From Shopping Shame to Disobedient Children

article top

“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Shopping — Why the Embarrassment?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I love shopping at thrift stores, especially when I get new designer clothes. But when people compliment me and ask me where I buy my clothes, I’m embarrassed to tell, but I don’t want to fib. How do I respond?

Designer Wear

Dear Designer Wear:

Guilt and shame can run deep, and many adults find themselves burdened with childhood conditioning that to take hand-me-downs and to shop at bargain basements is shameful — they are reluctant to share their shopping preference because of the fear of how others may judge them. As one shopper put it, “I can’t tell people that I shop there; they’ll think I’m a scrooge or that I’m poor and down trodden.”

Some people have neutralized this conditioning by exploring the attitudes acquired in childhood that solidified this type of emotional reaction. Having done this, they have been able to go to thrift stores and grab those designer clothes, and if they see that $300 evening gown or that $600 cashmere sweater that they can pick up for $3.95, then they jump on it like a dog on a bone. In one instance, a shopper resolved the type of shame you described and then when her friend admired her garment, she comfortably said, “oh it’s a little something that was on sale and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to indulge myself.”

”Body Piercing – What’s a Parent to do?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I have forbidden my children from body piercing. Last week I accidentally walked in on my daughter in the bathroom and saw she had a navel ring. I later found out she’s had it for months. I am shocked that she’d go behind my back. I wonder how to proceed?


Dear Deceived:

When children disobey their parents, a path to success that I have observed is when parents immediately forbid their children to engage in the prohibited behavior (naval ring), and for some time impose heightened parental scrutiny (with body piercing, there could be a need to submit to inspection of the body so that the parent can be sure that the child is not rebelling).

Parents must be consistent with this behavior and if the child rebels, consequences must be applied to bring the child to understand that as long as they live in their parents’ home, then they must conform to the guidelines and etiquette that the parents teach.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

”’Email your questions to More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”’