Just last week, my son and I faced what has become a symbolic clash of generations: a disagreement over appearance.
He wanted a new haircut. That was fine with me. He also wanted to color his hair. That one, we needed to talk about.
Teens often use their appearance to make a clear statement about who they are. That theme of independence often says very strongly: "I'm not the same as my parents. I'm different. I'm me."
It's important that teens have a chance to establish their own identities, even if they don't yet know who "me" really is. Because this is a time of searching, your daughter's or son's hairstyle and accessories?anything that contributes to the "look of me"?will change frequently and drastically.
But while a teen wants to establish a clear individual identity, being part of the crowd also is important at this stage. Peer pressure and fitting in are key motivators in his appearance. Name brands and particular styles become increasingly important.
Rather than fighting against the force of peer pressure at this stage, work with it. Parents can use an early teen's desire for name-brand?and expensive?clothing to teach important lessons about budgeting and money management. Consider giving your teen a clothing budget, making him responsible for wise management of the funds.
If your teen has income opportunities, offer to pay for a portion of those name-brand running shoes and ask him to pay the difference. Not only will you be teaching lessons about saving money, your teen will have a better understanding of value and worth.1