How a Simple Shopping Trip Turned Into Mission Impossible
But, it was all planned out…
The mission was going according to plan.
You had it all worked out. Chores: done. Errands: done. Dinner plans: done.
You are ready for a day of shopping with your precious daughter. A girl date. What could be better than mother-daughter bonding, right?
You drive to the mall and agree on where to shop first. You walk into the store and meander around a bit. Then you happily start picking out different colored tops and pants that you are sure she is going to love. You chit chat a bit as you cheerfully flutter from rack to rack.
Finally realizing that you have been the only one chattering, you look at your daughter’s face. Her eyebrows are furrowed. You pause and ask, “How are you doing? Finding anything?” She shrugs. You cheerfully ask, “Hey, what do you think of these?” You show her the treasures you found. Her face is free of any expression. You ask what’s wrong and she mutters an inaudible reply.
You show her a different top. She shrugs again. Hm. The initial enthusiasm is quickly seeping out of this trip.
Ok, then. “Please give these a try. I bet they will look cute on you.” You hope that trying on a few things might change her mood. She silently walks to the dressing room and tries on a couple items, but doesn’t like them. Things just devolve from there.
Mission NOT accomplished.
You feel frustrated, disappointed, and hurt as you drive home in silence. Your daughter is texting on her phone. No, “Thanks, Mom.” Nothing. Nothing, at all.
Ouch! I’m so sorry, Mom.
You are not alone in this experience. Many moms have experienced this with their teens. That is because this isn’t about you. It’s about your teen.
What’s up with my teen?
When your daughter reaches middle school, she enters a new phase. She feels uncomfortable in her own skin. There are a lot of changes going on inside and outside of her and all her friends.
Her Tigger-like enthusiasm in grade school has long faded. She is quietly more concerned about looking pretty. And she is certain that she is not…pretty.
Being out in public is painfully embarrassing. She is certain that everyone is looking at her and seeing all her faults.
Deep down inside she swings back and forth between one minute wanting to be little again and the next wishing she was all grown up, confident, and independent. It’s like emotional tug of war.
Do you remember those days, Mom? Pause and try to remember a day in your life as a teen. The nasty things said about you and about your classmates. Spoken from the mouths of boys you liked. Blurted out by acquaintances you hardly knew. And most painful of all, by your closest girlfriends. Ugly memories. But important for you to remember. Remembering will help you be more patient and empathetic with your daughter.
A whole new thing.
Shopping for clothes, from her perspective, isn’t just about wearing colors she likes anymore. It’s about who she is, how she looks, how she feels, and what she wants to communicate to the world. Especially to the boys of this world.
“Is there hope for future shopping trips or will they be forever this miserable?”
Yes, there is hope!
Communication is the key, in 5 steps:
- Encourage your daughter to focus. Save the different advertisements that come to your house via the mail and newspaper. Write your daughter a note encouraging her to circle the different outfit styles she likes. Tell her that you want to learn about what she likes. End the note by telling her that on a certain day you would like to spend some time looking at them together. Take the note and the ads and put them on her bed when she isn’t around. This will get the conversation started.
- Learn what your daughter likes. For that specified date, make a snack for you two to enjoy. This helps create a relaxing ambiance. Ask her to show you the different outfits she liked. Ask open questions like: “What do you like about this style of outfit?” “What parts of the outfit do you sort of like but might change if you could?” “What color combinations do you like?”
- Inquire about how her classmates dress. “What do girls wear at school?” “What do you think your classmates communicate by the way they dress?” “What do you want to communicate about yourself by the way you dress?” During these conversations encourage your daughter using open-ended questions and phrases like: “Tell me more about that.” “What do you think?” Be free of judgment. Using phrases like these communicates to your daughter that her thoughts and feelings matter. This also encourages her to slow down, reflect, and learn more about who she is and what she wants the world to see.
- Create a Shopping Rules of Engagement. Tell her that you see her as a beautiful young lady, not a little girl. That you want her to feel comfortable shopping with you. Ask her what you can do to help her feel less self-conscious when shopping together. Taking these steps will help your daughter feel more confident, relaxed and prepared for your shopping trip. She will also worry less about being embarrassed in public.
- Follow Up. After your excursion, spend time talking through how it went. Ask her what worked and if there were things that could make the experience even better next time. Share any moments that would make the experience better for you, too. Throughout this experience remember to do your best to be patient. Remember this is also new territory. Be gracious with each other if you accidentally fall back into old habits. You are creating a new way of doing life together. And remember…
Communication is key to not only a happy shopping spree. It’s the key to all meaningful connections in life. And not just with moms of teen daughters.
What’s your “mission impossible” and what steps did you take to breakthrough? Add to the conversation. We’ll be glad you did.