Wednesday, August 24, 2016

how to get your teenager to wear dresses

One of my co-workers has been sharing her heartbreaking story of her middle school daughter who has been expressing great interest in becoming a boy.  She bought books and has been obsessed with the idea of being a transgender.  I try to calm her down with thoughts that this is just a phase and that she should try not to react to her daughter's ideas, no matter how ridiculous they are.  Although, she should listen or at least have her daughter understand that she is listening to her.  Also, I suggested that she makes the situation less uncomfortable by giving the child a chance to think it through.  Perhaps, she can say that until she finished high school or turns 18, they will not push for the idea of being transgender.  That would allow her some time to grow up and gain maturity, without having felt that she's being pushed aside or not being taken seriously.

I started reading other blogs and Psychology Today articles on how to deal with this identity crisis or so-called middle school / puberty stage.  I have a 3 year old daughter and one day I might end up in the same situation.  There are a lot of studies that link daughter's success to their relationship with their father.  Our daughters are born with innate instincts and personality (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, psychological) of a female.  However, the other half of their development comes from their father - the male figure.  They have the authoritarian, disciplinarian, strong, and masculine influence that they can teach their daughters by building a healthy relationship with them.  There is so much more to it and watching successful, happy women talk about their fathers are great proof that it's really important to have a good father-daughter relationship.

My recent find in encouraging daughters to act more or dress up more like girls is to be a positive model for them.  If they see their mother as a pleasant person who have good relationship with other people, then they would want to be like her.  When your daughter has an idea that sounds like bad news, it's important that you don't react negatively.  Instead, just listen and say "let's give that idea some time and we'll talk about it more soon."  Don't tell them "No. That's awful!" etc.

You can slowly encourage their interest in trying out dresses by introducing them to different styles and patterns.  There are loud dresses and there are minimalist ones.  There are modern and edgy and there are simple and casual ones.  Take your daughter window shopping and have her help you pick a dress for you.  Tell her you need to start wearing dress at work or for a special occasion.
CAUTION: while shopping for your dress, NEVER ask your daughter to try on a dress or say that she should wear a dress.  This step is for her to "discover" herself and her preferences in patterns.  Kids are smart.  If she gets any hint that you're doing this to trick her into wearing a dress, she will shut down completely and not care.  She will randomly point dresses without even looking at it.  It might basically be the end of it.

While looking at dresses, pay attention to the colors and patterns and styles that are appealing to her and what she likes on you.  Maybe she just likes it plain - black, gray, and white.  Maybe she likes it straight, no figure or curves.  Maybe she doesn't like silky ones and prefer cotton dresses.  Try her picks and have her decide on what to get - whether or not you like it.  Remember, this experience is for her and not for you.  You can just get one dress just to get the ball rolling.  Also, pay attention to the ones that she's okay with and ones that she completely hates.  When you get your next dress or next time you go shopping, try to focus on those "okay" styles & patterns.  Basically, you want to surround her with dress styles and patterns that are appealing to her by having you wear couple of different dresses a week, in the beginning.  Then, experiment with mix-and-matching styles and dresses and skirts later on, say four days a week.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there might be other underlying issues that's making your daughter not want to be a girl.  Maybe she's insecure of her body or she may have self-esteem problems.  Other kids probably made fun of her in a dress and the experience made her feel terrible.  Try to have conversations with her by asking simple questions and letting her talk about it.  Ask her how dresses make her feel or what is it about dresses that she doesn't like.  But, again, do not talk about her and dresses when you're out shopping for your dress :)

Throughout this experience, have fun!  Fun will add into the success of your goal and make that quality time spent with your daughter more wonderful and memorable.  After some time and your daughter just won't wear a dress, then just accept and love her for who she is and be thankful that you got to know her more.

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