Trendsetting Preteens

Tattoos, piercings, haircuts and colors, makeup, clothing styles—you’re likely to face skirmishes in all of these areas. So how do you deal with the trends and fads that your preteen will inevitably bring home? Here are a few key questions to help you.

  • Is it harmful? Research online or at the library. Give your kids objective facts about possible harmful side effects.
  • Is it permanent? Tell your kids you want them to decide on more permanent things for themselves when they’re older, since fads—or your children—may change by then.
  • Is there a rule or law against it? You don’t always have to be the bad guy. Maybe your kids’ school prohibits the latest trend. Read the handbook and use school rules to your advantage. Social laws that protect minors can help, too.
  • Is it disrespectful or distasteful? Middle schoolers often care about offending others. They may simply need to be reminded that other adults or God might see their actions as disrespectful.

Final Pointers

First, don’t be so heavy-handed with house rules that you push your kids out the door and behind your back.

Second, remember that not all peer pressure is bad. Programmes and groups that encourage abstinence or discourage drug use are often built on commitments to peers, parents and God. Don’t obliterate the effects of peer pressure in case you need it in your arsenal later.

Finally, build your relationship with your kids. A healthy parent-child bond makes your preteens aware of your values and sets the stage for them to come to you with questions about fads and behaviors. Try these “trendy” ideas: date your kids, spend 15 minutes after school talking about their day, eat dinner as a family every night, provide positive encouragement and feedback, celebrate accomplishments and mark key times (13th birthdays or the first day of middle school) with “rites of passage” activities. Being an involved parent is one trend that won’t go out of style.

Copyright August 2001 Focus on the Family