It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “I Blame Social Media,” the mom who wrote in a couple days ago about her teenage daughter wanting to wear a thong bikini. This is part update, part new question, and part complaint that her original question didn’t get enough attention from all of you:
I have spoken to my daughter about this. I was just kind of wanting an outside opinion. Like I said, my daughter, who’s very headstrong, likes to respond in snappy little comebacks like “It’s my body, I’ll do what I want” and, of course, “Everyone else is doing it”, mostly referring to her girlfriends and the likes of the Kardashian girls, whom she’s obsessed with. That’s kinda why I blame social media.
We live about 90 minutes away from South Beach, just outside of town. It is quite common to see thongs and topless frolicking on the beaches there. It’s actually kind of the norm for girls and guys. So she has been desensitized to it over the years. But that doesn’t mean I condone that, especially for my daughter. She turns 17 in a month, so, yes, she isn’t an adult, but I have to allow her some sort of personal responsibility even if I don’t agree with it.
Some of her girlfriends actually were heading down there this past Monday to lay out and celebrity-watch. I played hooky from work and joined them. My daughter made it clear she would be wearing her thong and, if I was going with them, that was what I was going to see. Two of the girls did indeed wear thong or very skimpy bottoms, as did a lot of other women on the beach. I reserved myself to pick my battles. That battle line was drawn when my daughter announced she was going to take her top off to get sun. When I raised hell about that, she laughed, saying it was a joke. But she also admitted that she has lain out “many times” topless, as have her girlfriends, who all admitted as much. So now, bigger than the butts is the boob issue. What do I do? Forbid her from ever going to the beach without me until she’s 18 or out of my house? We’ve already discussed the issues and the ramifications of the butts, which is only enhanced by the boobs. She just doesn’t seem to care about such things (her future, revenge porn sites, etc.).
I think that when I was a teen, I liked the attention even though I wasn’t sure why I liked it and what it meant and what type of attention it was. I’m still so fearful she’ll end up regretting this and it’ll comeback to haunt her. — I blame social media
Wait, you played hooky and hung out with your almost 17-year-old thong-wearing daughter and her friends at the beach all day? I’m wondering if maybe one of the issues here — perhaps even bigger than the social media that you blame — is the lack of clear boundaries between you and your daughter. You are her mother, not her friend. Sure, there’s an appropriate time — and, frankly, an appropriate wardrobe — for the two of you to hang out together on the beach, but I’m not sure a workday (that you’re skipping) with a bunch of her friends, with her in a skimpy thong and the threat of toplessness, is it.
Be her mother and tell to cut the shit or she doesn’t get to go to the beach while she’s living under your roof. Tell her you don’t care what the other girls are doing because they aren’t your daughters to worry about. SHE is your daughter and, at 16 years old and living in the United States (where we have a different culture around public nudity than, say, in Europe), where images can be discreetly taken and easily shared online, it is entirely inappropriate for her to be dressed the way she wants to dress at the beach, period, and it’s your job to protect her from the exploitation she risks facing by continuing to dress so provocatively at such a young age. Yeah, she’s going to be angry at you. Denying her the privilege of hanging out at the beach with her friends until she agrees to your rules will likely affect your relationship. But it sounds like you need a drastic measure to re-establish your authority and your role as a disciplinarian. (Honestly, I’d be interested to know when the last time was that you did discipline your daughter and what the infraction was).
In life, your daughter is not always going to get to do what she wants to do simply because everyone else is doing it. There are also going to be consequences to her actions. It’s your job to teach her these lessons in the safety of your supervision while she’s still young enough for the lessons to have some impact.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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