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Dressing for the Future

What’s harder for a dad? Shopping for his daughter’s dress for homecoming? Or realizing that his little girl is growing up.


Smart Mama

What’s harder for a dad?

Shopping for his daughter’s dress for homecoming? Or realizing that his little girl is growing up.

My 16-year-old stepdaughter, Britni, headed to the mall with her girlfriend and her dad recently to prepare for this year’s homecoming dance.

They returned hours later with a dress in hand.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Britni is a teenager. Need I say more?

I asked Britni to show me the dress she picked out. She came downstairs a few minutes later and twirled around.

I was pleased that it was a nice dress. But, just as William and I thought we were done, she announced that she had seen another dress.

William first responded by reminding her that he had asked her to make sure the dress she picked out was the dress she wanted. And, like most typical teens she had reaffirmed her choice.

But that choice quickly changed when she spied a different dress just as she was leaving the mall.

So, we headed out to the mall the next day to seek out this new dress.

Britni found it right away and hurried off to the fitting rooms.

I heard grumbling coming from beside me and saw that William wasn’t happy with his daughter’s new choice.

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He said the first dress was better. I told him to wait and see how the second dress looked.

Britni came out of the fitting room with her new dress and a big smile. I could tell from her expression this was the dress she really wanted.

I could also tell that William still liked the other dress better. “The other dress fit her better and was a nicer color,” he said to me.

I told him that the new dress was different, but it made Britni happy. I also said that the dress was still tasteful for a 16-year-old to wear and that should be enough.

Even though the other dress might have been a better choice for Britni, according to her dad, it didn’t make her happy. And as parents, sometimes we have to give in, even if it means not liking our children’s decisions.

It’s part of growing up for both parents and children.

Letting children make their own decisions is one of the hardest things parents have to do. We worry that they will make the wrong choices and get hurt.

And while picking out a homecoming dress is not the end of the world, it’s a definite sign of independence for a 16-year-old. And it’s sad for a parent to see that his little girl isn’t so little anymore.

Children grow up and so do their decisions. Choices become more complicated than deciding on what clothes to wear.

As parents, we hope that we have prepared the child to make the right decisions.

For the child, the choices become a part of learning, and the child hopes the parent is proud and stops worrying about them and their choices.

But when you’re a parent, you never stop worrying.

Because that’s what the love of a parent is.

Samantha Dellinger is the graphic designer for Smart magazine. For more Smart Mama columns, visit


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