The embarrassment, the tears, the excitement—and that’s just how you feel! Here’s how to get through one of the most landmine-filled moments of parenting a tween girl.

By Alice Kaltman
Updated February 01, 2018
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Shopping for your daughter's first bra is a bonding moment you may look forward to, but the experience can be as nerve-wracking as a psycho thriller. See, by the time her developing breasts need some propping up, your daughter is a hormone-fueled, walking, talking bundle of self-consciousness and insecurity. She may say she wants a bra (and the boobs to go in it), or she may say she wants nothing to do with it, even after she clearly needs to wear something under her T-shirt. Here’s how to survive this epic moment together.

Roy McMahon/Getty Images


She may hunch her shoulders, glare, and roll her eyes, but don’t take it personally. Try to be as empathetic as possible. Deep breath. Detach, detach, detach. This isn’t about you, it is about the big P—puberty!


Be as generous as you can within your budget. Well-constructed bras can cost a pretty penny. But don’t go overboard and set your girl up to think a supportive bra means spending big bucks forever.


If possible, go to a store with an expert fitter. That way, you can let another woman bear the brunt of telling your daughter what really works. She won’t mind the eye-rolling—she’s paid to take the heat.


Once your daughter’s size is established, be prepared to buy at least two bras: one that’s sensible, comfy, and well-made, another that’s sweet, lacy, and (dare I say…) a wee bit sexy. Grin and bear it. Let your daughter chose both. If tensions flare, call back the bra-expert for impartial opinions (and to break up any headlocks). And don’t forget the matching undies.


If she’s stoked, be as enthusiastic as she is, but don’t go overboard. If she’s quiet, be quiet, too. Leave the store without any chatter. Let her initiate any post-bra-shopping talk, but be prepared if there’s none.


While you may prefer it if she only wears the plain, modest, cotton bra to school, let her do whatever makes her comfortable. If she wants to wear that lacy pink bra under her school uniform or soccer uniform, don't worry. Remember: 12-year-old boys can’t tell the difference between the outline of an athletic camisole and a red push-up bra, as long as the shirt concealing it stays on. So perhaps this is a good time to initiate that talk about sexual boundaries. And you thought bra shopping was hard?