I have a 16 year old that loves to skate. However, skating will ruin your shoes, put holes in them and also the socks. My son is wearing the same shoe over and over again which has a big hole in the bottom of the shoe as well as on the side. I asked him not to wear those anymore since it is embarrassing to walk around like this in public. His answer to this is that he doesn't care what other people think and that I shouldn't either. I always taught him not to care what other people think, but in this case I feel different. I need help with a good explanation on why to look a little more put together in school or in public.

  • 41
    Invest in some Shoe Goo. It can be applied to the outside of new skate shoes in multiple thin layers as a protective. As the grip tape scrapes it away, reapply. For heavily damaged shoes place a layer of duct tape inside the shoe to cover holes and then apply goo outside. Shape uncured goo using an ice cube (yes really). It also works decent as a contact adhesive to reattach separated soles. I say this as a former 16 year old skater with ratty shoes and now parent.
    – jscott
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 23:00
  • 47
    Is your objection really only about appearances? If so, I have to say I think your son is right. Seems a bit hypocritical to teach him not to care about appearances and then object to his appearance. Regarding holey shoes in particular, my own concern as a parent would be more about his feet getting wet or injured through the holes, and the subsequent health issues that might create.
    – Steve-O
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 15:37
  • 33
    If this is your only issue with a 16-year old teenager, you should consider yourself a very happy parent :-D Commented May 31, 2017 at 15:55
  • 17
    "I always taught him not to care what other people think, but in this case I feel different." Perhaps your training should have made more clear what the exceptions are to this rule. (Nobody cares what other people think if you don't include all the occasions when they do)
    – user11347
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 16:03
  • 9
    When I was around 16 I as well rode the skateboard. The shoe thing was a part of an identification "ohh he is also a skater, he must also be cool!".
    – Olba12
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 19:33

15 Answers 15


"I always taught him not to care what other people think..."

Then congratulations! You have achieved one of your parenting goals. It's a pretty good goal, and will often stand him in good stead in resisting peer pressure, advertising and the allure of material things, etc.

I understand you are embarrassed, but in your place, I would ask myself why I was embarrassed, and if this concern truly overrides my respect for my son's choices. If it doesn't, perhaps you can drop it with peace in your mind that this is part of his becoming an adult.

If your concern outweighs your respect for this particular choice, start teaching your son the fine art of negotiation. Have a respectful conversation and ask him what in exchange he would be willing to give up his holey shoes for. If it's important to you, you should be able to come up with something he'll value enough to give up his feet-related freedom for. I can't guess what that is... maybe a new skate(board?) or tickets to a concert or play he'd like to see?

Life will be full of such negotiations. This will be good practice for him; making sure he keeps up his end of the bargain will also teach him about integrity.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 6:21

This sounds like a 'perfect rebellion' to me. Your teen is very nearly an adult and could be making other choices that really could be much worse than holey shoes.

Part of the growing up process is rebelling and opposing parental views. You are 'not cool'. It is not your job to be cool!

Continue to complain bitterly and perhaps insist on 'proper' footwear for certain events or visitors, but otherwise this is great. So much better than breaking curfew or smoking.

Allow for natural consequences like -- wet feet when it rains, or ridicule from that person he's attracted to.

As for your embarrassment -- any parent with a teen or who was a teen :wink: knows that you are not dressing your child. It's reasonable to expect that he shows respect for some events or places but imo, on his own time let him be.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented May 31, 2017 at 12:45

Why are so many people failing to consider the peer pressure and the cultural aspects here and basically advising the mother to make her son the odd one out? Notice the skater teens in your own town around you.

OP, If you're going to a fancy place or a family gathering explain to him adult to adult that you'd love for him to wear something appropriate for the occasion.

But if he's outside with his friends, then certainly don't force him to change just because you see it fit especially if you'll never be around to admire the better looking shoes. Instead notice the style and clothing of his skater buddies, see how their clothes look similar to your sons and how their shoes too have holes and would be considered embarrassing by an adult.

It's just the style and culture of that particular activity.

Don't make your son wear a coat just because you're cold.

  • 10
    I joined the site to upvote your question. How does everyone fail to see this: Shiny new shoes are exactly as embarrassing for a skater boy as shoes with holes in them are embarrassing for his parents. Commented May 31, 2017 at 19:04
  • 6
    @Roman Reiner I didn't have a problem with shiny shoes per say. Just that skating rips your shoes apart, so it doesn't make sense to skate in shoes that you'd wear elsewhere. As a skater it's not like we had this fashion sense mocking prim and proper. We wore ripped up clothes and shoes because we skated after school. When I wasn't planning on skating, I wasn't really wearing chopped up clothes. There really wasn't a whole lot of thought behind it. The damage was incidental, not deliberate or a style.
    – Kai Qing
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 22:55
  • 2
    One trick in my days of skating was a little leather flap, attached to the shoe by having the lace go through holes in it. I see there's now an actual product, called Ollie Flap. It protects the side of the shoe that scrapes along the griptape when ollieing.
    – SQB
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 7:16
  • @SQB - And now we both see an invention we both basically had in our days that could have made us rich. If only, huh? I still think I'd go with duct tape. Grip tape tore through leather shoes fine. I dont think an $8 flap would out perform a $3 roll of tape. Good invention though. clearly a demand for it
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 21:34

I can't say much for "why to look a little more put together in school or in public" exactly because I think if he takes advise from other skaters he may find that you don't need to destroy your shoe while skating.

I used to skate when I was much much younger and I remember the total destruction of my shoe. If he's like most skaters, it's usually only one shoe that gets trashed. If he's any good at skating, he may trash both but almost always one more than the other. The grip tape causes this when you do tricks. My parents weren't too happy about my going through shoes quickly so I had to figure out how to not ruin them.

I kept a roll of duct tape with me when I would skate. Yeah, you go through duct tape quickly but not nearly as fast as shoes, and you can take it off when you aren't skating. I rolled a couple layers around the toe of the forward facing foot. That kept the side from ripping open. You may have to actually watch him skate to know if he is stopping from rolling with the base of his shoe, skidding the tail to slow down, or just kind of hopping off. Some people drag their shoe to slow down and that will be difficult to prevent damage, as well as break that habit. Point is, I kept my shoes from being an eyesore by deflecting the damage to something a little more cost effective, and only wore the tape when I was skating. See if he would be willing to give that a shot. Duct tape comes in a variety of styles these days, and never got in the way of skating. It doesn't change how effective you are, your ability to push off, etc. He doesn't have much of an argument for not trying it out unless his friends straight up ridicule him to his face. Most of my friends wore duct tape too because none of us actually want our shoes to disintegrate off our feet. It's not like it's the cool thing these days to look like your shoe exploded.

  • 3
    Good to have input from an actual skater. My advice for OP was going to be, "Have you considered offering to buy him actual skating shoes?" but I don't know how useful that would really be; you'd know better than I.
    – Wildcard
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 6:02
  • 1
    Skating shoes are not really designed any differently than most shoes. At least they weren't in my day. I mean, maybe there was a little more padding on the toe, but they totally just fell apart like any others. Not many people doing tricks were wearing things like those canvas converse or other shoes that would probably be ruined after the first day. But a regular Nike basketball shoe, Adidas running shoe, etc - they all lasted the same as the Enties and Vans Half Cabs we were wearing commonly.
    – Kai Qing
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 21:06

If there is really a hole through the bottom, give him a logical reason like you could step on a nail or bee.

Otherwise, be glad he isn't asking for new $200 shoes constantly.

Kids in my area damage their shoes on purpose so their parents will buy them new shoes sooner.


As someone who used to skate (though not very well), the more torn up your shoes, especially the dominant foot, the more you skate. It was kind of like a badge of honor. The same reason a football player wears a Letterman jacket, which I'm guessing most parents would rather see their children wearing than trashed sneakers. The trashed shoes are a way to show people you skate even when you don't have a board with you. It's part of a skaters identity, which is important, because even though skating gets no real recognition from schools, and the "adult" world it is something to be proud of. In my opinion skating is much harder, and takes much more grit, than something like football or basketball, and therefore skaters deserve to be recognized even if all they have to show for it is a shoe with a major hole on the side. Sounds like your son is proud of being a skater.

  • To add, basically the shoe is another part of the skate equipment, similar to a worn in glove for a baseball/softball player. A new pair may not have the same feel as the old pair. Also, having well-worn skate shoes show that you actually skate and aren't a "poser". Although if you're really into skateboarding, you'll probably want to replace them at some point when they really break down. Commented May 31, 2017 at 20:03
  • True, although I personally would wear my new pair solely for skating, and the keep the old pair as street shoes. So the shoes most people saw me in were always a mess.
    – Mwspencer
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 20:58

I agree with @Willow on this. There are far worse things he could be doing.

But if you want to go on the attack about this, remind him that there are some people's opinions he should care about. That girl he wants to ask out? Looking nice could go a long way. The manager opposite him in a job interview? Ya, their opinion matters. Etc, etc. Yes, most people's opinion of him ultimately doesn't matter. But that doesn't mean that everyone's opinion is irrelevant.

Hopefully he learns from you. Or he will learn the hard way. His choice.

  • 2
    but those are not opinions one should necessarily care about! they're definitely worth being aware of, and aware of the consequences of, but not necessarily that one should value. Dating someone you don't have a chance with unless you change your appearance isn't such a good idea. Working at a job where you have to dress in a way that makes you uncomfortable doesn't strike me as a good idea either.
    – user371366
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 1:11
  • 1
    @dn3s Out of all 100% of girls (or jobs) available you eliminate 95% in the first step, so you have less to choose from in all your next steps. You've decreased your own possibilities. But at least you didn't have to change your appearance.
    – kubanczyk
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 7:10
  • 4
    @kubanczyk ideally, you've eliminated the 95% of bad choices. Just because it's a possibility doesn't mean it's worth it.
    – Erik
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 9:32
  • @dn3s Dressing nicely to make a good first impression tends to be a good idea. It might not be that clothing is that important to them, it might just give them an initial bad impression that you have to work to change, as opposed to an initial good impression, or how you dress is enough to push you over the edge one way or the other.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 9:41
  • 9
    He's a teen, dating teens. That girl he wants to ask out probably thinks he looks super cool in his trashed skater clothes. I know I would have.
    – Summer
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 11:14

Help him find him a job.

Currently there is no consequence to people forming opinions about him. That anyone can see he is a skater works well for him; the people who's opinions he cares for approve it. And others disliking it gratifies a rebellious urge.

So find him some people who want something else, and have something he wants. If he gets rejected a few times he may catch the lesson, and if he gets hired in almost any job it will be quickly apparent presentation matters.

Money is very addictive.

  • 8
    Just be careful that the kid isn't actually really good at what he does, because I have a very good job and I still wear shoes with holes in them.
    – Erik
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 9:33

thank you for telling me not to care what other people say. So I was able to develop my own style.

Other people that where people outside my family. But I'm getting an adult now and being responsible of my own life means that parents are considered as other people. Don't be afraid, I'm trying this out with my shoes. And when this will work I'll get a girlfriend, a job and children of my own. I will ask for your opinion in most cases, but remember I was taught to act independently from other people.

And I will do so!

Love, however is not shown by taking your opinion or advice.

Love is the interest in your opinion or advice.


Your son

  • Are you really OP's son? Your shoes don't seem all that bad, in your profile picture! :)
    – xDaizu
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 11:47
  • No! I'm not;-) Just using it as a style. I guess a skateboard will break when I try it, regardless of the shoes ;-) Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 5:48

Instead of trying to convince him to do something about this, why not simply ask him to wear a dedicated set of shoes for skate boarding, so that he doesnt ruin his every day shoes? They do after all make skateboarding shoes explicitly with this in mind.


Asking him not to wear the shoes might give him greater desire to wear the shoes if he's a bit rebellious (speaking from my own experience of being nagged about doing things I was planning on doing anyway leading me to not doing said things, and being frustrated with myself over it).

Instead, mention some possible consequences and let him come around on his own or just live with the consequences of his decision. An important part of this is emphasising that he's free to make his own decision and dropping the subject completely after having one level-headed conversation about it - if you keep bringing it up, it will have a negative impact no matter how you approach it (also avoid any variation of "I told you so" or blaming him if something does happen).

Two primary consequences come to mind:

  • Depending on the nature of the hole, it could turn stepping on certain sharp things from what would've been hardly noticeable with a good shoe into a trip to the emergency room.

  • While it's good to not really care what the general public think of you, one should consider the opinions of potential friends, girlfriends or employers, or even a person of authority (e.g. a teacher or police officer) who you may want to give you the benefit of the doubt if ever needed.

    It might not be that your clothing is that important to them, but it might just give them an initial bad impression that you have to work to change, as opposed to an initial good or neutral impression, or how you dress is enough to push you over the edge one way or the other i.t.o getting that date or job, for example.

  • It's likely that potential friends and girlfriends will prefer the current look over the cleaner one. They are more like him than like the his parents, after all.
    – Erik
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 12:20

Look at it as a fashion statement.

Like ripped jeans, with holes made at the factory. Ripped shoes are pretty much same thing. There is no reason to feel embarrassed, feel proud of being fashion avant-garde.


I want to add a perspective that doesn't seem to have been included in the responses yet. Up until my late 20's I actually would wear shoes far beyond death, like sole coming off...several large holes in the sides and the sole worn through the rubber into the foam. Not from a skating cultural reason or anything, though I did eventually start wearing skate shoes because they were incredibly comfortable.

I just HATED shopping for shoes because I was used to shopping for shoes with my mother...which was an ORDEAL. Not saying that's how you shop but that's how my mom did it and it left me loath to admit I needed new shoes just to avoid having to go shopping.

It's worth trying the 5-Whys or 7-Whys or whatever method to figure out the root reason he's insisting on wearing worn-out shoes. IE, is it keeping the old shoes or not wanting to get new shoes as was my case.


Well, my initial thought is to have a discussion about the purpose of footwear, primarily for safety. Avoiding cuts on the feet (especially the feet!) is particularly important as a human being. However, that's not your stated reason for this unhappiness.

I asked him not to wear those anymore since it is embarrassing to walk around like this in public. ... I need help with a good explanation on why to look a little more put together in school or in public.

The disconnect your son has, which you feel uncomfortable about but can't explain logically given your "don't care about what other's think" values is that while you and your son might not care about what others think, you do both still have to abide by common dress standards and dress codes.

You can't attend a typical opera in a bathing suit. You generally don't go do manual labor in a tuxedo.

Clothing is, in his mind, utilitarian.

So the shoes are simply tools, and as long as they still "work" then there's no need, in his mind, to replace them.

However you recognize that when he's not skating, and you are running around town, the shoes are not longer serving their purpose, they aren't working to protect his feet (and socks!) from the environment, including inclement weather, broken glass, etc that you may have to traverse.

So the primary argument you may be able to use is an explanation of the need for footwear that is in good repair for certain travels. Perhaps the skate park doesn't present the hazards you run into during your day. He doesn't skate when it's raining, the park is maintained and clean so he doesn't have to worry about sharp objects on the ground. However these are things you may have to deal with when running around elsewhere, and so the skating shoes are entirely inappropriate for the purpose.

So consider changing the conversation from "Let's replace those ratty shoes" to "You have to wear different shoes when you aren't skating."

This may involve some planning, he won't want to carry the skate shoes with you when skating might overlap with your activities, and you'll occasionally just have to live with him wearing ratty shoes. With some planning and prodding, though, you may both be able to reach an agreement that resolves this issue most of the time, and as a bonus you'll probably end up spending less on shoes overall.


I think the "don't care what people think" rule was communicated or understood too literally. It appeals to a certain rebellious teenage spirit but reality is more nuanced than that. Some thoughts on why I think that situation is different.

Clothing is communication. You dress in a certain way at, for example, a funeral to communicate a certain message. No matter what you wear, you are communicating something and if you choose to show up at a certain place dressed in damaged shows, your are communicating your rebellious spirit. That might be appropriate in some places but not in all and there will be prices to pay.

Dressing well when you meet someone is a sign of respect to the person you're meeting. If I take the trouble to clean myself up and look good before presenting myself in front of someone, it's a clear suggestion that I care sufficiently about that persons opinion to want to look good for them. I'm sure your son has some people he cares about and his sartorial choices would be different in front of them. Perhaps in minor ways (adjusting hair etc.) but it will be.

Dressing well is a sign of respect to those who do care about what you look like in public. My spouse would feel quite sad if I presented myself badly groomed. This a valid social consideration and giving up your perceived individuality for the opinion of someone you care about is a worthwhile compromise.

  • 1
    This seems to rule in favor of the kid wearing what he wears, given that the people he hangs with likely care that he looks the way he does, not the way the parents want him to look.
    – Erik
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 12:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .