When Teens Shrug off Jackets
Does your teen leave for school without a jacket when his breath is visible in the chilly morning air? If so, he's not the only one who has lost his sense of sanity when it comes to dressing appropriately for the weather. Chances are you'll see several other teens standing at bus stops, seemingly half frozen, without a jacket.
Parents with younger kids might think that the parents of teens are not paying attention. Did we not see that our teenagers left without a coat or are wearing shorts when it's cold outside? Most of us probably did, but we've given up on this one. Or maybe you shoved a jacket in your teen's hand as he ran out the door, but it was instantaneously stuffed in the book bag.
Are you frustrated with your teen's apparent ignorance when it comes to the weather? Some parents feel that, at this point in our children's lives, there are more important things to grouse about.
What's going on?
Why don't teens like to wear jackets? I've heard it all from my own teens. Responses vary: They don't fit in the locker. The bus is hot. It's just another thing to carry. It's too bulky, it's not cool, and so on.
Many retailers have caught on. Stores that cater to teens carry heavy, lined sweatshirts. This satisfies both the parents and the teens. These garments provide more warmth without excessive bulkiness or the look of a typical winter coat.
Whose problem is it?
Evonee Weinhaus, a licensed clinical social worker, therapist, communications coach, and co-author of Stop Struggling With Your Teen and the award-winning, Stop Struggling With Your Child (Penguin USA), advises, "Pick your battles. Know when to let go and when to take a stand." She says that you will know the difference if you ask the question: Does this problem directly affect me? "In this case," Weinhaus says, "the answer is a resounding no."
However, some parents can't let go of this issue. If you can't stand watching your teen go out the door sans warm coat, Weinhaus says you should avoid nagging and giving in. "Check the weather report for the day," she says. "If it is under a certain temperature, alert your teen and say something simple like, 'I hope you wear a jacket today, but I realize it is you who will be cold, not me.'"
She also advises simple actions. "Hand your teen a jacket," she says. "What is important is to use motion, not emotion. Don't talk, just act."
Weinhaus explains that you should take control, but not control of your teen. Instead, take control over the problem.
Let it go
It's difficult, but you may need to just let her be cold. If your teen freezes once or twice, maybe she'll put on warmer outerwear the next time.
A doctor will say that being cold doesn't cause a winter virus. If you're truthful with yourself, you may remember opting out of a jacket a few times as well. I've gone without one on formal occasions when I just didn't have the coat that worked with the fancy dress. So don't bother getting cranky. We'll all have sweaters on when it's 90 degrees outside in 40 years or so anyway!
Myrna Beth Haskell is a feature writer and columnist specializing in parenting issues and children's development. She is the mother of two teenagers.