One thing that you cannot avoid as a parent is the need, and the pressure that you will experience, to buy your teen clothing. Of course, by the time your child can be described as such, you will have been buying clothes for them for thirteen years (not a staggering observation, we admit, but the point makes sense!), but for a lot of parents, this is when things start to change. Teenagers have a lot of changes going on in their bodies, and their lives, and are entering into what is for a lot of people the most difficult and awkward stage of growing up. For all its artificiality (the term 'teenager' was only first coined in 1938, and in many ways, the extended self-questioning of adolescence is only made possible by the freedoms and leisure accorded to the young in the developed world) , this stage of life is a very difficult and confusing time, for boys and girls alike. It is best thought of as an extended period of development, experimentation, and uncertainty.

Strangely, teen clothing is an essential part of this. This may not be immediately evident, and in some ways this observation sounds almost trivial, but look at it again. If you think about it, the most important thing a teenager needs to work out during those awkward years is what kind of adult they are going to become. They are trying out different ways of being, working through different versions of themselves. The way a teenager looks is increasingly important, simply because this is how they can signal to the outside world that they want to be treated differently. This may be dressing in a self-consciously 'adult' manner, or it may be a simple issue of copying a popular look, in order to try and fit in with the prevailing culture around them, and with what other people are wearing. The average teen will go through phases where they try out first one look, then another. Every parent whose child has gone through that stage will have memories of a few strange transitions, and hopefully for the sake of posterity, photographic evidence!

All that said, this article is not here to suggest you just buy your teen clothing whenever they demand it! No-one can afford to keep up with the ever-changing whims of the teenager, so it's important to set out some guidelines and boundaries that they can operate around. The first of these is that it's worth giving them a degree of control over what they buy. If you don't, then all that will happen is that you are setting yourself up for a constant battle with them, as they ask for one thing and then that. Their opinions and yours will inevitably differ, and if you get into an argument with a teenager, you've already lost! It's really worth giving your teen a clothing budget, instead of buying clothes for them. This gives them what they really want above all- independence.

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