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Taking the Plunge

Well, here’s a lovely dilemma filed under “I never imagined having these conversations”:

My partner and I have decided we need to be the grown-ups and not be so fearful for our son. Gathering wisdom from innumerable sources, we think it’s best to let our little gender-nonconformist break the ice and wear some skirts to school.

My rationale comes from three arguments:

  1. What’s most important is he love himself and not feel his self-expression is anything shameful to be hidden.
  2. That he knows we always, always, always have his back and love him, unconditionally.
  3. There will be haters everywhere in life, no matter if he dresses in skirts or roots for the Yankees or has a funny walk. The sooner he knows issues 1&2 will help us all deal with the consequences of #3 and we can choose, together, how to address it all.

Also? We aren’t making history, here. Boys from Arkansas to Arizona are already going to school in dresses. We need to calm the F down.

But as we’ve done a bit of back-to-school shopping (yes, we don’t go back until Sept 7th, so we aren’t back in school, yet), I’ve found myself still trying to control the situation. And here’s the rub of this blog entry.

My son is preternaturally drawn to all things pink/sparkles/Barbie.

Now, it’s one thing for a boy to take a stand and rock a kilt with combat boots and an ironic “Brony” t-shirt*. But there’s nothing ironic about my son’s love for all things pink/sparkles/Barbie. He would wear a polyester pink princess dress to school, replete with chincy plastic princess kitten heels, if we let him.

But that’s where I gotta put my foot down.

“Buddy, I know a little something about style, even though you think all I wear is jeans and t-shirts. And, well, that’s true. But trust me – I know what’s cool, and I can help you look awesome rocking a dark skirt and ‘Brony’ t-shirt.”

He actually trusts me (for better or worse) in this approach.

I don’t know if he’s just humoring me and thrilled that we’ve relented (somewhat) with our blessing to wear skirts twice a week to school.

But it’s begun a discussion of what’s “cool” and “funky” in our household.

And, like the ever-wavering cliché Libra that I am, I immediately question my own judgment.

I don’t want my child to become a slave of what’s “cool” or “funky”.

But seriously – won’t life be easier if I guide him down the path of cultural taste, rather than leave him to dress himself like a bird adorning his nest with tinsel and sparkly trash? Or the crab in Moana?

Is it wrong to influence his fashion sense with strong suggestions (as in: I buy it, so I decide) of what he can and can’t wear?

The psychology of fashion is very interesting to me – not the slaves of trends and capitalistic consumerism, but really the psychology of dressing yourself to feel empowered and attractive with wardrobe that commands respect and admiration.

And who am I to say pink/sparkle/Barbie isn’t respectful or strong or admirable?

 

Anyway, I’ve created a monster – in myself. But for the moment, despite my seemingly debilitating insecurity in my own parenting decisions, herein, I feel fine guiding my son toward “rocking” a skirt, rather than “donning” a dress.

Because let’s face it ; life’s easier for the cool.

I hate myself for writing that.

Oh, and as for taking the plunge with skirts at school? Yeah. Here we go. Wish us luck. Any suggestions? Fashionista, emotional or otherwise? Indubitably, I’ll be reporting back.

* “Bros” who dig “My Little Pony”. Yes. It’s a thing.

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I'm a father of two young boys living in New York and trying to cope with style and humor. I've founded a baby gear company, "E.C. Knox" catering to stylish dads.

23 Comments

  1. magdareis says

    Excelentes palavras “A psicologia da moda é muito interessante para mim – e não os escravos de tendências e consumismo capitalista, mas realmente a psicologia de vestir-se sentir habilitada e atraente, com guarda-roupa que impõe respeito e admiração.”
    Parabéns pelo conteúdo
    planodetoxemagrecemesmo.com.br

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joel Hatch says

    It’s a great life lesson! Some outfits are for play and some are for serious business like learning. We all do it every day.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Molly says

    It’s hard to know the right way to coach your child in these decisions. We made the decision that our son could dress however he liked at home and we would celebrate it. Our explanation was that some people won’t understand it at school and while that is their problem, we might not want to deal with their problem right now. Since our son was shy and didn’t like to be the center of attention, we thought it best to reduce the chances of negative attention. he got enough of it even dressing like a boy because it was apparent from an early age that he was gay or at least gender nonconforming. He’s 14 now and loves drag and does better make up than I do. Of course, context is everything. We are in Texas so you can imagine what we’re up against. If we were in NY, we might have seen this differently. I think you guys are doing a great job with honesty and authenticity and love for your child.

    Like

    • Argh, Molly!!! I’m so sorry it took me so long to respond to you. Thanks for reading and commenting. See? Sounds like your kiddo is proudly expressing himself, “despite” not wearing dresses to school. Good call on your part. So far, so good, for us. We are lucky to live where we do. But this generation is so open-minded, it seems. And you and your son are the pioneers for my little one. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

      Like

  4. Chris main says

    This measured approach feels right. You are providing guidance but at the same
    time you are relinquishing some control. I agree the child is too young to dress
    any which way his whims dictate. He has to earn freedom that by showing he can handle
    the reactions of other children, some of whom might be jerks….and there will be some pain but
    we all have to learn how to accept negative feedback and it’s probably time to start.
    And too, the longer you wait on the skirt thing, the greater will become its significance
    and thus the more will be invested in how the other kids react. If that makes sense.
    I’m not approving or disapproving of your techniques but I can say I’d probably handle
    it that same way (frankly, I don’t have the
    expertise to know what’s “right” but then, who does?)

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You two Dads are the best! And your self reflection is admirable (gotta love a Libra who can see all the sides to every situation). Do report back; you’re making good decisions (fashion choices affect us all… there’s no escape)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Have you warned him some kids might tease him and let him decide with this in mind if he’s still wanting to wear a skirt? If he’s feeling okay about some teasing then it will be a better day for him

    Like

    • You’re exactly right. The first priority is him knowing I have his back. Next, we can deal with the haters, because they’ll always be there. And he’s definitely letting the judgments rolls off his back. There’ll be more, down the line, I’m sure. But it’s all good, for now.

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  7. I have no clue. I’ve been mothering and parenting and making mistakes for 29 years now and I don’t have a word of advice for you. I don’t think there is an easy answer because it’s such uncharted territory still? So whatever any of us decide to do, sort of all comes under the heading of Let’s Try This…. and we’ll see how it goes.

    My 6 year old wants to wear nail polish so badly. And after trying and failing to get his dad on board, we have finally given up. And I am boycotting nail polish myself until he can wear it too. His dad’s reasoning is the “he’ll get made fun of.” Even though my 13 year old wears nail polish, other boys do too, boys dye their hair pink in my 13’s school, but my ex’s only response is “well they shouldn’t.” He’s very old school and a bit homophobic I believe. So we struggle with similar.

    I have settled for telling my 6 that he should be able to wear nail polish, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s being creative jesus christ, but that daddy for whatever reason has strong feelings on the matter so for the time being, we are respecting daddy’s feelings.

    When he gets old enough he will tell his dad to go fuck himself lol on these matters and his dad isn’t going to be able to stop him, I hate to tell him. But it’s frustrating and I don’t like the message it sends either. Kids should be able to explore what they want with regards to clothes etc. Gender narrow mindedness is no longer appropriate for our day and age. We know enough to know better by now.

    I look forward to hearing how this one goes! Your son sounds like a natural born leader already.

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    • I’m so sorry it took so long to respond to your comment, here. I read it a month ago and then became more ADD than my kiddo. I admire your ability to respectt dad’s wishes. I mean – a family is a team, and it works better when everyone’s on the same page. And it’s not a democracy, either, but maybe sometimes it is. I dunno – I ask myself, “Is this a reflection of my kid or a reflection of myself? Who cares if he wears nail polish ( or a dress or long hair or whatever?)” It’s tough to teach someone to look inside for the strength to face demons ,as a I suspect your husband *might* need.
      We’re all so afraid of judgement. One way I’ve tried to coat my kiddo is to own who and what he is. If he’s wearing nail polish and someone says “Hey! you’re wearing nail polish?!!?” I’ve coached him to say, “yep”. Own it. It’s not a judgment or mockery. If you just own it, “Yep, I’m a boy and I like wearing dresses,” or “Yep, I’m wearing nail polish”, or (eventually) “Yep. I’m gender non-conforming” I think it takes the power away from the judge. They’re the ones feeling insecure. Just identifying it, owning it, and moving forward, SEEMS like the strongest approach to me.
      But this is still unchartered territory, frankly.
      Never easy. I hope you’re doing well. Hang in there and please keep in touch! You’re not alone. 🙂

      Like

  8. Pingback: Taking the Plunge – Kaleidoscope of Faces

  9. Kids seem to be less judgmental of each other than we adults are. They are accepting of so much. Because they are being born more evolved than we were or are now.

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