Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Clothes Kids Wear

It's not about what we want, it's about who our children are.

In a recent online exchange a mother expressed her concern over her child wearing the same clothes two days in a row. Upon reflection she realized that this stemmed from her worries about what other people would think: what the teacher would think about her as a parent and what her child's classmates would think. 

My perspective?  Nothing is more important than my relationship with my child, particularly not clothes, and decidedly not what "other people" will think. What other people think about me or my child is never more important than my child's sense of self and their ability to express that sense of self with confidence. 

I recognize that what other people think may ultimately affect how my child feels, particularly if those people are narrow minded, vocal in their negativity, and generally insensitive toward children.. 

And because of that I would suggest that if every parent supported their child in expressing them self, the social norm would be acceptance of diversity and self expression.

I had a daughter go to kindergarten with pink streaks in her hair and wearing all pink clothing, while another daughter chose to consistently wear her favorite color: blue. My oldest, at that age, only wore dresses, and favored the color purple. We support our kids in wearing what makes them feel comfortable, in their clothes and as a person. Starting when they can express an opinion in what they wear, a smile at pink, tears about itchy tags, grabbing for one item rather than another when dad holds up two shirts and asks, "Do you want to wear the red shirt or the green shirt today?" we need to respect our kids' choices in what they wear. 

If we do this, then our kids are more likely to respect other people's choices in what they wear. 

My girls came home from a trip to Disney World with the grandparents with many memories: meeting face characters, riding rides, eating amazing food. One story they shared with awesome enthusiasm: there was a boy, who might have been 12, dressed as Minnie Mouse, wearing a princess sash! They thought he was so cool. (One of my daughters has pointed out that we don't know if this child identifies as a boy. Her concern that we might offend someone by assuming a gender is a reminder that my kids have taught me most of what I know about raising allies.)

If you are a parent who worries about what others will think please know that if your child is wearing an outfit they love it will show in they way they walk through life. If you kid goes to the grocery store wearing their tutu, Batman costume, rainbow colored hair, or their footie pajamas with rain boots, the glow of your child is going to make someone smile and someone is going to think you are a pretty awesome parent! Focus on that person, and smile big at anyone who frowns in your direction. 

Blogs and articles relating to raising gender non-conforming or gender creative children:

It's O.K. To Be Neither: Teaching That Supports Gender-Variant Children 

HERE is a list of Supportive Books & Media for Gender Variant/Non-conforming Kids  

1 comment:

  1. I love this. Unfortunately, I found myself changing my son's mind the other day about his oufit. All because my adult mind knew it didn't match and I didn't want people giving him weird looks.