or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › The Childhood Years › Boys & dresses/pink/long hair etc
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Boys & dresses/pink/long hair etc

post #1 of 99
Thread Starter 
Hi! My four-year-old ds has always liked dresses, high heels, the color pink, and has always wanted to grow his hair long. We used to steer him away from these things in public so as to protect him from social censure.

We have recently decided to deal with it more directly, letting him know what some people think, and letting him make his own choices. So he goes out in whatever he likes, and we get some stares, and lots of people just assume he's a girl (which he's fine with). Yesterday I was helping my daughter choose a dress at a farmer's market, and SURPRISE my son wanted one, too. So I have now bought a dress for my son. It's a lizard print and he looks great. And his hair is growing long...

I had worried a lot about him being teased, and feeling like there's something wrong with him, and ending up losing this expressive part of himself. The early indications are that he will be okay, so I'm less worried. (I also worry about people thinking that I'm a weird parent, but they probably already do!)

So I'm just curious to hear from other folks with gender bending boys to see how you feel about it, what your stories are.
post #2 of 99
I am not a parent yet, but I imagine this isn't easy to deal with, even with the most open-minded parents.

I think you are doing a great thing in letting your son be who he is/thinks he is/wants to be etc, because the fact is, whatever he is going to be, he is going to be---what you do or don't do is only going to affect the amount of therapy he is going to need lol (meaning if you react negatively, it isn't going to help anything) ---
In other words, he may be gay, he may be transgendered, he may just be experimenting, playing dress up and will "grow out of it" etc, but regardless, what you do or don't do is not going to do a thing to steer him towards anyone's percieved "normalcy"--it will only make things far worse if you react negatively-so I think the best thing for you to do is what you are doing now--letting him be. It is important to talk about feelings, thoughts, etc without pressure or judgement, and take things as they come. Let your son know about the "real world" as gently as possible (I probably wouldn't go too much into it until/unless he gets made fun of etc)...but also let him know you love him, accept him and will stand by him no matter what his choices may be. Maybe you can impliment something along the lines of, the same way you can't go to the grocery store in your underwear or whatever, certain places where it might be a problem or whatever for him to wear a dress you can calmy discuss and compromise (would you mind wearing pants to church sweetie, and you can wear your dress to the park later) kind of thing...but it depends on how much you care about things....

Like I said, I am sure it's not easy...no one would choose a life or situation that has the potential of making things harder for their children or might make their children the object of teasing, scrutiny, judgement, etc...but the thing that will damage your son the most (imo) is if YOU act negatively or judgemental or force him into a role he may not be comfortable with---the truth is, the only thing that will bring on a solution is time....

Good luck and take care...keep being a sensitive, loving, accepting mama and your son will be great!!
post #3 of 99
Originally Posted by NoraJadesMama

So I'm just curious to hear from other folks with gender bending boys to see how you feel about it, what your stories are.
Well, my oldest son had a pony tail for a while, until he was about 11. He also has long nails. Most people thought the tail was cool (not his grandmother, but he was confident enough not to let it bother him.) He's gotten some questions about the nails, he usually just shrugs and says he likes them that way. He used to love the color pink, when he was younger, but then he went to school and learned that he's not "supposed" to like it.

My youngest son, at this moment, has his fingernails AND toenails painted. Each a different color. Grandma (AGAIN it's grandma!) disapproves and asked him if he was a girl. But fortunately, he wasn't bothered by this--he just looked at her like she was crazy and said, "No, I just like it." This son also loves baby dolls.

My kids like what they like. So far, they think people are weird for asking them why they like certain things--why does anyone like anything? I do think our kids take cues from us though--the first time another child asked ds2 why he was wearing nail polish (in a tone that was not approving) he didn't answer, so I answered for him with a shrug and a matter-of-fact, "He just likes it." By not making a big deal of it, the kids didn't either.

We've always encouraged and supported our kids in whatever interests they've had. We believe that their clothing choices and style choices are their's to make. Actually, the only thing that's caused a problem is when dd wore a very short haircut and was called, "Son" by a store clerk. THAT upset her--funny thing was, she was wearing earings and a pink shirt with flowers at the time. Go figure.
post #4 of 99
if i were his mom i'd just be afraid that he'd be teased.
post #5 of 99
I think your adjusted attitude about it is fantastic! My DS had long hair for quite awhile until he decided he wanted it cut. His idea. He is way big on pretend and role play is the call of the day, month, year! If he's not wearing his PJ's around town, he's wearing a tail and yes, a dress is not an unsual thing for him to wear either (he also likes his toenails painted when I'm doing mine). We walked together through the food co-op one very busy evening while DS was wearing a BRIGHT ORANGE DRESS WITH COLORFUL SHAPES that used to be mine. Like when he wears his tail, he got many adoring glances and comments.

I think it's Rahima Baldwin in "You Are You're Child's First Teacher" who talks about ages 3-5 being the "age of fantasy." They are what they dress like and they're loving every minute of it. Must... be... in... character! I love the inhibition, the daring, the courage to be exactly who they feel like at any given moment and I wouldn't trade it, curb it or try to change it, for time will sadly have them wanting to "fit in" before too long.

Or then again, if we're lucky, maybe not.

The best to you NoraJadesMom!
post #6 of 99
Well, DS has had long hair in the past. He decided to get it cut last spring (when he was 2.5) and is now in the process of growing it out again (though it is almost long enough to be a "normal" cut--- it was really buzzed before).

He doesn't generally want to wear dresses, simply because he is a really casual guy; pajamas, that's another matter! BUT, he does wear a pink leapard print leotard to gymnastics (w/matching ruffle shorts) and has gotten several comments. He also loves nail polish.

I really try to keep in mind that it is SOCIETIES issue and for all I know by the time DS is a man the norms will have changed once again. How many societies *today*, after all, have men still wearing dresses, who wear face paint, etc...? And within the last century it was very common for young boys to have long hair and wear "dresses."

DS & DD have both understood from a very young age that some people are just stuck with certain views of the world. You can choose to change to fit in with their views or you can do what feels right to you. They are the ones who deal w/the primary consequences and they are the ones to make the choices (so far, lol).

Sounds like you are doing a great job!
post #7 of 99
NoraJadesMama - Just wanted to say "HI!" How are you? Email me woman!
post #8 of 99
I admire the way you are handling this! It reminds me of a great film you might want to check out! Ma Vie En Rose -( My Life In Pink)
In the Belgian film Ma Vie en Rose Pierre (Jean-Philippe Ecoffey) and Hanna (Michele Laroque) move with their four children into a pleasant suburb. Their seven-year-old son Ludo (Geoges Du Fresne) makes his debut at a welcoming party dressed as a fairy princess. "I'm a boy now," he believes, "but one day I'll be a girl." Ludo turns his family's life upside down when he professes his love for Jerome (Julien Riviere), the son of his father's boss. Then he's expelled from school and sent to a therapist. The only one who stands by him is his colorful grandmother (Helene Vincent) who honors his unwavering sense of self.

Writer and director Alain Berliner has made a fresh and phantasmagorical film about what it takes to survive in a world where people still measure others by codes of conformity, prejudice, and small-mindedness. The incomparable Ludo stands his ground until those closest to him accept him fully in love. This bright and touching drama celebrates diversity as one of the enchantments of life.
post #9 of 99
i think that you are wonderful for letting your son be himself.

i have always felt that its unfait that boys cant wear girl clothes.. though lots of girls wear very boyish stuff..

i actually dress my 2 year old in girly stuff.. i think he looks lovely in pink and purple and he likes it too..

he has fine features, so most people just think he's a girl.. boy clothes or not.

im not sure if this will affect him when he is older or not. if he tells me he wants to cut his hair or not wear dresses anymoe ill be okay with that.. but for now i think he should wear whatever he wants
post #10 of 99
I don't have any advice, just wanted to say Ma Vie En Rose is one of my favorite movies of all time.

Ariel Gore said something about this in "The Hip Mama Survival Guide." Let me go see if I can find it...

Found it.

I know one first grader who, although he has never appeared to have any shortage of testosterone pulsing through his veins, has his drag queen days. His mom is a very cool chick who doesn't say a word until he wants to go out, at which point she kindly warns him that even though he looks fabulous, "Some people might make fun of you. Some people are like that." So this kid knows what's up. I've seen him running down the sidewalk after an ice cream truck all decked out in a princess outfit and my daughter's choker necklace, but he wears khakis and t-shirts to school. School has a disproportionate number of people who are like that, he explains. And he'll only set himself up for as much ridicule as he can deal with.
Altho I haven't BTDT, I really like this approach b/c...
1) you affirm ("honey, you look fabulous, that hot pink is so your color!")
2) you place the blame on them not him (some people are like that - ignorant, prejudiced, narrow-minded, etc)
3) you allow him to make his own decisions (he sets himself up for as much ridicule as he can handle)

Ariel follows up with this wonderful wonderful quote:

As the poet Audre Lorde put it, "The strongest lesson I can teach my son is the same lesson I can teach my daughter: how to be who he wishes to be for himself. And the best way I can do this is to be who I am and hope he will learn from this not how to be me, which is impossible, but how to be himself. And this means how to move to that voice from within himself, rather than to those raucous, persuasive or threatening voices from the outside, pressuring him to be what the world wants him to be."
post #11 of 99
Well I have a girl who gender bends, and I hope if I have a boy I will be comfortable (and encouraging!) of him expressing the full range of who he is.

My little girl's best buddy is a genderbending 3 yr old boy. He is lovely. He has long wild blonde curly hair, big eyes, and he and my dd throw balls around and carry their dollies in slings together.

Btw MamaFern I looked at your pics of you and your babe. Beautiful!
post #12 of 99
Your son is very lucky to have you.

I don't know anything about this - my DD insisted that she was a boy for a while and she definitely has tomboy tendencies but she also likes to wear dresses and pretend to put on makeup.

I saw an Oprah show a while ago : (I love her but I know she's not too popular at MDC!) and it was about this very topic. You might be able to do a search on her website for a tape of it.
post #13 of 99

i have the cutest pic of elwynn in a mini skirt and cowboy hat.. im goin gto put in in our picture album
post #14 of 99
well, i cant find it.. but when i do i will
post #15 of 99
OMG, the pajama comment reminded me that ds1 used to do that too. And, while not a cross-gender thing, he also used to wear capes constantly. I can't even remember how many capes I've sewn over the years. He preferred silky material but often went out dressed as Superman. When he was small, people thought it was cute, but by the time he was 7 or so people were staring. He didn't notice. In fact, once, in a store, a dad shopping with a little one annouced loudly "Hey! There's Superman!" and the younger boy was in awe. Ds had a great time playing the part.

Personally, I think fantasy is great thing and that it's a shame that it gets squashed because of peer pressure.

I loved the "some people are like that" comment!
post #16 of 99
I think you should let him dress how he wants. His body, his choice. I wore boy clothes until I was about 13. One time my mom had to chase me around the house to get me to wear a dress to a wedding! :LOL My son was often mistaken for a girl when he was younger, even though he had a classic boy's bowl cut and clothes with cars and trucks on them. People will see what they want to see so why cater to their likes? BTW my son at 9 now likes to wear his hair long.
post #17 of 99
What great answers this thread has gotten! You are all such wonderful Mamas!!! It's not really fair that it's (socially) ok for girls to like boy things, but not vice-versa, isn't it? I mean, it's no big deal to anyone when my DD wants to wear "boy" clothes, nobody even bats an eye!
post #18 of 99
i think gender equality means that everyone shold be allowed and respected no matter what they wear, their sexual orientation.. ect ect.

i have had people say " if you dress your son like that he will turn gay" he is 2 years old. he likes it! if he is gay, then he is gay.. i didnt turn him that way.. plus i'd love him no matter what. i would insist on grandchildren though!
post #19 of 99
I have to agree with everyone here, Let kids dress the way they want, I have 6 Year Old Boy/Girl twins, my son likes to play dressup at home in his sisters clothes, And i dont see anything wrong with it.

alot of times when we are out doing errands, Both my son and daughter are often mistaken for identical twin sisters, with my son wearing all boys clothes, My sons hair is the same length and color just like his sisters, Their voices are just about the same, If either one of them says anything to me and i am not looking at them, I actually have to turn around to see which one is talking to me, If he is wearing some of his sisters clothes and we are going out, He will change into his own clothes without being asked to, Although if my son is wearing some of his sisters clothes And we are in a hurry, he will go out dressed in his sisters clothes, He has a Unisex name, So if we call him by his name and he is wearing his sisters clothes, No one really blinks an eye.

MamaFern, Your son looks so cute, I can see why people mistake him for a girl.

i actually dress my 2 year old in girly stuff.. i think he looks lovely in pink and purple and he likes it too..

MamaFern, I am courious, When you dress you son in pink, do you also put either pink barrettes or pink bows in his hair, With his hair the way it is, I think he would look cute with pink bows in his hair. Also when you take your son out in public dressed in girls clothes, What kind of clothes you do put on him.
post #20 of 99
My son wore a dress all last summer. (He was 4 at the time). Dh and I were fine with it and so were all his friends and everyone on our street. I think friends and neighbors are more inclined to follow the parent's lead; so if you are totally confident and blase about it: "Yep, he's really into that dress. It was mine when I was a kid, how 'bout that?" they will be less inclined to question it than if you express insecurity. (Not that I would care what people thought, but it's nice not to be hassled.) Strangers assumed he was a girl, biking along in his dress and pink helmet. He looked great.

The way I see it, a little boy has a limited time (up to kindergarten?) to explore wearing whatever he wants, without negative judgement from peers. Ds was totally oblivious to the fact that he wasn't "supposed" to wear a dress, and I Iet him make the most of it.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Childhood Years
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › The Childhood Years › Boys & dresses/pink/long hair etc