The Adventures Of Fatherhood – December 8, 2023

On the drive to school yesterday, Carson and I saw a group of teens in shorts and T-shirts waiting for their buses. It was 26 degrees, and I initially thought the frost on my windshield was messing with me.

For some reason, I have given far too much thought to this concept of teenagers, mostly boys, refusing to wear a suitable amount of clothes. In our house, we have two extremes.

Carson, 14, does not like to be cold and basically only wears oversized hooded sweatshirts these days. On cold mornings, he has been known to wear two hooded sweatshirts to school. We have recently compromised and found a suitable middle ground.

Conversely, Beckett, 15, is never cold. Thanks to puberty and body changes, he is a massive sweater and often carries an extra shirt with him to change into if he suspects he may get pit marks. If it was up to him, I think he would be one of those boys in shorts and a T-shirt at the bus stop. What once irritated me is now more of a curiosity as to why my teen won’t dress for the weather, or at least wear a jacket. His favorite outfit these days would be athletic shorts and a hooded sweatshirt.

One day I was scrolling through social media and came across a post on headlined, “Aren’t they freezing? The REAL reason teenagers won’t wear coats.” It was as if my social media account was reading my mind or at least eavesdropping on the giggles Carson and I shared over the boys freezing at the bus stop.

Some highlights of the column resonated:

The other day, I was waiting patiently parked behind a school bus in my neighborhood while 20 or so middle schoolers piled in heading to school. It was absolutely freezing outside. The temperature hovered around 34 degrees, it was drizzling and the wind was whipping making it feel a whole lot colder than it actually was.

And… there they were… nearly every teenage boy was wearing shorts and a hoodie. No coat. No gloves. No scarf. Nothing to keep them warm. Just a pair of thin shorts and a fleece hoodie.

I mean, come on… aren’t they freezing their tails off? Aren’t they shivering? Aren’t they wishing they put a few extra layers on?

Even my own son, on more mornings than I can count, ventured off to school in a lightweight hoodie. When I offered up the suggestion, “Soooo, it’s really cold out this morning. You might want to think about wearing a coat,” all I’d get in return was an eye-roll at the mere mention of the idea and a “Nope, I’m good.”

My daughters are pretty much the same way. They’re big fans of hoodies on freezing days and they don’t think twice about leaving the house on a Friday night in the dead of winter wearing a crop top. “Don’t worry… I’m fine,” they’d say. Really??? How can they be “fine?”

…. So, parents, FINALLY the mystery of why your teenager (and pretty much every other teenager on the planet) chooses to leave their coat buried in the back of their closet is solved. Here’s the REAL reason teenagers won’t wear coats, according to teenagers. (Heads up… it’s not just one reason.)

With every parent screaming “FINE… freeze then!” when their kid walks out the door totally underdressed, this might offer some peace of mind.

It turns out there’s some truth to this! According to an article in the Washington Post, “The metabolic rates for kids up through their teens are higher than those of most adults, and so are their activity levels. As a result, kids tend to generate more heat than adults do.” Experts say, if your kids skip the coat, at least encourage them to wear a hat and gloves, which will prevent frostbite and keep heat from escaping from their head. (Ummm… good luck with that.)

… Coats are bulky and a big pain to carry around in school. A lot of high schoolers either don’t have a locker (or choose not to have one) which means they have to carry their coat around all day in addition to their back backpack. And, for the middle and high schoolers that do have a locker, shoving a big, bulky, puffy coat into a small locker can be a serious challenge. …

You know when your now big kid was a toddler and they had to have their comfy “blankie” before they could drift off to sleep? Well, it turns out, for some teenagers, their cozy hoodie provides the same emotional comfort. Hoodies are like a security blanket for big kids.

… It doesn’t matter how comfortable a coat is, apparently it’s no match to a soft, worn-in fleece hoodie. Plus, according to teens, the more you wear your favorite hoodies, the comfier they get. And, since most teens wear their hoodies oversized, they can scoot their hands in the sleeves and stay toasty while they desperately try to stay awake during their teacher’s boring history lecture.

… Some teenagers claim they’ve lost more coats than they can count, so why bother? Especially when there’s no chance of losing their hoodie since they never (or rarely) take it off.

As much as teens say they don’t care about fitting in, a lot of them actually do care. In fact, they care a lot. And, who can blame them? No one wants to be the odd man out. … They’d rather be cold than stand out like a sore thumb in the crowd.

… Buckle up and just ride this one out. If you’re really concerned about them freezing in frigid temps, encourage them to layer under their hoodie and wear a hat and gloves. But, don’t be surprised if they roll their eyes and sigh heavily.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.