One night I was watching the TV sitcom ‘Frasier’. Every now and again his teen-age son (who lived with Frasier’s divorced wife in another State) would appear in an episode. In this particular story, Frasier was looking forward to a great week with his son and had planned all sorts of ‘exciting’ activities they could do together, such as museum tours. However, when he opened the front door he got the shock of his life. There stood a totally unrecognizable person dressed in Gothic attire, complete with black spiky hair and ring in his nose!
What would you do in that situation? What would any self-respecting parent do? What did Frasier do? Freak out, of course! To give Frasier his due, he hardly ever saw his son so, in his mind, Hugo was still that little innocent cherub-faced boy of old. Most of us do get warning signs and we should therefore be prepared.
Here is how to get a clue:
* What were you like as a teen? Wind you head back to your teen years. What were you
doing? As you look at old photos you will probably laugh at the ‘silly’ fashions of the day
and wonder what on earth you were thinking! What were your parents’ responses to your
* Check out the trends. You see the teen fashions every day on the street, in magazines
and on TV. You shake your head in amazement at what could possibly be cool about
showing your underpants and holding your sagging pants up at the crotch. Now you know
* Check out their friends. If you see your kids’ friends are doing some shock-able stuff, then
talk to your kids about it. Tell them what your expectations are regarding acceptable
behavior or clothing - and why!
* Prepare yourselves. Talk over the ‘what ifs’ with your spouse or a trusted friend. What will
your response be to given scenarios?
* Decide what really matters and what doesn’t. Make up some guidelines and make sure
you start talking to your kids about them when kids are 8 or 9 years old. Does this trend
violate your family values – e.g. Create unsafe situations by showing off too much body?
Is this action disrespectful?
* Talk to your kids early about peer pressure and fashion trends. Tell them about why you
have rules about some teen activities and the danger involved in each e.g. drinking and
driving, sexual promiscuity, smoking, inappropriate dress, going out at night alone and
mixing with kids who get into trouble.
* Praise the good and set consequences for the unacceptable.
Kids usually do bizarre or ‘out of character' things to get a reaction. Don’t give them one. DON’T REACT. Practice your poker face. Keep your voice low and controlled.
Tell your child for example:
a) Your top is too revealing and you know that boys could think you are enticing them on purpose.
Go and change.
b) The origin of sagging pants is .... Are you wanting to give that message? Go and put a belt on and
pull your pants up. You will not be able to go out until you do.
c) John, why is a policeman bringing you home at 11 p.m? You said you were at a supervised party
with Billy. You smell as if you have been drinking. You know our rules about underage drinking
and you also know our expectations about being truthful. Tomorrow we will discuss the consequences
for your irresponsibility.
Written by Sally Burgess