It warmed my Dark Soul when I stumbled across this post from a concerned parent on the internet. Many parents who have Goth teens, but who are not Goth themselves, do not understand the culture. Many of them freak out and instantly think their honor student has plummeted into the depths of despair, when realistically their child is learning to express themselves.
So when I stumbled across this question from a parents and read all the supportive responses, it made me smile.
“My 15 year-old daughter’s style is becoming increasingly goth/punk – black clothes, metal chains and belts, skulls and daggers, thick black eyeliner, and she recently colored her hair blue. I’ve been cool about it so far though I don’t like the whole darkness/hardness of it all. She’s starting high school this year. She’s an honor student and a thespian. None of her friends dress like this. Should I be worried, or is this just a stage?”
Read the responses below.
When my daughter was three she wanted pink hair. I took her my hairdresser and she had pink hair in preschool. Since then she has had purple, blue, red, black, blonde and yes…pink hair. She has also had a Mohawk and shaved half her head.
Since she was little we let her express herself and dress herself. She wears black tutu skirts with striped tights and Goth boots and the next day a frilly dress (with her Goth boots). 🙂
Self expression is important and it’s harmless.
My daughter is a good student and an All-Star soccer player. She also is a creative type and loves to write, sing and perform in school plays.
Don’t worry about outside appearances. Pay attention to what’s on the inside. If this is a dramatic and recent change, then look at her grades, are they staying up? Is she still engaged in her usual school and outside activities. If not, then having a heart-to-heart talk about how she is feeling is in order.
Just don’t assume that her outward self-expression means something is wrong. And while you don’t understand her self-expression, if you can find something you like about the way she looks like a dress, or tights or shoes and tell her you like them, you will make mother-of-the-year. You will build a bond with your daughter even you can’t possibly understand.
Goth is not just a fashion or music style, it is a culture and a community…a supportive and accepting community.
Good luck and God Bless!
I don’t think you should be worried. The way someone dresses doesn’t necessarily say anything about them. As long as she stays an honor student, there shouldn’t be any reason she can’t dress how she wants!
Just be supportive! I went through my punk rock years and my parents would always drive me and my friends to shows. It saved us catching a ride with some sketchy folks and they got a kind of inside look. It absolutely shaped my entire life, it was completely positive and absolutely necessary.
As with any teenager, keep an eye out for changes in behavior. Is her appetite changing? Is she remaining engaged with the things that she has always like to do? Is she maintaining the academic performance that she’s capable of? So on and so forth.
If you stay cool about how she dresses, you’ll find yourself in a better position if you need to confront some aspect of her behavior that troubles you.
My son is also an honor student and we let him dye his hair black over the summer (he paid for the dye himself) after he made honor roll again. Goth is increasingly popular among high school kids these days. It’s both a musical and a style movement, and the black eyeliner, black clothes and the rest add to the “shock value” that appeals to the rebellious in teens.
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My kids, age 11, 8 and 4 are encouraged to “express themselves” physically. Dyed hair is not an issue around here, nor is funky dressing, etc. I realize that many people consider my kids to be an extension of me – but they’re their own people with their own tastes, likes and dislikes and I want them to experiment while it’s safe. And while they don’t have bills to pay or job interviews to ace.
Judge your daughter based on her actions and attitude. Is she still a good kid? Is she still hanging out with friends and enjoying life? If so, all good. If not, don’t blame it on the appearance – look deeper.
(And, really, the fact that she’s the only one of her friends who does this? It just makes her seem, to me, to be a strong and confident woman and, zow, the world needs more of them!)
Worry less about how she dresses and more about how she acts. In high school, I knew punks who were straight-A and straight-edge (and some who were stoners), and I knew kids who dressed “respectably” but skipped classes and created mayhem.
Ask her what she likes about the style/music/culture. And just listen, and think about what things you wore/listened to that might have scared or alienated your parents when you were her age (there was probably something, right?).
There are all kinds of reasons to worry (like if she is on her third pregnancy before she’s 18, or she starts a grow operation in the garage), but blue hair isn’t one of them.
Blue hair was rebellious in the late 1970s; today, thirty years later, it’s just like wearing a hippy skirt or a poet shirt or any of a wide array of semi-alternative looks available to today’s discerning teenager.
Now, if her behavior follows — she starts down the path of bad grades and late night arrests and so on — then you will have to consider whether or not to stage an intervention. But the clothes and hair are not in and of themselves signifiers of anything, any more than her having a preppy haircut would automatically mean that she will be spending her weekends at fraternity keggers.
It’s not a problem until it’s a problem.
– Blue hair is fun, until she’s looking for a job or doing college admissions interviews.
– Sullen gothy behavior is fine, until her grades start to slip.
Pull your daughter aside, tell her she can dress however she wants as long as her grades stay high, she stays out of trouble, continues to apply herself, etc.
In high school, I had a mohawk, wore dog collars, and cut up all my t-shirts and put them back together with safety pins. My hair’s been just about every color your can think of. I loved going to punk shows.
I also didn’t drink, didn’t smoke anything, never engaged in self-mutilation, hardly dated, and was an honors student. Though as an adult I enjoy social drinking and have a bunch of tattoos, I also graduated college with honors and am doing really well in graduate school. Honestly, for me the appearance stuff was part of being a passionate, creative person. I had always been obsessive, and that was a stage where I poured my efforts into my appearance. Nowadays I pour that same passion into my writing and research.