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Regarding your 12 year old granddaughter and wanting her to dress differently, it also sounds like you are concerned about her in other ways (only one friend, dropped former activities). The middle school years are a period of change and experimentation, often insecurities, and most of all question of identity; peer group becomes very important, and a sense of belonging or striving to belong can be expressed through clothing in an effort to appeal to others. Your granddaughter may perceive the "goth" or Gothic black look fashionable among many adolescents now, as a route to achieve identity or status; this may be experimental and last only awhile, and she may need room to express herself. Perhaps you could reach agreement on certain limits for certain settings, and then let her be free the rest of the time; it does not have to be all-or-nothing. However, if she seems to withdraw from pleasurable (to her) activities, have sleep and appetite changes along with increased irritability or mood changes greater than expected for these challenging years, she may be somewhat depressed, and not clear on that herself. In that case you may want to consult her teachers and school counselor, other significant adults in her life (extracurricular activities, church leader, extended family member close to her); and professional consultation might be appropriate. Also, online chat rooms, CD music, segments of teen culture can have an effect; it would be interesting to know what she listens to, watches and participates in online.
Submitted on 12/02/03 at 11:40:44
Susan McKenzie , LCSW