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Dressing for Middle School

by Ronald A. Rowe | December 5th, 2013 | Social, Tweens

shirt shoppingOur family stumbled into a new parenting quandary this year. Up until now, our boys have gone to schools that required school uniforms. There was never any pressure to dress a certain way or to keep up with the Joneses since everyone dressed exactly the same. This year, with our move to the great state of Texas, our children are suddenly in a whole new environment that includes a more individualized sense of fashion — as well as the need for various coats and jackets as the seasons change, but that’s beside the point for now.

As parents, we are faced with a two-headed serpent here. On the one hand, we do not want to encourage any kind of ostentatiousness or over-much pride in appearances. Our sons are both blissfully ignorant of brand names and I have to admit that I pretty much like it that way. On the other side of the coin, we do want them to look their best and take some pride in their personal appearance. We don’t want to send our Tween to school in a burlap sack with a rope belt.

Somewhere between the two extremes, somewhere between the soul and soft machine*, there must be the right balance. Middle School is a time of change in so many ways. Increasing social pressure and awareness of the opposite sex brings about more intense competition and pressure to conform and fit in.

The best solution, or so it seems to me, is to encourage and enable your Tween to dress well without emphasizing cost or brand. Our young people should learn to dress well — belt on, shirt tucked, hair coiffed, clothes in reasonably good condition, etc. All that can be easily achieved without ever worrying about the brand or cost or falling into the dangerously expensive habit of conspicuous consumption.

Like so many other aspects of parenting, dressing for Middle School is a balancing act between two detrimental extremes.

*Does anyone out there know what this Mr. Mister lyric means? It sort of fits what I was going for here, but I don’t actually know if this is the correct usage or not. The first reader with a plausible explanation wins a phantasmagoric armorial trophy.

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