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Daughter Wants Expensive Clothes

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My 17-year-old daughter wants designer clothes and feels sorry for herself when I refuse to buy them for her. I know that it's important for kids to feel "in." I love her and know that she loves me, but I think it's unfair that she keeps sending me on a "guilt trip" when she doesn't get what she wants. I told her that I was going to use tough love: she must simply find a part-time job if she wants these expensive items. If she does not get something from me, she goes to her father. Please give me some guidelines on how to deal with my spoiled daughter.

A: You're making good parenting decisions by purchasing clothing for your daughter with both her preferences and your economic abilities in mind. Feeling sorry for herself if she isn't always dressed in designer labels is her choice. I'm sure that you've made it known to her that anyone who judges her worth by the labels on her clothes is not someone who has their values in order.

She can put you on a "guilt trip" but you don't have to buy a ticket to ride. Declare that her attempts to bribe you emotionally are not worthy of her or you. Your suggestion that she take a part-time job to get the money needed to keep herself in designer clothing is an excellent one. Taking care of your children's needs is your responsibility and it appears that you are doing fine in that department. Please get your husband on the same page with you regarding this issue. He is not teaching her appropriate lessons if he allows himself to be manipulated by her to get the expensive clothes that you won't buy her.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

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