More CPO Editorials

Shopping with Teenagers

Shopping with teenagers is something we should all experience at least once in our life. Some of us will be "priviledged" to enjoy this experience time and again, especially, if we control the family finances.

It's probably one of the few times I can count on my teens to get up early with little prompting. Hmmm. At 6:30 A.M., they're already in the shower, unlike school days when prodding and nagging are necessary just to get them to open their eyes.

Let's see. Since shopping is going to require most of the day - I'd better prepare. Dress for comfort. (Hours of shopping are not compatible with skirts, heels or boots.) Breakfast? They won't eat before we leave but not to worry, they'll let me know when they're hungry and it more than likely will be when we're on the road. My car will need a full tank of gas. Better stop at the bank and get "lots of money". Oh, don't forget the charge cards. I'll need them. Bring the Advil. (It's a long trip back if my head is hurting. Even if I'm having a great time and getting fantastic bargains, spending money gives me headaches.)

Find a shopping center that is known for its sales. My personal favorites are:

  • Gurnee Mills - Gurnee, IL (N of Chicago) - Great outlet mall!
  • Janesville Mall - Janesville, WI - Great Packer stuff!
  • Woodfield Mall - Woodfield, IL - Great atmosphere!
  • Cherryvale Mall - Cherry Valley, IL (Rockford area)
It isn't that I don't like the area stores - I do. It's just if you are going to make a whole day of shopping - you must go out of town to enhance the excitement. For the shorter shopping trips or when time is of the essence, I go to the area malls.

Ground rules are essential to enjoy instead of regret the experience. My suggested ground rules:

  • We don't go power shopping if we don't have a decent amount of money to spend. There is nothing worse than spending all day shopping and coming home empty. At the very least, you must go out to eat and you must stop at the candy store and buy some strange and exotic candy to share with our menfolk who choose to stay home.
  • No wierd or border-line purchases. If we're shopping out of town, I certainly don't want to be driving all the distance back if someone changes their mind - so, be sure of the purchases. If the deals are there, we buy ahead for birthdays, Christmas, new babies, anniversaries, etc. Well, why not? We're looking for bargains.
  • No begging. No tantrums. No bad moods. I know we're dealing with teenagers but the rules stand or the whole day will be ruined. Be willing to make some compromises. Maybe the little shirt is ...well ...too skimpy, but I could be flexible on the wide leg pants. Neither the teen nor the adult needs to be stuck in a power struggle. However, as always there are some things that are definitely a no-go.
  • Parents: If it is a moral issue - don't back down. If it costs too much - stand your ground. Teenagers need to learn how to shop for bargains and respect the fact that their parents are the ones earning the money. And frankly, if you earn it - you have the final say. I have a set limit on what I will spend for certain items, such as jeans, shoes, etc., if they want something more expensive, they have to pay the difference. It can go on their tab and they can pay it back in cash or by doing extra chores.
  • In my case, if all three of my girls go, it's a guarantee of a great time. (Nothing against their brother or their father, but they just don't like to shop, especially, "power shopping" (making a whole day of it.) The girls will go into many different stores and try on clothes. Their standing rule is: If one is trying on something, it is required that the others also try on something. If they can't find something their sisters will find something (usually something quirky). They laugh and carry on like best friends.

The only problem with shopping is paying the bill. But that doesn't daunt them, because it's me who usually pays. Although, it has gotten better since the older two have gotten jobs and now buy most of their clothes. Remember, since I earned it - I have the final say in the purchase. And if they earned it, well, let's hope they still value my opinion. And if it's just plain obscene - I tell them no way. Hopefully, they will have learned some good taste in all the years at home.

Even if they pay for most of their purchases - lunch is always on me. I think somehow this has become a accepted tradition. Lunch is on the mother! And I don't count on the girls being on a diet - this is a special occasion. If money is tight, they'll skip dessert. The rule is: if we're "power shopping" a decent meal is essential to top off the day before we return.

It isn't the buying of clothes and things that makes the day special, although everyone likes new clothes and things. It isn't the long trip to the mall, although it is a great opportunity to open up and talk about what's going on in our lives. It isn't the meal, although, taking the time to eat in a good restaurant is relaxing. It's everything. It's being together and enjoying each other's company. It's making memories that you will treasure when life gets too hectic and finding time you can all be together is often impossible.

It's an experience we all deserve. Providing the rules are followed, it can be fun for teens and their parents. Try it with your own teens and see. And when they get older and become young adults some power shopping then, too. Maybe by then ...they'll buy you lunch.

Other articles by Connie Eccles, CPO Editor
ComPortOne Home Page