A while back I recognized a major flaw in my parenting. In letting C.J explore gender, I forgot to set the same boundaries for my feminine son that I would have set for a female child — especially when it comes to clothing, accessories and outward appearance.
I wrote about this revelation for Yahoo! Parenting.
I hope you’ll read it!
I am not sure I fully agree with dress codes. It is probably mostly lack of experience has I’m parenting toddlers not tweens or teens,but I have to admit that the ides of prohibiting clothing based on anything other than utility seems arbitrary to me. Maybe I’ve been overly influenced by Daniel Tiger “first think about what you’re going to do then chose the clothes that are right for you! “
I want those leggings!!
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Wow a good read! what a brave mom you are. I love that you let your son explore. Right on.
I myself am new to blogging. I would love if people would take the time and read my blog for I have no idea how to get people to. ♡
I think you have a lot of guts posting this outside your own blog where you have control over the comments. I remember in your book when you made the point that while other people are entitled to their freedom of speech, you have no obligation to provide them a forum on your blog. Although I really despise all the nasty comments from so many ignorant people, especially about a kid who I have grown so fond of him, reading about all these years, opening up your audience like this will allow you to have more of a positive impact in the long run. When they show how their true ugliness, it will open up the minds of other people when they see it for what it is. Hatefulness towards an innocent child. I won’t even read them and I’m not going to as I find those people a complete waste of time and energy but just going by the comments here, I’m sure it’s appalling.
That said, I was the kid who wanted to wear nothing but skirts that were too short any other hoochie outfit I could find so good luck with that 😉 I would walk out the door in some perfectly respectable outfit and change the minute I was out of my mom’s sight. I still have to reign in my inner hooch from time to time when I see some outfits and remind myself I’m just damn old to pull that off anymore.
I found your blog a few days ago and i got to say that i’m glad that i found it. Your son is so brave and at the same time so lucky for having parents that support him in every way. I’m so happy that the world is becoming a better place to everyone that doesn’t fit in the mold that society created a long time ago. Everyone should be free to make their own choices. I have a young son and i want him to make his own opinions and make his own choices. I wish you and your family a happy life :).
Yes limits are important and with CJ being the only one wearing these things it does get a bit tricky. It would be tricky if you had a daughter too but not as much. I grew up with a brother and sister so the rules for me were the same as they were my sister. What our dad always did was say “that isn’t appropriate for someone your age boy or girl” by my teen years though it was simply “your not wearing that it’s too short go change”. There was never a time when I thought it was because I was a boy. I think some times parents over think things especially where LGBTQ kids are concerned.
I agree with how you handled this. I have found myself hesitating a few times with my son to say “no” when I don’t hesitate with his sister (that is the same size as him so they share most things). I have explained to both of them that I just won’t allow anything more than lip gloss or nail polish since they are in preschool. They both complained and my son asked if it was because he is a boy. I assured him that if he wants to wear makeup after the age of 13 (same as his sister) then I will allow it. Until then, they are stuck with my rules. Together.
Your story reminded me of my high school days. I wore pants and shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses, shorts and t-shirts to school, but then preppy looks became a big thing again. I think I gave my mom hives when I wore plaid Bermuda shorts with a D-ring belt, an oxford dress shirt with button down collar, and a bow tie to school. Oh, and Bass penny loafers. The shirt, shorts, and belt were all in shades of pink, and I loved the juxtaposition of traditionally masculine-shaped clothes with one of my favorite colors. To her credit my mom never said a word about that outfit. I knew that it was ok to wear those clothes to school because I met the school dress code and my family’s simple dress standards (avoid very short skirts/shorts, low necklines, and sleeveless tops). I was taught, and my parents modeled, reasonable boundaries for what was appropriate to wear in public and at home. At the same time I felt I had room to explore the clothes that I felt comfortable wearing. I am so grateful for that. I think your sons will appreciate that you are giving them thoughtful boundaries.
Now I have a teen son and a teen daughter. We had an interesting discussion while on vacation. My daughter planned to walk to a pool in just her swimsuit. I asked her to put on a t-shirt or a beach cover-up, and she did, but she was not happy with me. My son walked out the door in just his swim trunks. The afternoon sun was very hot. Before we arrived at the pool my son had covered his head and torso with his over-sized pool towel and complained of feeling burnt by the sun. My daughter smiled at me and said she was not bothered by the sun. We talked about the differences in their respective swimwear choices and the expectations people have for what is appropriate clothing at the pool, from wearing almost nothing at all to covered from head to toe. My daughter said she would like to wear boy shorts” and a long-sleeve rash guard for swimwear next summer. She dislikes applying sunscreen. My son said he’d like a rashguard, too. We agreed the it’s a good idea for everyone to stay reasonably dressed in public.
And I’m so glad C. J. loves his Coco. Fragrance can be a powerful style signature. And, maybe, is he inspired by his Nana? I hope so. 🙂
We had to tell our gender creative 9 year old son that although he would like to try make-up, we didn’t allow his older sister to do so until high school and that the same rules apply to him. This is the same for earrings. I didn’t allow his sister to get them until she turned 13 and so the same goes for him. Having said that, we have bent our rules for him specifically because he is a boy. For instance, we weren’t super keen on barbies for his sister when she was little but our son has a collection of barbies and monster high dolls that is larger than I’ve ever seen! I guess one of the reasons we’ve allowed it is because I don’t have to worry about body issues. He’s not comparing himself to the dolls, he’s primarily interested in fashion and how the clothing appears on the female form. So while we do try and keep the rules consistent for our feminine son, we do recognize that the situation is slightly different due to the fact that he is a boy.
Nicola, It is great that your son is interested in fashion. You may want to consider that Barbie may give him some distorted ideas about the female form, relative to both fashion and other forms of female-body-appreciation. Fashion designers need to have realistic ideas about bodies (and bodies of various sizes, various skin colors, various proportions, etc.). I suppose a lot depends on whether there are other [more realistic] dolls available and useful for his fashion undertakings.
I just read your post on Yahoo and then read the comments. I am in shock. I am sickened and disgusted at how horribly judgmental and ignorant the majority of the respondents were. As the parent of a trans young man I forget how hateful people can be. Please know that I think your blog is a loving and heartfelt explanation of what true parenting should look like.
I don’t have a yahoo account so I didn’t leave a reply there. And I know that if I had my anger would have gotten the better of me and I would have said some hateful things myself.
I wish only the best for you and yours.
A young girl (7) next door had very high heels her dad had given her, and I tried to explain that they were great party shoes but lousy for playing and running and such. She didn’t believe me until she took a nasty spill.
Yup – limits. He may well end up as one of those people who spend 30 minutes in front of the mirror before leaving the house, but not just yet…
P.s. I should remember – don’t read ths yahoo comments. You *did* warn us…
I love that you’re doing this! This is awesome! It’s very important to teach gender equality across the boards, no matter what that means. However, it does touch on a subject that I’m sensitive about myself. I remember my best friend being told in second grade that her tank top was inappropriate, and my little 10 year old sister being told that she couldn’t wear shorts (that went below her finger tips) because it was distracting to the boys in her class. It seems to me that girls are held more accountable for looking and dressing age appropriate than boys are – and they and their parents are judged more harshly if they don’t. However, even with that being said, I do agree that there is a point where it really does become a concern of appropriateness. I think you did the right thing with C.J.