By Jodie Lynn
My 13-year-old just started a new middle school. All of a sudden, he wants to buy and wear all black. His dad doesn't want him to do so mainly because it looks like a type of gang-related stigma. However, it's the only thing he has ever asked to do. What should we consider in either allowing this or not?
ANSWER FROM READER:
Wearing all black has always been seen as gang-related. It is not. When I was in middle school, I made new friends from a different school district. They had been wearing all black since fifth grade. I just wanted to do something different. Plus, not having to choose what to wear every morning actually helped with my stress level. My parents also balked, at least in the beginning. Our deal was if my grades went down, I would have to go back to dressing normally. I kept my word and my parents kept their end of the bargain, so it all worked out. However, every day I wore black, my dad griped. Even today, as a successful young woman, he shudders should I wear a completely black outfit. - F. F. in Colorado Springs, CO
Apparently, there can be several reasons why kids go through stretching their imagination in order to either be accepted or build some independence, especially in a new middle school or high school. If it is the very first time your son has wanted to go off the beaten path, and even asked permission to do so, then why not give it a shot. You can always get to know the other kids and their parents. Ask how it got started, what is the purpose of it and how the kids are doing in school. If his behavior should change more than is normal for most teenagers, set up some guidelines and go from there. For example, watch for failing grades, an argumentative attitude and emotional ups and downs. Otherwise, it appears harmless at this time. Keep in touch with his teachers as well. Talk with his dad and ask that he not make any detrimental remarks, at least when your son is within earshot. Take it one day at a time.
CAN YOU HELP?
What is a good way to teach my six-year-old daughter that regardless of what her dad buys her, she cannot have everything she asks from me. We are divorced and he is playing the poor little "no one loves me" ex-husband scenario. He says that buying her whatever she wants is his way of trying to be sure that she knows he loves her. I am a single mom who does not want a spoiled little diva on my hands.
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