Peer pressure:
“I'm worried about my daughter becoming Goth!”

Dear Annie,

My pre-teen daughter says she wants to be Goth. When I asked her why, she said, "I don't know." Because she has no good reason, it feels like she's just going along with a fad in order to be popular. I want her to know what she stand for. Doing something just because others do it isn't going to teach her anything about being her own person. How can I change her mind and convince her that being Goth will not help?

Anti-Goth Dad

Dear Anti-Goth Dad,

I wonder what being "Goth" actually means to your daughter? Or for that matter, what does it mean to you? Is it a style of clothing, make-up, hair, or does it mean something else to each of you?

The fact that she "doesn't know" why she wants this tells me that you can help her understand the unspoken need that may be underlying her interest in all things Goth. She's just started middle school and she's probably trying to figure out a whole new social system. Old friendships may be shifting and that can be unsettling. Is she looking for a way to fit in or to stand out from the crowd? Is she trying to figure out who she is in this new place? Ask her "If you were 'Goth' in what ways do you think people would respond to you differently?"

Keep your tone respectful as you openly explore ideas together, and this could be a really wonderful conversation. It could bring you and your daughter closer together and help you emphasize why you believe "knowing what she stands for" is an important value in your family.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Annie

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