My teenage son is very eccentric in clothes, what do I do?
Adolescence is a key stage of identity construction, so we must try to understand their behavior before creating a discussion.
The adolescence is the time when kids build their own identity . They search for themselves by comparing themselves to other people: peers, adults, or admired celebrities. Adolescents begin to think how they want to be and behave, for that they seek support from others related to them. In this context the urban tribes appear, they are groups of people who are characterized by behaving and thinking differently from the rest of society, it is a “subculture” . Their way of seeing the world is different and they express it with an aesthetic different from the norm.
Now, when an adolescent feels admiration for another person, he expresses it by imitating their way of dressing, behaving and thinking. Moreover, many sociologists defend that when making the decision to enter an urban tribe, the main reason is aesthetics (the way of dressing, hairstyle, the image they give towards others …) and then ideology(the ideas and opinions they have of the world around them, politics, attitude towards life …). Taking the latter into account, we can affirm that we have all belonged to an urban tribe at some point in our adolescence because if we stop to think, surely we were walking with other boys who thought and dressed in a similar way to us, only now the image, the visual part plays a more important role than then.
In general, we should not worry if we suspect that our child may belong to a certain urban tribe. Sometimes we have a preconceived idea about these groups as violent or strange gangs that can be dangerous for our children, but the truth is that they are not usually, at least not the majority, only those that are from the extreme right or left are violent with the who think differently from them.
IS IT JUST A STAGE OF ADOLESCENCE?
As we have already said, adolescents are creating their own identity, looking for themselves and being influenced by people they admire. Therefore, when they want to approach an interesting group, the first step is to imitate their way of dressing, their jargon, their behavior …
There are teenagers who go through a stage and after a while they get bored and little by little they go back to dressing in a normalized way, although this process can take years. Others, however, continue with that style because they really feel that it is part of their identity. It is the magic of adolescence, which allows us to grow and evolve as individuals , to make our own decisions.
HOW TO BEHAVE WITH THEM?
There are things that you should never do regardless of the clothing that your children start to wear because they are counterproductive, since it can trigger their style to be radicalized.
-Don’t try to forbid them to wear those clothes .
If you think that by punishing your son and choosing his clothes you are going to get him to change his style, you are wrong, the only thing you will achieve in most cases is to radicalize his way of dressing because they will take it as a challenge. They will see that you are against their new “me” and that they are the victims. Many will dress more extreme just to contradict and defy parents. Others will go out in “normal” clothes from home and change afterward, out of sight of the parents. In the end it is something that is beyond our control.
Therefore, never criticize their way of dressing. He will ignore you and say that he does not care what you tell him, that he will dress as he pleases. However, deep down if it will affect you even if you do not want to recognize it. Criticizing him will only lower his self-esteem and he will feel misunderstood.
-Find out why .
If you suspect that your child only dresses as a wake-up call from you, do not ever bring up the subject or give it importance, if he really only does it to drive you crazy after a few months he will get tired if you ignore his clothing. If so, maybe you should ask yourself about your behavior with him in the last few months. Have you been with him long enough? Have you been interested in their things? Have you done things together?
If they do it because they really want to belong to a certain urban tribe and not because they may be lacking in affection, you will have to respect their position and try to find out about the group of friends your child is with, so you can check that they are reliable and that they are not. they will get the adolescent in trouble, which is really important.
-Let them express themselves .
As we have said before, adolescents are building their identity and for this they will go through several stages. The best thing you can do is as we have already said before, offer your support for any kind of problems they may have and wait in silence, any kind of pressure towards them to leave that style will be counterproductive and you will only get them to close more in band. Respect their decision.
-Meet your friends and do not comment on the clothes they wear .
Try to get to know them a little more but without it being too obvious. You can suggest to your child that one day he invites them to watch a movie at home, to play on the console, or some other plan of that kind. When they come, don’t be nosy and ask just a couple of subtle questions. It is not about knowing everything about them (it is neither possible nor necessary) but not seeing what feeling they produce to decide if they are a good or bad influence. When they leave, do not mention anything about their appearance or way of dressing.
If there is a friend who seems like a bad influence or you just don’t like him, don’t criticize him in front of your son, unless it is very evident that his company is hurting him. In the end, we cannot control the friendships they have and forbidding them to see a person will only make them want to be in their company more .
On the other hand, you can ask him what he likes most about his friends (or what he least likes) and that he learn by himself to value some personality traits more than others . It is much more effective than telling them that Fulanito is “like this” or “like this” because teenagers and most people really convince themselves of things when they come to that conclusion themselves and not when others tell them.
-Negotiation on clothing .
If the clothing you are wearing draws too much attention, we can try to negotiate but never impose . You can ask him to “fit” a little more in certain situations and give him more freedom in others . For example: “If you wear more traditional clothes to visit your uncles, I promise I won’t tell you anything about it when you go out with your friends.”
Finally, although it is easy to say, you should not obsess over their clothing, it is one of the ways that boys have to express themselves in adolescence. It only remains to be patient and tolerant.
Dr. Tabriella Perivolaris, Sara's mother and fan of fashion, beauty, motherhood, among others, about the female universe. Since 2018 she has been working as a copywriter, always bringing to her articles a little of her experience and experience as a mother and woman.