred responsibility: Your need to give them the tools and teach them lessons they need to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Your children don’t need to like you, but they must respect you (which is not the same thing as fearing you).
When my youngest son was about 12, he talked me into taking him and a buddy to a big outdoor concert in Orlando called Earthday Birthday. Local radio stations were billing it as a family event. I was appalled when we got there. The music was terrible, everything was wildly overpriced, drugs were everywhere and there were girls just a little older than my son walking around in not much of anything, and in some cases, nothing but body paint. I had a serious chat with my son and his friend and we left a short time later. The environment was simply inappropriate. We had a long discussion - meaning I let the kids talk and I listened — about the issues on the way back.
I remember going to my first parent-teacher night when my youngest was in middle school. I was appalled at the way the 12 & 13-year-old girls in the hallways behaved. Presumably they were there with their parents, but some of them were wearing outfits that were entirely inappropriate for children — see-through blouses, incredibly short shorts or dresses, bare midriffs, etc. And the clothing matched the behavior of some of them. I was stunned when a couple of the girls, who obviously liked my son, came over and began flirting with me and hanging on me.
I later had a conversation with my son’s science teacher about the incident, and he just shook his head and said the problem was worse than I knew.
I’m not by any stretch a prude (read some of my other posts), and I believe that healthy and satisfying sexual experiences are one of the keys to a fulfilling life. But I also believe that the sexualization of children is abhorrent — and unfortunately, a fact of life. But kids behave this way because their parents let them.
Learn to talk to you children, not at them.
Teach them to actually think and not just mouth what they hear others saying.
Raise them in a home where their voices can be heard.
Lay down appropriate boundaries, explain the reasons for them, and enforce them.
Lead them by example. One of the worst things that your child can think about you is that you’re a hypocrite.
Talk to them candidly about booze and drugs. And sex.
Touch your kids (in a good way). Kids need encouragement and reassurance and hugs work wonders.
Don’t smother them. Raise them in an atmosphere where they can make their own decisions and must accept the consequences.
Welcome you kids’ friends into your home as a safe haven, but make it clear they have to follow your rules when they are there.
If you buy your kid a phone, know what they are doing with it.
And if you don’t like the way they dress, start by blaming the person in the mirror.