Teen Dress for School Dance Can Be a Battle

woman shopping

Teen dresses for dances aren't always easy to find.

Choosing a teen dress for the school dance can be a battle between moms and daughters. My youngest daughter has a Valentine’s Day dance coming up soon, so we hit the mall this evening to locate the “perfect” dress within our budget.

Teen Dress for School Dance Can Be a Battle

Last year, my own daughter would have argued with me about everything from the length of the dress to the cleavage. I used to absolutely dread going shopping with her anywhere. I am not about to budge from my standards and she was intent on testing those standards.

It’s amazing what a difference a year of maturity and perspective can make in our children. At fourteen, she may not be perfect, but she is much more mature than she was at thirteen. She also has different friends and influences in her life. The dresses she chose were modest enough to keep me happy and modern and young enough to keep her happy. She knew our budget and while there was a dress she loved that was far too expensive, she didn’t really argue about buying it. She simply said wistfully that she really loved it. If it hadn’t been $150, I probably would have bought it for her a bit over budget, but that was way too much money for a simple Valentine’s dance. There was little argument involved in her dress selection. She found a dress she loved, I approved, and we stayed in budget. As she and I laughed and enjoyed the different outfits, I couldn’t help overhearing the arguments going on down the hallway of the dressing room and wondering how many mothers dread shopping with their daughters.

One mother wanted her daughter to buy a dress because it was deeply discounted and only $10.00. The daughter first told the mother she hated the dress. Then, she proceeded to scream about how ugly it was. It actually looked really cute on her, but she was determined her mother would not force her to wear it. The mom and I exchanged a sympathetic smile. “Is she 13?” I asked. The mom said yes and I told her I’d been there.

A few more doors down, a mother and daughter argued over the length of a very short dress that I suspect may have been a shirt.

Another daughter insisted she looked good in orange while her mother insisted she didn’t. Her mother was right.

Getting Past the Arguments

I wish I could tell you that it was some wonderful super parent thing that I did that changed the tone of this shopping trip. I also wish I could tell you that every shopping trip from here on out will be ideal. That is extremely doubtful with teenage girls as so much depends upon their moods and hormones. I will share what I did over the last year in the hope that it will spark some ideas for you. However, you know your daughter better than anyone else, so you’ll need to decide what will and won’t work.

  • I never budged on my standards. Pleading, crying, arguing and embarrassing scenes in public were responded to by us leaving the shopping mall or store and going home that day. My daughter once told me in front of a store full of people that I was just jealous of her because she looked good. Yes, that was embarrassing. I calmly told her to put her regular clothes back on and then just walked on out to the car with her stomping behind me all the way. I have often said that 12 and 13 are like going back through the terrible twos, only teens are much more verbal.
  • I took a long, hard look at the influences around her and didn’t like what I saw. While not everyone will find that their daughters are easily influenced by others, you know if your child is or isn’t. I began to talk to her a lot about things I saw and eventually moved her to a new school for many, many reasons that are too numerous to list. She still has a couple of her old friends, who go to church with us and who are really good kids and are good to her as well. Throughout life, there are times when we need to hold close to those who are good for us and walk away from those who aren’t. This was one of those times.
  • I learned to prepare her before we went shopping. I now tell her how much money we have to spend and that anything over it just isn’t possible. I also tell her what I won’t allow her to purchase with my money. That includes anything too revealing or age inappropriate. She can have heels, but not six-inch heels. She can have no sleeves, but not strapless. The skirt can be above her knees but not up to her hiney.

If you’re worried that the next dress for a school dance is going to be a battle, you may want to try some of the techniques above. Another option can be to borrow a dress from someone else, which eliminates the battle of shopping altogether. Take heart. Your daughter is growing and maturing every day. One day she will surprise you and pick a dress you both love without any heartache at all.

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Crabby Housewife

Crabby Housewife

Lori is a full-time housewife and writer, living in the Midwest with her husband of 27 years - they have two daughters. They have a house full of pets and her house is never quite perfect.