Aug 8, 2013

Do You Let Your Kids Be Themselves?

From now on when confronted with a rude question from anyone my response is going to be, why do you want to know? I've decided that my kids don't need to see me getting angry at strangers or friends when they ask a question that deserves a slap in the face. Instead, I'm going to put them on the defense and make them explain why they want to know. Perhaps they'll realize the error of their ways and retract the question.

This new somewhat Zen-like philosophy was not helpful today at the gym.

A little background on one aspect of my parenting philosophy is that unless my kids are dressed inappropriate, they can dress themselves. If they don't match, that's fine by me. Long sleeves in the summer, that's fine as long as they wear shorts with it. I'm not going to fight them on this, it's just clothes.

My son started dressing himself recently. Like the majority of 3 year old kids, my son has no idea what matches and what clashes. This is how he dressed himself today.


I told him his shirt was on backwards and he informed that it wasn't.

"Mommy, I want the skulls on the back so it's not wrong!" 

How can you argue with that logic?

We arrive at the gym and I have just enough time to sign in the kids and drop off my stuff in the locker room before my class started. One of the women in the gym childcare center in the most condescending manner said that I clearly was in such a hurry this morning since I didn't notice that my son's shirt was on backwards. And in true passive aggressive fashion her comment was directed at my son and not at me.

I decided to engage her passive aggressive behavior since clearly I will never learn. I told her what Mark said about his shirt she had the nerve to ask me

Why do you let your son dress like that? 

There were so many things that I wanted to say in response. But instead, I asked her why she wanted to know.

It did not shut her up!

She asked again and said don't you worry about what people think of him?

Instead of showing my anger, I smiled and said

I allow my child to be himself, even if it makes the insecure people around him uncomfortable. 

And then I went to Body Combat and pictured that woman as my opponent. And I took that witch down!

But it really makes me wonder why so many people are so willing to crush the unique spirit of a child? Spend time in a child's world and you'll see magic and excitement around every corner. They are learning how to express themselves, so let them! Before you know it, they'll follow fashion trends and demand to dress like their friends and designer clothes. This window of individuality is only open for a nanosecond. Embrace it! Love it! Be the nurturer that your child needs! Don't place your insecurities on your child! They'll have plenty of their own one day, they don't need yours too.



Do you let your kids dress themselves? Why or why not?

15 comments:

  1. Once my son shows interest in picking out his own clothes sure I'll definitely let him pick. Right now he shows no interest in it. :) there's no point in making our children lil fashion robots haha :)

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  2. I definitely feel like it's important to let kids have the opportunity to be themselves. They need chances to develop their independence and shape their own preferences.

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  3. I have boys and they don't care what I put out for them but if they want to wear something I let them! The other day my son wanted to wear his new sweatshirt we got at the store and was walking around in it, I was sweating just watching him but he was happy so I let him wear it. I heard a lady passing by saying some snide comment that he "shouldn't be allowed" to wear it. Oh I'm sorry is your name on his Birth certificate? No, it's not? Ok then HUSH! Some people, I can't believe she said that. I would have said much worse back to her! I do however like what you said back very good! Some people really upset me!

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    1. I'm just amazed that people care what other people's kids are wearing. And I agree, unless you helped me make this kid, you don't get an opinion.

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  4. WOW that lady has nerve!! I love that my 2 year old Granddaughter has a style all of her own!! Some people just love to try and make others miserable.

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  5. Some people are way too nosy! My 3yr old always has his clothes on backwards. I gave up on arguing with him on proper attire. LOL

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  6. To most people outside our family, it can look like my son has behavioral issues. However he has SPD(a neurological disorder, he is a sensory seeker and constantly NEEDS his senses satisfied) and we are doing everything he needs done for him. Thankfully we haven't run into someone saying anything yet but my first reaction would probably be tears because of how long it took to finally get an answer and help for him, and then anger for the extra hours of parenting and learning we have put in, much more than we thought.

    I would never judge any parent on how their child acted or what they wore because at the end of the day I'm not going home with that child. I don't know what makes them happy, and that should be all that matters.

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    1. Mark has SPD too so I hear you on the pain of getting a diagnosis and then figuring out how to deal with it.

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  7. The only time I put my foot down on what my kids wear is when we are doing family pictures :) Other than that, anything goes. You want to wear your superman cape and mask to the grocery store? Be my guest. In fact the other day, I took a fully dressed princess and superman to the store --- we got a lot of looks but most people were amused. Honestly, what's the fun of being 3 if you can't dress up every once in awhile? My son doesn't care much for dressing himself but my daughter changes about 4 times a day, and rarely into anything matching. Who cares? Not worth the fight or the time, if she's happy, I'm happy. I'm with you, momma. Such a small window of letting them be unconformists - we should all embrace it! And that woman needed a good smack by the way. :)

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    1. I always laugh when I see a kid dressed as a ballerina or in a crazy outfit. I love knowing that they are dressed exactly the way the want to be. I put my foot down for family pictures too. Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand.

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  8. I always let them dress themselves. My daughter went through a phase of intentionally wearing unmatched socks. She loved it and it expressed her individuality. As long as they are safe, why not let kids have some control over their choices?
    I love your response to stupid questions. My problem is that I am usually so shocked that the question was asked that I can't come up with my response quickly enough!

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    1. Unfortunately, with three kids so close in age I get so many comments that the shock has worn off. My 5 year old is going through the intentional mismatched socks phase right now. She reminds me a little of Punky Brewster and I think it's pretty cute!

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  9. I find children that dress themselves in wild combinations delightful. My son struggled with dressing himself (and oh my glob! buttons...we hated buttons) for years. But, I would not discourage any effort on his part. Clothes on backward. Fine by me. Orange Sweatpants and a purple sweater. Yay to bold choices!

    I think your new technique for handling nosy know-nothings is great. Myself, I like to use the long, penetrating stare that lets that person know they have overstepped. If they continue blabbing something moronic like don't I care what other people think, I usually reply in a very calm tone, that I never care what other people think, especially the venomous thoughts of people that would judge a child.

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    1. I've been known to use the what is wrong with you death stare myself. I find it to be very effective when I'm too speechless to find the right words to say.

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  10. My son is almost 6 and my daughter is almost 4. They like to pretend that they are twins and constantly ask me why they can't be. I let them dress themselves with 2 rules. It has to be weather appropriate (yes you can wear a sun dress in January but pick out a sweater and tights) and it has to be clean (yes you can wear your Thomas shirt 5 days in a row IF you do laundry). Sometimes I make suggestions (do you think a tulle princess dress is the best thing to wear to go tree climbing with your cousins?) but they choose if they should take my suggestions.

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