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I Did the Unthinkable to Discipline My Teenage Daughter

“Front View Of Happy Young Woman” by imagery majestic via digital

I disagree with the caption on this photo (about as much as I disagreed with my teenager’s attire recently). I don't think that this girl looks ‘happy’, nor did my child when I showed up at her school.

My middle schooler is fun.
She is a middle child.
She likes to be different and stylish.
She sometimes likes to take it to levels that I don’t agree with (and ones I can’t imagine too many others agreeing with either).

And she knows it.


Because we’ve discussed these things before:
Classy vs. Trashy
Self respect vs. Low self esteem
The need for attention

She is outgoing, spunky, smart and has a ton of friends.
She already has plenty of attention.
She doesn't need more (especially this way).

So, when she snuck out of the house the other morning with a pair of leggings on, and a shirt shorter than acceptable (too short to cover her lower half completely), I made a decision...

I went to her school with two pairs of jeans.
When I found her in her morning extracurricular group, I called her to the hall.
I held out both pairs for her:
 "Which ones do you want?"
She picked the ones on the right.
Then I sent her to the bathroom to change.

We’ve been through this once before (with mini-skirts).

I used to wear both in high school, but raised by my father, the easy going type on most things, especially when it came to my hair and fashion because, 'he didn’t care because he didn’t have to wear it’. 

But I am not my father.

And, just because leggings aren’t on the ‘forbidden-wear list at school’ I still don’t want my daughter wearing them without something over them.

How did this all end?

Not as you would have expected:
A bashful look down at her leggings, a few tiny tears, several huge hugs, an apology to Mom, a quiet talk, and a super awesome compliment on how awesome (better) she looked in jeans over leggings.

I never would have thought I’d be the one to say this, because I was a yeller early in my parenting life but a parent doesn’t have to be harsh or make a scene to get their point across.

-She was able to go through her day not tugging on her shirt uncomfortable with her choice
(when I arrived that’s what I saw her doing when she didn’t even know I was there watching her).
-She won’t be embarrassed (I didn’t go into her class OR show anyone I had a change of clothes for her)
-She knows I still love and respect her (just not her choice) because I was kind, loving, quiet and didn’t embarrass her.

Having her mother stand in front of her at 7 in the morning with a pair of replacement pants?
I didn’t need to say much more. I sent my message loud and clear (even if I was quiet).

My job is to help teach her to preserve her dignity, that’s why I brought her pants…
and precisely why I kept it low key. Kids need respect even when we don’t feel happy with their behavior.

You know what else? A funny thing that happened while I was there. The principal saw me standing in the hall waiting for the right moment to get my child’s attention and said, “WHAT ARE you doing???”. I held up the pants, whispered my plan and got an Atta-Mom and a 'thank you'.

Teachers and principals have a hard job. Their goals are to help raise our kids in the right ways to go.
If we don’t back them up, how can it work? I’m part of the equation as my child’s parent; I’m the schools partner (or at least I should be)…and I’m NOT afraid to enforce the best for my child or ask the school to (no matter where I have to go or what I have to do).

Want to read more unthinkable discipline solutions?

Just type ‘discipline’ into the search bar for more common sense Family Matters discipline ideas.

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