Back in Black
When I was in high school, the cafeteria was unofficially sectioned off into groups, with members of a certain group sitting in the same area or at the same table every day. One of those groups where the Goths, or kids who dressed in black, had an interest in things like Satanism, the occult, or vampires, and who generally tried to look threatening and intimidating, even if they weren’t actually unfriendly all the time.
If this describes your teen, should you be worried? This kind of behaviour can alarm parents to no end. The good news is that even when kids start dying their hair black, tossing any clothes that aren’t black, and invite their friends over to use the Ouija board, generally, the kids are all right. This is just another example of trying on a new persona to see if it fits. If your child starts to show signs of depression or a major shift in mood, changes his or her group of friends radically, or becomes very secretive about what s/he’s doing with friends, those are signs for concern.
Black hair, black clothes, annoying music, an interest in vampires? Not necessarily a sign of impending problems. Just keep the conversation open with your kids, particularly about what and whom they may be talking to on the Internet as they search for more information about their new hobby — some of the people online who are involved in these sorts of activities can be pretty dark and have been known to urge kids to do things that aren’t in their best interest. These are sites are not necessarily a great place for teenagers to spend time, but your best approach is to talk with your teens about your concerns and make sure that you continue to be nonjudgmental, open to talking, and interested in their opinions.
If things are generally ok at home, your teen is generally doing well at school, continues to socialize and bring friends around, and your instinct is telling you that it’s just a (annoying, perhaps) phase, then trust that. Hair will grow back, new clothes can be bought, and taste in music and books can evolve. It’s just another way for kids to assert their growing autonomy…with the added bonus of driving their parents crazy at the same time.