DENISE: Hi there, I’m Denise Richardson and this is howdini.com. I don’t know if this drives you wild, but children, young women dressing provocatively – your child. Are you having a problem with that? Can’t wait to get to this with Ann Pleshette Murphy, who’s the contributing parent authority over at Good Morning America, plus the author of The 7 Stages of Motherhood. It drives me crazy, to see these kids with these skirts up to their tushes, these low-cut blouses, and their role models seem to be all of these Hollywood youngsters.
ANN: Well, it’s true. I mean they are, the images they’re getting, and they’re getting hundreds of thousands of them, you know, every year tend to be pretty provocative. And sometimes when you’re dealing with a little girl, one of the things I do tell parents is, if they have an eight, nine year old who says that she wants to look sexy, it’s very important before you freak out to say to her, well what do you mean by that? You know, what do you think sexy looks like? ‘Cause sometimes that’s what little girls say when they actually want to look pretty, what they think looks pretty. When you’re talking about a pre-teen, who is at that stage where she hates everything about her body, it’s understandable that they will sometimes push the envelope to just see if they can, you know, be a different person when they go out the door. And it’s, it’s critical for parents to be, you know, empathetic.
DENISE: Someone’s going to, is watching right now and they’re saying, my kid’s going to hate me if I tell them to take it off. After all, we went through our phases with our kinds of clothes.
DENISE: Shouldn’t they be able to go through theirs?
ANN: Well I think they should, you know, to a certain extent. You don’t have to like everything they were, I mean, that’s something else. You know, if your child decides that she’s someone who’s only wearing black, and you love bright colors, just zip it. As long as it’s not something that’s, you know, inappropriate behavior is something else, or provocative dress is something else. Because I think that, you can talk about a reputation; you can talk a little bit about how people perceive her, and is that how she really wants to be projecting? I think you can also use this as a teachable moment to talk about how woman are portrayed in the media.
DENISE: You have so many types in Hollywood, and you know the names: The Britneys, the Lindsays, the others who dress provocatively – expose themselves – and they have a fan base.
ANN: I think that even if your daughter is having posters of Lindsay Lohan all over her room, and she’s dressing like Lindsay and cutting her hair like Lindsay, she doesn’t necessarily – she’s not going to become Lindsay or do what she’s doing. I think that, again, there are really opportunities here to talk about what she admires in somebody or why she thinks that’s something she wants to do. It shouldn’t just be, ‘no, you’ve got to take that off and wear what I want you to wear’ because that may not be the way you want to negotiate this particular dance and, you know, we all go through, all of these things are challenges to your authority as a parent.
DENISE: A lot of these issues, and ninety nine point three quarters percent of these issues are about communication. And the parent says, ‘I’m a single parent, what do you want me to do? I’m trying to put food on the table, I’m running out of the house to take care of business, and you expect me to have these conversations?’ What do you have to say to that?
ANN: Well I, I think it is hard to find the time to do it, and I think the time not to do it is when you’re really upset about what she’s wearing. I think, you know, you can say to her, ‘look, right now I want you to change your clothes. We’re not discussing it now, later we’re going to sit down and talk about this.’ And that’s, later you have to follow through. I think you need to come in and talk about why it’s upset you, and give yourself some time to think it through. And tell her what the rules are; that you don’t mind if she wears makeup but you don’t want her wearing her skirt up to her tukkus, and you don’t want to wear something that is really low-cut. That, that says something about her that you don’t think she needs to say.
DENISE: Thank you so much for the information, it’s, it’s great information, Ann Pleshette Murphy.