Fighting over stepdaughter's fashion


Dear Harriette: I have a stepdaughter in her early teens. Her body is changing and she's beginning to change her style and sense of fashion. She's into jeans and wants to be thought of as attractive by the boys at school. But my stepdaughter has a grown woman's body.

She and her father had a huge fight recently over some low-rise jeans she was trying to wear that a friend gave her. She did not look nice in them.

I am a very petite woman and she has told me flat out that I have nothing to tell her about clothes or how to dress because I don't know how she feels. How can I help her relate to what it means to have a sense of proper dress?

ANN MARIE, Ardmore, Pa.

ANN MARIE: You must first build -- or rebuild -- a bond of trust with your stepdaughter. Teens look to get away from any and all adults who want to "tell them what to do." Since she probably doesn't feel she "has" to answer to you anyway, be extra careful when approaching this topic so you hold her attention.

Be honest about your life. People learn well by example, as opposed to ridicule or any type of direct confrontation. Tell her how it was for you or your friends growing up.

Do you remember stories of how boys responded to you regarding your attire that might illuminate this moment for her?

Be honest about how you felt she looked in those jeans. Tell her you thought the idea of the jeans might have been good but that the particular pair she was wearing wasn't flattering on her and that she needs to be cautious.

Describe to her, without preaching, what messages people send to others based on their attire. Suggest that she begin to do a self-evaluation of her style and its impact on those around her. Be patient. Your loving attention will be valuable even if she doesn't welcome it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my colleagues has a habit of telling white lies to our boss in group meetings. He will often say something has been done or looked into when it hasn't happened.

Our boss has no way of checking behind us, but it makes me uncomfortable because he is speaking for the whole team and not just himself.

I brought this up to him and he thought I was making too big of a deal about it. Recently, one of his white lies put another team member's job in jeopardy. He still won't stop.

We've discussed it as a work group, but he won't budge. Should I go to my supervisor about it?

THOMAS, Rochester, N.Y.

THOMAS: Speak to your team again, and if possible form a united front with them. Agree to speak up the next time your colleague lies in a meeting and state the truth to your boss. Consider going as a group to your boss to express your professional grievances -- or solo if they won't go.

[United Feature Syndicate]

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