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Would you let your son wear a dress/skirt? - Page 3

post #41 of 183
After a great deal of thought, probably not.

DS is 3 1/2 now, and doesn't have any inclination to be girly (his older sister keeps trying, in vain, to get him to play princesses with him and dress him up, but he's having none of it). So, the fact that he isn't begging for a dress probably makes my answer of "no" easier.

We have recently moved into a fairly small community where we plan on living until my kids are done with high school, at least. Each of my kids will be in a class of about a hundred kids from kindergarten right through high school. No escaping from their peers. I would hate to allow DS to do something when he's five that would come back to haunt him when he's twelve: "Remember when you used to come to school in a DRESS?!" from his classmates. Or other mean comments.

If DS really, truly, feels that dressing in female clothing is an essential part of his identity, we will work with that--but only once he is old enough to understand the repercussions of dressing SO differently around people who are unlikely to forget. I'm supportive of whoever DS is in regards to gender or sexuality, but I am hesitant for him to paint such a large target on himself simply on a childhood whim.

That said, I do currently paint his fingernails whenever he wants me to, and put clips in his hair when he admires his sister's. We are pretty insular, and our playgroup friends and our family members don't think it's weird. When it gets to the point where I'm sending him to school away from me, I will change that policy.

Up to a certain age when they can handle it, I think it wears on kids to have to constantly answer confrontational questions about their appearance. DD has a huge birthmark on her face that is currently being surgically treated, and it sucks for all of us to have strangers constantly commenting on it. I don't want to encourage DS to purposely draw similar horrified attention to his looks. It may make me a terrible parent that I'd prefer my kids blend, but that's where I stand now while they are little.
post #42 of 183
DS has been interested in wearing dresses and skirts since he was a toddler. He's three now and still does. We roll with it. He has a drawer of skirts and dresses, mostly hand-me-downs from his sister, a few that he picked out especially for himself when we were clothing shopping. And four drawers of pants, shorts, and overalls. He goes through phases where sometimes he's happy to let me pick out his clothes and sometimes he insists on picking out his own, at which point he almost always picks out a dress or skirt. Honestly, we're not crystal clear on his gender identity, but I'm confident that him choosing to wear a skirt might be, at most, an outward indication of his identity, not something that would change his identity simply by virtue of him wearing it.

We've talked about how people dress in different cultures, we've talked about the difference between playing pretend and reality (like the three months where he wanted to be Snow White every single day, complete with ball gown). When he says that he wants to wear a dress so he can be pretty, just like we with did when dd went through her princess phase, we emphasize that the person is beautiful and the clothes are nice, too, but clothes don't make you beautiful. We also talk about the nice features we see in his "boy" clothes -- how I like the blue of a shirt and how it sets off his eyes, how interesting the dragon embroidery on his pants is, etc. He is who he is and I love him as he is. I have no idea who he's going to be when he grows up and I'm very curious. But primarily, I want him to like himself and accept himself, whether he ends up being a conservative button-down Republican or a drag queen, or just a guy who's maybe a little more perceptive than most when it comes to fashion, has an open mind, and who likes the finer things in life.
post #43 of 183
For those of you who say, "no" how do you explain it to the little kid?
I am asking b/c i just can not fathom myself saying, "No b/c those are only for girls"
I can't think of a scenario where I would have to say that to a girl. Even if, say. she wanted to wear a sports cup I could say, "well you don't have the right equipment to need that..that REALLY is for boys b/c it's for the actual penis...the actual part that makes them a boy.
But how do you say..no just because?
In any scenario I can picture my son saying "who cares?" or "I want to anyway"
No matter if I said people might think your a girl no matter if I said they are only for girls..he would counter with, "So..I still want to"
How do you say no to that?
then what if I said, "People will laugh"
What message am I giving to my dd? That girls are inferior? That pretending to be a girl is silly but it's ok to pretend to be boy once a while?
I can not come up with any way to say no that does not impact both my kids.
post #44 of 183
Have done and will again. Cant see any issue with it.
post #45 of 183
Yes, I would.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmostAPpropriate View Post
Second, I firmly believe in inate differences between genders. I accept that some are born without a clear gender identity or born into the wrong body. However, the vast majority of people are born in one camp or the other. I feel like in our desire to be an accepting/open society to those who need it, we are blurring lines that dont need blurring for others. My boy is a boy. Why tell a boy who is firmly a boy that it's ok to be like a girl? Or my daughter that it's fine to be a boy?

Oh, adding, I too see a big difference between Male clothing that includes a skirt/dress like item and Female clothing.
It's not clear to me what believing in "innate differences between genders" (which I would revise to say "between sexes") has to do with skirts, dresses, colors, etc. You might believe that boys are innately different from girls, but what about a skirt makes it "innately" a girly thing? What about the color pink makes it "innately" girly. These things are arbitrary conventions--and there arbitrariness is evident by the fact that they vary widely across cultures and even within the same culture. In early America, boys wore pink (the "childish" form of red, which was thought to be the more masculine color) and both genders wore gowns when they were very young. If you want to enforce "traditional" gender norms, you should probably be putting your son in a pink gown!

I would let my boy wear "girl" clothes and my girl wear "boy" clothes, because I simply don't buy into the idea that clothes, or colors, or toys can have "gender". Moreover, I think that buying into that idea, particular in its extremes, can be extremely harmful to both boys and girls who don't naturally adhere to gender norms (and the existence of so many boys who like to wear tiaras and so many girls who like to ride dirt bikes suggests that there are plenty who don't). If a boy who desperately wants to wear a dress is told by his parents that his feelings are "wrong" and "abnormal," odds are that it will not eliminate the desire but teaching him that his parents will only accept him if he acts in a certain, prescribed way. That kind of thinking is also one of the reason why, I think, we have so many clueless, hands-off fathers--if parents don't allow their interested sons to have baby dolls, push strollers, play with toy kitchens, etc., they are implicitly sending the messages that boys aren't "supposed" to be nurturing and involved parents/caretakers of their homes/etc.
post #46 of 183
I am imagining the future....I totally would let him wear a dress in the house or to Grammy's house. I'd paint his nails. I'd even get him some pretty dress ups if he wanted.
Out in public.....I don't think so. Like a PP said I feel like that invites a certain amount of attention with the potential for some real negativity. I guess I would feel like I failed him if I set him up for that kind of experience. Of course I would try to protect him. Of course I wouldn't care what other people thought. Of course I could try to explain to him why people acted like that etc. But I feel like the damage would still be done. I just feel like it is unnecessary to risk his sensitive little heart like that. When I was little my mom sent me to school with curlers in my hair. She didn't think it would be a problem. Well...it was. I wish she had thought ahead and protected me from that experience.
post #47 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by hipumpkins View Post
For those of you who say, "no" how do you explain it to the little kid?
I am asking b/c i just can not fathom myself saying, "No b/c those are only for girls"
I can't think of a scenario where I would have to say that to a girl. Even if, say. she wanted to wear a sports cup I could say, "well you don't have the right equipment to need that..that REALLY is for boys b/c it's for the actual penis...the actual part that makes them a boy.
But how do you say..no just because?
In any scenario I can picture my son saying "who cares?" or "I want to anyway"
No matter if I said people might think your a girl no matter if I said they are only for girls..he would counter with, "So..I still want to"
How do you say no to that?
then what if I said, "People will laugh"
What message am I giving to my dd? That girls are inferior? That pretending to be a girl is silly but it's ok to pretend to be boy once a while?
I can not come up with any way to say no that does not impact both my kids.
I think if I were explaining it, I would say that we don't do it because it draws too much attention to us, and other people think it's weird, and other people tease and laugh, and other people think I'm a bad mother.

This may be shallow, but it's just not a battle that I want to fight with society. If the issue were some kind of special dress for religious reasons, I might make impassioned statements about standing up for our beliefs in spite of secular society or something similar. But I personally think that conformity in clothing is appropriate and helps my kids fit in with their peers. My parents were big on nonconformity when I was a kid....and mostly it just made me feel bad to not fit in, and I wished they had pointed out the benefits of conformity once in a while.

And yes, there's no equivalent for girls. There's no real way for a girl to dress up as a boy in our culture. Maybe getting a boy's haircut? I have a son and a daughter and I don't think there's anything wrong with saying there's a different rule here for boys and girls.

These are just my own opinions--not trying to argue with anyone else's beliefs or handling of the issue. It's interesting to read others' responses.
post #48 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by hipumpkins View Post
For those of you who say, "no" how do you explain it to the little kid?
I am asking b/c i just can not fathom myself saying, "No b/c those are only for girls"
I can't think of a scenario where I would have to say that to a girl. Even if, say. she wanted to wear a sports cup I could say, "well you don't have the right equipment to need that..that REALLY is for boys b/c it's for the actual penis...the actual part that makes them a boy.
But how do you say..no just because?
In any scenario I can picture my son saying "who cares?" or "I want to anyway"
No matter if I said people might think your a girl no matter if I said they are only for girls..he would counter with, "So..I still want to"
How do you say no to that?
then what if I said, "People will laugh"
What message am I giving to my dd? That girls are inferior? That pretending to be a girl is silly but it's ok to pretend to be boy once a while?
I can not come up with any way to say no that does not impact both my kids.
With a 2 year old I believe that I would try to avoid getting directly into the issue like this. I think I would just give him a choice of other clothes, let him pick out a crazy hat, tell him we need pants for where we are going, tell him we will save the dress for when we go to Grammy's tomorrow. Distraction, substitution, redirection.

Good question....
post #49 of 183
Re: dresses are appropriate for boys in other cultures, so there's nothing wrong with it here....I really think that's irrelevant. Would you really use this argument if your adolescent daughter wanted to go out topless because that's appropriate in a tribe in Africa? Or wanted to sunbathe topless because that's appropriate in Europe? Or if your daughter wanted to wear a burka to school, even though that's not your own family heritage? Sometimes I really think it's ok to say this is the culture we live in, for better or worse, and it's ok to conform to its expectations regarding gender-appropriate clothing for kids too young to understand the full implications of subverting those expectations.
post #50 of 183
: I agree with you NicaG
post #51 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post
I think if I were explaining it, I would say that we don't do it because it draws too much attention to us, and other people think it's weird, and other people tease and laugh, and other people think I'm a bad mother.
The thing is, letting your kid know people might react that strongly to a boy in a dress - so strongly that you're afraid to even let him try it - is giving him the message that there's really something wrong with dressing like a girl. Of course my kid is going to realize someday that a lot of people do think there's something wrong with it, but I guess I'd rather not have him find out what a strong cultural bias there is against it until he's old enough to understand how dumb that bias is.

Right now, he's only 3.5, so no kids his age are going to tease him for wearing a dress. And while I can imagine some adults thinking it's screwed up for me to put a dress on him, it seems pretty unlikely that any of them would be rude enough to comment on it. So forbidding him to wear a dress wouldn't be to protect him from mean comments, but just to protect me from having to worry about what people might think. (I do try to protect myself from that by encouraging him to wear other things in public, but I haven't gone so far as to forbid him to wear a dress, and I don't think I would unless I had reason to believe he'd really get a negative reaction.)
post #52 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post
Re: dresses are appropriate for boys in other cultures, so there's nothing wrong with it here....I really think that's irrelevant. Would you really use this argument if your adolescent daughter wanted to go out topless because that's appropriate in a tribe in Africa? Or wanted to sunbathe topless because that's appropriate in Europe? Or if your daughter wanted to wear a burka to school, even though that's not your own family heritage? Sometimes I really think it's ok to say this is the culture we live in, for better or worse, and it's ok to conform to its expectations regarding gender-appropriate clothing for kids too young to understand the full implications of subverting those expectations.
My reason for not wanting to allow my teenage daughter to walk around topless have to do with the unwanted attention she might get from men in our highly sexualized culture, not because I think there's anything "wrong" with women being topless (particularly since it's perfectly acceptable, culturally, for men to be topless). So, if you don't want your son to wear a dress, because you are worried about unwanted attention, teasing, etc., I can understand that--it's not where I choose to draw my line, and I think the general observance of rigid gender norms is harmful, but I can understand, even if I don't agree. But if you don't want your son to wear a dress or a pink shirt because you think those things are "inherently for girls," then I don't get it. Nothing is "inherently for girls" or "inherently for boys"--we choose, culturally, what those things are, and what we choose is constantly in flux.

But, personally, I simply don't agree that there is "gender-appropriate" clothing. I know some people do, but I don't. What about having a penis would make a skirt inappropriate? It might still be cool and comfortable for a boy to wear. Nothing about havin a vagina makes pants inappropriate for girls. Girls and boys are much physically similar than they are different, so I think it is quite reasonable that some boys would prefer skirts as more comfortable, just as some girls do--and just as some girls find pants more comfortable.
post #53 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post
I think if I were explaining it, I would say that we don't do it because it draws too much attention to us, and other people think it's weird, and other people tease and laugh, and other people think I'm a bad mother.
But hipumpkins was looking for a way to explain it that wouldn't negatively effect either of her children . . . all of those explanations would be very negative -- saying that drawing attention to yourself is a something to avoid, that people think it's weird or will pick on them, and that it's something a "bad mother" would do.

Those aren't adequate explanations, and I highly doubt anyone could come up with an explanation that wasn't negative -- because teaching your kids to express themselves only in "socially-acceptable" ways is a pretty damning thing to do.
post #54 of 183
What a timely question!

My ds (4, will be 5 in November) is currently wearing a flowery sundress, purple socks, and pink shoes. He's at the grocery store with my dh and dd. Dd dressed him today.
post #55 of 183
Sorry, is there a culture where the sort of dresses sold for girls in the U.S. are generally accepted male clothes?

And the "daughters topless because some African cultures are" argument is silly since I'm not about to let my son(s) run around totally naked or with a loincloth in the streets just because that happens in some cultures. However, robes and such do cover everything we legally need to cover in our culture.
post #56 of 183
No, never. I don't have a boy though . But if I did, I wouldn't. I don't let DD go out in inside out, non-matching, or non-season-appropriate clothes either. I think presentation is important and I would like to present my family as typical of our culture's values and norms and appropriately dressed for the occasion. I don't like the idea of other people judging me and I also want my kids to feel like they 'belong' and are like everybody else. Clothes are shorthand for strangers about who you are. I'm all for fighting the patriarchy but I'm picking my battles. Strangers thinking my kids are weirdos? Nope. DH making dinner and getting up with the baby? Check.
post #57 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post
Re: dresses are appropriate for boys in other cultures, so there's nothing wrong with it here....I really think that's irrelevant. Would you really use this argument if your adolescent daughter wanted to go out topless because that's appropriate in a tribe in Africa? Or wanted to sunbathe topless because that's appropriate in Europe? Or if your daughter wanted to wear a burka to school, even though that's not your own family heritage? Sometimes I really think it's ok to say this is the culture we live in, for better or worse, and it's ok to conform to its expectations regarding gender-appropriate clothing for kids too young to understand the full implications of subverting those expectations.
I'll bite, since I said that.

And actually for some of those things, yes. In Ontario there was a Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge about a law that required women to wear shirts and not men and now it's legal for women to go topless. I'm glad for the legal right to go topless (and actually this vaguely plays into breastfeeding as well; it eliminated one argument against nursing in public.) I have gone topless when camping, as a teen. If my adolescent daughter were choosing to go topless I would certainly discuss my very real concerns about other people's reactions but I think ultimately I would support her as long as it were in a safe environment (Pride parades come to mind...).

For the burka – I've worn that too, for a few days as a part of a culture exchange programme. People here do wear them and as long as it's not done mockingly I really have no issue with it. At all.

What I would have trouble with would be a swastika, for example. So if you are asking me if I have any standards at all well yes, I do. I don't have a problem with parents guiding their kids' clothing choices and I support you in your decision.

But for me, I do not want my kid doing things "because everyone else does" as a bottom line reason. I consider this a safety issue – if everyone's doing drugs, for example, I really want him to say no!

Being mocked is a painful experience and of course I don't want him to have too many painful experiences. But I also don't want him to live in fear of being mocked or to allow that fear to rule his own decisions about things. I've been on both sides of this issue.

Having been raised by parents who dressed me 'funny' I am all too aware of the cruelty of people. I think there is value in being aware of the consequences of choice in dress, and sensitive about it. At the same time I have been well served by some willingness to be different – I've traveled, I've said "yes!" to going to the pool on days I haven't shaved and gotten to swim, I've tagged along to formal events in informal clothing.

I know people who won't eat out alone because they don't want to be looked at (!!) and I really don't want my son to truncate his life and desires out of that kind of fear you know?

So – yes I am willing to be discomforted and to even expose my son to discomfort if he wants to wear something different than a cultural norm. I also want to support him in understanding the norms and helping him conform to them if he wants to, too. I believe we learn mostly by doing and my son wanting a dress at 3 is part of his learning process and I totally support that. If people make fun of that, that is their problem and of course we have to deal with it – but it really is their issue.

If clothing choices were innate, boys would innately NEVER wear dresses.
post #58 of 183
I am very sure I will not allow my sons to wear female's clothing. I've allowed nailpolish when he was under the age of 3, but that's actually something I feel weird about now.
I do not want my children thinking that whatever they want to wear is fine with me. Because it's not. Just because its out there, doesn't mean its for everyone's body. My teenage daughters (when they get there) aren't going to be able to tell me they want to wear little tanktops, tube tops, short shorts, skirts, or dresses. They will be dressed in clothes that are appropriate for age/weather/modesty. I'm not a terribly modest person, but...my children won't get to chose to show off body parts that don't need to be advertised.
My sons--they won't get to wear big huge baggy pants that show their bums (or boxers...whichever they decide). They won't get to wear clothing with chains, cuss words, or negative messages on them. They will wear nice clothes and look respectable. I'm firmly in my thoughts that your kids wear what you buy and that's what's acceptable to them. You don't have to give a very long explanation as to why they can't wear something. My 5 year old wants to wear girls heels. I said no. He asked why. "Because those are for women to wear with their pretty clothes. You have nice shoes to wear with your handsome clothes." the end. And if he asks again, it gets repeated. No big explanation on why the feminist movement happened, no burning bras conversation, nothing other than "Those are women's. your sisters won't wear your dress clothes, you don't wear theirs. the end"
post #59 of 183
If it makes you feel better..get costumes that are dresses so it is more like dressup.

My older 2 children were a boy and a girl. They would put on each others clothes all the time. They wanted to be exactly alike. But the dresses came off at the door. We did not wear them out in public.

My younger 2 children are both boys. They have costumes like Star Wars Jedi and such. Those are like dresses and they have never complained. They actually went to preschool so I think their gender roles were set pretty early so I never had to worry I guess. But they did not go until 3.
post #60 of 183
Kilt time......................

LOL love men in kilts.

I do think how other people would precieve it is relative but for an older child.

At 2 I would let him were a dress, paint nails, et as they grow you discuss how people judge you by how you dress. You let them know it is ok to dress in that fashion but don't be prepared for others judgement.
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