Dear Crabby, My Daughter Constantly Wants New Clothes

Dear Crabby,

My daughter is always trying to keep up with the latest trends and constantly wants new clothes!  This is very costly.  What do you suggest we do to change her habits?

Sincerely, Fashion Diva’s Mom

Dear Diva’s Mom,

I remember the battles of peer pressure and how a young person can be influenced this way and that. Personally, it was not an issue for me, but it was for some of my friends and for my own daughter.  I remember my friend – we will call him Shuman to protect his true identity – wanted to get a tattoo when we were in the military together.  I thought he was nuts, but he said all the guys were all doing it so he wanted to do it too.  He went out and had this large, dominant-looking eagle tattooed right on his chest.  He proudly showed it to everyone he could at the time.  Nowadays, gravity and time have done their job and  it resembles more of a plump chicken squatting on its nest than a majestic eagle.  Oh well, I guess you live and learn.  Peer pressure is a funny thing though.  It comes on strong in those teenage years, hangs on a bit until your middle ages, then around my age it’s not really an issue.  Of course, many of my peers are no longer alive either.  As far as how to respond to this daughter of yours, there is no easy answer.  When my daughter hit those young teen years, I was in a total quandary as to how to respond.  She would come downstairs, after spending hours in her room getting ready, and ask, “How do I look, Daddy?”  To which I would respond, “You look fine, Honey.”  Right back upstairs she would run to change her outfit!  I’d ask her why she changed and she’d say, “The goal was never to look ‘fine,’ Dad!”  So I made a mental note to be more descriptive and complimentary the next time she asked.  That didn’t really work either though.  The next time she asked I was very calculated and responded, “Oh Sweetheart, you look great!  Just like your mother!”  I thought I had killed two birds with one stone, complimenting both of my girls in one sentence.  But, no, my daughter screamed, “Oh my gosh! That’s horrible!” and ran back upstairs.  Then, to add insult to injury, Mrs. Crabby got up and ran upstairs crying as well!  My, these girls are hard to figure out, I tell you.  So I went and wrote down three things:  1) Never say “fine.”  2) Never compare a daughter to her mother.  3) Appropriate responses to a daughter’s clothes include “beautiful,” “breathtaking,” or “magnificent.”  I would practice saying those responses in the mirror or to the dog to make sure I was truly convincing.  Of course, I got some cockeyed looks from the neighbors as the dog was doing its business in the yard and I was standing there saying, “Beautiful, breathtaking, magnificent!”  Anyway, it turned out there were only a few more opportunities to actually use those responses on my daughter before she was no longer interested in her dad’s opinions.  So as far as your little girl, I recommend setting spending limits and then using positive reinforcements on her selections.  Finally, consider the age and sprinkle lots of understanding in your commentary before you respond – the time goes by fast!  Hope that helps!

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at