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Teens and That Winter Jacket:The Dilemma

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The title of this article may seem silly to those who are not yet the parent of a teenager. Parents of teenagers, however, most likely got a bit of a laugh when they saw this title because teens everywhere are relentless about not wanting to wear their winter jackets. At the very least, they are resistant and at the very worst, they will refuse and wear a sweatshirt or no jacket or outerwear at all. Now, parents just don't get this. Why on earth would these teens choose to brave the cold without the ability to stay warm, especially since you just bought your kid a beautiful new jacket or coat? And let me tell you that these parents are not exaggerating. In my work with teens I see one teen after another on the coldest of days wearing no jacket and sometimes not even a sweater. I am talking about males and females here. I have even seen male teens wearing basketball shorts on the coldest of days.

Since so many parents struggle with their teens about this issue and the cold weather is here I think that this is a good time to discuss and dialogue about this topic. I have interviewed several teens about this reluctance to put on their jackets and here is what they tell me. By and large, the females tell me that the jackets or coats just ruin their overall look that they worked so hard on putting together in the morning. 'Why ruin a perfectly put-together outfit with a jacket if they don't have to?' is their overall sentiment. They also say that they don't get cold that easily. I don't know if this is true or not, but they sure act like they are not cold. There is no visible shivering going on.

Now the males I have spoken to focus more on being uncomfortable with the bulkiness of their winter jackets. They don't like the way the bulk looks; they don't like carrying around these heavy jackets; and they complain that they have difficulty fitting these jackets into their lockers. Now, I have never measured a locker and actually checked on its ability to house the unwanted jacket, but I do know that many boys complain about this locker situation. The males, like the females, also say that they don't get cold easily. Is this simply vanity over warmth? Who knows?

We have gotten some answers from the teens and they are remarkably consistent. The question is how you can use these answers and get your teenager to wear a jacket. Well, you can try perhaps to take your teen shopping for a thinner jacket, because they all agree that they don't like the
bulk. This is tricky, though, because they may tell you that they will wear it just to please you
and to get out of the store. I would really hate to see you spend your money and then find the jacket stuffed in a backpack somewhere.

My advice to parents everywhere is the following:

1. Have the teen participate in the selection of the jacket. Look, this may increase the odds that the teen will wear it. Every parent that I know would do just about anything to increase the chances that their kid is warm and toasty.

2. Make sure your teen has a nice heavy sweatshirt or sweater that they don't mind wearing outside. It's the next best thing to the heavy jacket. It's better than nothing, right?

3. Remind your teen once to take the jacket to school. They may stuff it in the backpack or take it off once they are out of your sight, but at least you will know that they have it in case they really do get cold.

4. Do not make this a major issue. If it becomes a struggle, then it is unlikely that either you or your teen will be happy or that anyone will be warmer.


5. Keep in mind that this is a teen issue that will pass. Eventually, they will request more than one jacket and you will perhaps be spending lots of money on jackets. They may even wear hats and gloves at some point.

They are teens and during adolescence the emphasis is on fitting in with your peers not your bulky jacket. Good luck and enjoy the holidays. Don't be surprised if your teen is not happy about the jacket that Santa brings.