|At one of my parenting parties the other night, a mother of a 12 year old girl asked me a question about the appropriate dress for a 12 year old girl. I asked her to be more specific and she went on to describe the cleavage action her daughter displays in her low-cut tee shirt. I heard a few murmurs of jealousy from my middle-aged group of moms, I think wishing they had a cleavage problem, but that's another discussion. I resisted an eyebrow raise, hearing my own mother's voice in my head, "you are not leaving the house in that shirt young lady. But this is not 1965, so instead of drawing from my own experience I will attempt to use my expert's hat. To finish the story, this mom went onto say that she didn't feel like there wasn't anything she could do or say. How could she possibly be able to compete with today's culture, blahblah magazines, TV etc. OK so parents, this kid is 12, you are still very much the bottom line.|
The trick is to get your kid to do what you want without challenging them to go put that t-shirt on in the girl's bathroom when they get to school. Use your relationship, humor, and demonstrations to get them to see your point. To use your relationship, you might say that you totally understand how dressing like a slut, no only kidding, OK start over, you could say that you totally understand that she is proud of her body, that's a good thing, you are a beautiful girl, and I am so happy you like the way you look, but that is not something that she needs to present to the world quite yet. You might put on a revealing top yourself, and then ask her how it would feel to go visit her classroom to help out in such a revealing shirt.
I would say that you understand that attention definitely feels good, but that you would rather see her get some attention from achieving something rather than from showing her hot little body. Also remember parents you have the money, so when you go shopping exercise your veto power. This doesn't mean she has to dress like a puritan, but cleavage or butt cracks at 12 are definitely a no no. You can also explain that this is a safety issue, and that when she is older she will have more experience and ability to deal with the attention especially if it is unwanted by scummy old man or young man, for that matter, and your job as a parent is to keep her safe.
You might also go over the rules of the school, most school now have dress codes and so your work will be done for you. And by the way, if your young tween is already dressing like a 16 year old she is probably also behaving like one, overly flirtatious, and provocative. If she is that needy for attention you need to figure out why. Because at 12 she is spending more time imitating and fantasying about the future rather than being happy and excited about the present.