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Daughter dressing inappropriately. What do I do?

answered 10:12 AM EST, Fri August 26, 2011
We are a Christian family. My daughter is 14 and we have always had a good relationship. This year she has started to dress very provocatively. It makes me very uncomfortable and we have had a number of discussions about why dressing like a street hooker is not appropriate when going to school or to the mall. The fact that her school will allow this is another story for another day. We have also had a number of very intense arguments over the clothes she chooses to wear. The problem is, no matter how strict I am on the family dress code I cannot watch her 24 hours a day and as soon as she is out of our sight she will just head to her friend’s house and change into what she really wants to wear. What can I do to make her realize that dressing so sexily at her age is not going to get her the right kind of attention and will only lead to bad things?

Jody Hansen Says...

Jody Hansen J. Hansen
MA, LPC, NCC, FAPA

It is very frustrating as parents to know the hazards of some of our children's behaviors and not be able to prevent them no matter how hard we try. The first thing I would ask you is who is buying her these inappropriate clothes? Does she work of have some sort of income to buy what she wants? That part is something you do have control over. However, kids will find a way and she can borrow her friends clothes for the day. Even those kids who go to a parochial school where there are uniforms can dress inappropriately outside of school. The only leverage you have is letting her know why you disapprove and the consequences she will experience if you see her dressing that way. The consequences will have to be meaningful for your daughter such as no cell phone, computer time, etc. You must be able to follow through with that. You still have to realize that she may "break the rules" since her friends are dressing that way. Peer pressure at that age is very difficult combat and the 14 year old brain is still developing the capability to make good judgments. In the end, you may have to learn to "let go" and have her experience the consequences of her decisions. It sounds like you will do everything you can to prevent a problem situation, but ultimately you cannot keep her locked in a cage. In summary, let her know your feelings and why, do not pay for these inappropriate clothes, provide appropriate consequences for her behavior when you are aware and then pray. Some things are out of our control as parents. Stay strong.

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Page last updated Sep 14, 2011

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