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Giving unsolicited advice to your adult children (specifc question - but curious about in general)

HoggirlHoggirl 2127 replies214 threads Senior Member
This is about a specific piece of advice, but I am curious about if/when/how you all give unsolicited advice to your dear, adult children.

Ds was recently tagged in some photos on FB. These were photos with coworkers at a training event, their work holiday party, and perhaps a non-work event. Compared to his work peers, I think he needs to step up his wardrobe. It’s not that he’s dressed inappropriately at all. It’s just that I know the clothes he is wearing are a bit old. He’s jeans look “tired.” He’s wearing a 5-year-old dress shirt. I think he thinks as long as there aren’t holes or stains, he can just keep wearing clothes forever. I don’t think he gets the concept of “worn.” He is frugal (for which we are thankful), but I don’t want him looking like a rag-a-muffin. He earns a good salary.

Dh (who has never been into clothing either) said I shouldn’t say anything to him. That if his appearance is an issue, someone at work will tell him that. I think that would be awful and embarrassing. I couldn’t help myself and texted him last night. So, I didn’t listen to dh. I tried to be “gentle.” I didn’t say he looked “worse” than his co-workers. Just mentioned the two things I wrote above. “Wonder if you might need some new work clothes? You wore that dress shirt in your high school senior photos five years ago” etc. I also acknowledged my telling him might make him mad, but I was going to say it anyway. That I would likely always give him unsolicited advice, but I would do my best to offer it only one time and not repeat myself (nag) over and over again. But, maybe I should never say anything ever unless I’m asked? I’m trying to be helpful.

Soooooo. Would you have said something to your kid about the clothes? I told him I realized it should all be about the quality of work he produces, but it isn’t. Rightly or wrongly, I do think appearances matter. Especially for his profession.

Then, more broadly, do you give your adult children advice when they haven’t asked for it?
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Replies to: Giving unsolicited advice to your adult children (specifc question - but curious about in general)

  • conmamaconmama 5004 replies352 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    Oh my, it’s so hard for me not to do that, too. I’m really trying harder not to do it because I can tell when it’s not appreciated as he gets a slight frown. I’m much better. I do find when I feel the need, I try to say it in such a way it doesn’t seem like a criticism, more an observation...sort of like you did. I’m still working on it. I was just thinking last night how hard it can be to change a parenting style, and that they still need me.... but to be a mom who gives less advice and just be there, encourage, be happy for them, etc.

    My dad gave so much unsolicited advice and criticism that I hated being around him, even as a more mature adult. I don’t want my kids to feel the same.
    edited February 2019
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  • Leigh22Leigh22 1061 replies9 threads Senior Member
    I wouldn’t have said anything. No one wants to be judged. Some people just don’t care that much about clothes. If it were an issue on the job I’m sure he’d be told. Above ideas about gift giving are great.
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  • bajammbajamm 1751 replies19 threads Senior Member
    I would have done similar to @momofsenior1 . And, if my kid lived close enough then I may set up a lunch date and attempt to do a bit of shopping together after, asking kids opinion on a shirt or skirt I like and asking my kid about their taste. If they indicated they really liked something I would buy it then or take note and buy it later for a gift.
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  • TatinGTatinG 7309 replies119 threads Senior Member
    My S was in a similar situation. Old, cheap looking clothes. I got him a Nordstrom gift card for Christmas. He got the message. I guess it wasn't too subtle, but he appreciated it.
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  • scout59scout59 3724 replies69 threads Senior Member
    What was your son's response?

    I only have a daughter, so the dynamic could be different. She's clothes conscious but dresses pretty conservatively, especially at work. All this to say, I've never felt the need to offer her unsolicited advice about clothing.

    But I have given her advice (unasked!) about other things - like what to do/say/serve when hosting her first holiday meal with her new in-laws. In doing so, I usually lead with "Do you want my advice?" or "Are you looking for my opinion?" Usually she wants to hear my suggestions.

    Does she act on them? well, that's a different story
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  • MarilynMarilyn 4343 replies142 threads Senior Member
    DH’s raisin d’etre is to give unsolicited advice. It has caused permanent damage to his relationship with DS but he can’t help himself. Now he tells me what he thinks DS should do since he thinks kid might listen to me. I also give advice but it works much better and I know how to read DS’s reaction so know when to back off. Some things I’ve been giving the same advice for years.

    I’ve been trying to get DS to upgrade his wardrobe for ages and he kind of wants to, but like OP’s son is frugal; also hard to fit. A while back I gave him a gift card to Nordstrom’s on condition he make an appointment with a consultant. It took him six months to get there, but he did appreciate the input. He bought one shirt at the time then later went to Nordstrom Rack with a better attitude.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78481 replies3537 threads Senior Member
    For Christmas one year, I gave my son a shopping spree with me as the personal shopper schlep at each store. We went to a sort of high end mall while visiting my family, and he got two very nice and good quality pairs of shoes, some new slacks and jeans of his choice, a few shirts and a sport jacket he had been looking for. It was a fun outing, and he appreciated someone else picking up the tab.

    Now...DD...nope. She took the money and went with a friend shopping.

    I should add...it’s DS, I didn’t agree with all of his choices, but you know....he has to wear them, not me.

    With DD, I agreed with everything she bought.

    So...I wouldn’t criticize your son’s clothing...but you could offer to take him shopping...on your dime!
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  • HImomHImom 36051 replies396 threads Senior Member
    I have taken S shopping on my dime when he was 1st starting out. We bought a lot of shirts (maybe 12?) He then decided to week through them and made me return about 9 of them. He now is pretty good about buying clothes he loves and looks great in at excellent prices.
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  • abasketabasket 21529 replies920 threads Senior Member
    As long as the clothes fit and weren't holes in them or his fly wasn't open I would not say anything. No one but you probably knows the age of his shirt.

    He might not want new clothes - even if you offer to pay for them.

    How old is he? Is he new at the job?

    I think the fact that you felt you had to text him because it was bugging you so much- even after getting your H's opinion- is a little bit of a sign that you just might need to let go a bit.

    As far as advice to my kids, I would give them advice if they ask for it or just in conversation just like I would any other adult I know - cause they are adults too! But with a filter, as to what I give advice for.
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  • mom60mom60 8438 replies516 threads Senior Member
    I try to think before I give my kids unsolicited advice. In an area likes clothes I wouldn’t hesitate. Though I would offer to take them shopping or pick up the tab. I often suggest to my S that he might want to wash his hair. He is fine with it. He is also super easy going.
    My girls I give unsolicited advice at times but I’m more careful. I try to remind myself that I can suggest something once. I have to hold myself back sometimes when I find myself wanting to repeatedly make the same suggestions.

    Like @Marilyn my H tends to tell me the things he thinks my kids should be doing. I don’t want to be part of a triangle.
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  • ams5796ams5796 596 replies4 threads Member
    It's so hard. My son sounds exactly the same. He doesn't care enough about his appearance. He's a cute guy, but he's a bit of a mess. We have an important funeral tomorrow. I saw him over the weekend and he looked like he desperately needed a haircut. I try so hard to not say anything, but sometimes I can't help it. I did say as nicely as possible that it would really make me happy if he'd get his hair cut before the funeral. He assured me that he would. He's always in search of a girlfriend and I often wonder if a makeover or some good grooming would help his cause.

    He's not easy going which makes the situation more difficult.
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  • yourmommayourmomma 1323 replies1 threads Senior Member
    I don't think you have to give him "advice." If such advice was given to me, at least now in my older years, I would double down -- break out the sandals and black socks.

    I think you can do a couple of things. Make it more of a joke -- "you have no fashion game." Or just buy him stuff for holidays, birthdays and such.
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  • Leigh22Leigh22 1061 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Doubling down is what my H does. His mother nags him about getting a hair cut - started about 6 months ago. He hasn’t had one since. Seriously, why would she care?
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  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay 19607 replies467 threads Senior Member
    I give my kids advice, but, thankfully, they are OK with it. They know that I pick my opportunities sparingly and wisely. My older son is a late bloomer and is just now starting to really "get" appearance things. He's 26.
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  • gouf78gouf78 7895 replies24 threads Senior Member
    LOL. I'm pretty good giving unsolicited advice now that I've had so much practice.
    . Some of it they even take. Some goes by the wayside until a later date when either they've grown up a bit or realized I was right. Or maybe I gave bad advice which was rightfully ignored. I'm very quick to admit my mistakes.

    The trick I found is to mention it exactly once (hopefully without it appearing to be blatant criticism) and let it go. It will sink in if it applies. Or end my advice with "do what you want, just an option!"
    I'm convinced parental advice is kept in a separate memory file in the brains of offspring to be used or discarded at a later date.

    Clothing makes an impression and if your son appeared "out of place" somehow in the picture with co-workers I'd mention it. My D used to dress like her co-workers (way laid back but she blended in fine) until I casually pointed out that was not how her bosses dressed--she stepped up her game without a further word said. A matter of "dress for the next job, not the one you have".
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  • MusakParentMusakParent 1061 replies9 threads Senior Member
    No way would I give a self supporting young adult unsolicited advice. I might gift him some clothes though that I thought were his style that would be work appropriate if I thought that wouldn't cause a problem for him. I have a younger teenage daughter who at 14 will barely except clothing from me though so I know dynamics can vary. My son would love a personal shopper and would probably happily prescribe to the Mark Zuckerberg wardrobe.

    Is he working in tech? If so, I'd not worry about it at all. LOL
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