Would you let your son wear a dress/skirt? - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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#121 of 183 Old 07-24-2009, 11:59 PM
 
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Quite a few girls (including myself) posed in a suit and bow tie for our senior portraits in high school rather than the off-the-shoulder dress thing. And quite a few girls went to the prom in a suit instead of a dress. No one batted an eye, or questioned our sexuality, or described what we were doing as cross-dressing, or had any comment whatsoever on the matter apart from "You look so cute!".
My opinion about that is that that men are more valued than women....so women dressing "like a man" is acceptable (why not?), and men dressing like a woman is not (why would you want to do that??). Ultimately, these rules don't make me feel bad for boys because I see them as a strike against girls.

I think women in suits are totally sexy. I get that women can wear suits. But, if you put your 2 yo in a 3 piece suit, people will think she is a boy :
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#122 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 12:39 AM
 
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I wouldn't buy a child-sized 3-piece suit for my 2-3 yo girl. I'd say "that's for boys." I've thought about it a lot, and I just don't have an issue with some clothing being for boys and some being for girls. It just doesn't bother me.
The problem I have with parents using this ("No you can't wear that because it's for girls") is that it makes it even more difficult for those children who choose not to conform in this way. Why do you think kids would tease and make fun of a boy wearing a dress? It's because people, like their parents, are telling them that boys don't do that, so what are they supposed to think/feel/do when they come face to face with a boy who does, in fact, do that?
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#123 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 12:44 AM
 
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My opinion about that is that that men are more valued than women....so women dressing "like a man" is acceptable (why not?), and men dressing like a woman is not (why would you want to do that??). Ultimately, these rules don't make me feel bad for boys because I see them as a strike against girls.

I think women in suits are totally sexy. I get that women can wear suits. But, if you put your 2 yo in a 3 piece suit, people will think she is a boy :
How are woman going to be viewed as any more valuble if being feminin continues to be something to avoid?

There are plenty of women in my life I look up to and try to emulate at times because of who they are.

Why would I want to assume someone is less valuble to the world just because they are a woman or emulate one?

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#124 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 12:48 AM
 
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I think women in suits are totally sexy. I get that women can wear suits. But, if you put your 2 yo in a 3 piece suit, people will think she is a boy :
Eh, I'd bet if I put my almost 4 year old (boy) in a 3 piece suit, people would still assume he's a girl.
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#125 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 12:59 AM
 
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This queston scares me . It seems so innocent but it actualy is very loaded for many diffrent reasons. I agree with a PP that girls dressing like boys is like " stepping up" where as reversing it is like saying " why on earth would you want to be like a girl"and for that reason alone it would be like insulting the female race to tell him dressing like a girl is below him. Also as a GSA member I can see how making a child feel there is something wrong with dressing identifing as another gender would complicate things later when thouse kinds of conversations come up. And I understand that this "fad" of men not wearing dress/skirt has been around a long time but it hasnt been around since the beging . So in theroy I am all for the wearing of skirts by everyone. DD also shops in the boys department to get camo dinosaurs and trucks on her outfits ( clothing marketers havent realized girls like cars yet ethir)But when it comes to my son its going to be a hard pill to swallow . DH ( who is a real hard working manly man)said to me " he can wear it in the house whod care about that ?" So if he is so fine with it at home I should really be fine with it where ever .. its strange to me that Iam so scared of this , It must be that wanting to protect him from others thing
DS is only 15mo so I have some time to figure it out - BOL

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#126 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 01:07 AM
 
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I have no problem with it. My son asked for a dress and I got him one; he hasn't opted to wear it out of the house yet but he can wear whatever he likes. He likes nail polish, so he wears that about as often as I do (4x a year ).

Even if certain things are innate to sex/gender (which, as research is showing, is way more complicated than a binary male/female model once you get into genitalia vs. chromosomes, etc. - http://www.scq.ubc.ca/genetics-of-se...nder-identity/), I do not honestly think that pink, bows, skirts, etc. have anything to do with it... have a look at different get ups historically across cultures. All that is imposed from our culture.

I do want my son to be aware of cultural norms and - he is. But I support his exploration however he wants to do it.
we are learning more about gender all the time. It's not as simple as everyone thinks, and gendered behavior in particular is largely a social construct. norms for clothing change across cultures and over time; it's silly to "instill" them as if they were natural law or something.

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#127 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 01:10 AM
 
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The problem I have with parents using this ("No you can't wear that because it's for girls") is that it makes it even more difficult for those children who choose not to conform in this way. Why do you think kids would tease and make fun of a boy wearing a dress? It's because people, like their parents, are telling them that boys don't do that, so what are they supposed to think/feel/do when they come face to face with a boy who does, in fact, do that?
AWESOME!!! thank you for posting that!

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#128 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 01:15 AM
 
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I'd probably have a discussion very similar to the one we had about nail polish when he was 4.

DS: Will you paint my nails
Me: Sure

The next day when he had daycare in the morning

Me: Do you want me to take the nail polish off.
DS: No
Me: Do you want to wear it to daycare
DS: Yes, I like it
Me: You may get made fun off (brief discussion about why and what types of things people might say)
DS: I like it. I don't want to take it off
Me: Okay. Lets talk about some ways to handle it if someone makes fun of you...........
Well handled.

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The problem I have with parents using this ("No you can't wear that because it's for girls") is that it makes it even more difficult for those children who choose not to conform in this way. Why do you think kids would tease and make fun of a boy wearing a dress? It's because people, like their parents, are telling them that boys don't do that, so what are they supposed to think/feel/do when they come face to face with a boy who does, in fact, do that?
Yes, TOTALLY. Those of you who are using that line are definitely making the world more hurtful for some other kids.

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#129 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:23 AM
 
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The problem I have with parents using this ("No you can't wear that because it's for girls") is that it makes it even more difficult for those children who choose not to conform in this way. Why do you think kids would tease and make fun of a boy wearing a dress? It's because people, like their parents, are telling them that boys don't do that, so what are they supposed to think/feel/do when they come face to face with a boy who does, in fact, do that?
This is pretty much exactly what I wanted to say. When you tell children something as a hard and fast fact, they carry that into adulthood. A little boy who is told "Oh, no, you can't wear that skirt. Skirts are for girls and women!" feels a small shame for wanting to wear the skirt. He goes on to believe that other boys who wear skirts should feel shame. That same boy grows up into a man who thinks it's weird and not really acceptable for a male to wear a skirt, so when he sees a male (or what he perceives to be a male) who is, in fact, in a skirt, he makes a negative judgment about that person. When a parent teaches a child that kind of thing, they are teaching the future adult to discriminate and (goodness, let's hope not, but it's still a possibility) persecute those who do differently.

That's the whole thing. That's the cycle. That's the whole perpetration of the "no skirts on men" cultural norm. There is no other logical reason for it. It's just a silly construct that parents keep passing down.

"Men don't wear skirts."
"Why?"
"They just don't. (Because that's what I was told as a child.)"

Rinse and repeat for generations....

You can choose to contribute and help it along or recognize it as ridiculous and reject it.

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#130 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 06:37 AM
 
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The problem I have with parents using this ("No you can't wear that because it's for girls") is that it makes it even more difficult for those children who choose not to conform in this way. Why do you think kids would tease and make fun of a boy wearing a dress? It's because people, like their parents, are telling them that boys don't do that, so what are they supposed to think/feel/do when they come face to face with a boy who does, in fact, do that?
Indeed, great post.

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#131 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 09:03 AM
 
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The problem I have with parents using this ("No you can't wear that because it's for girls") is that it makes it even more difficult for those children who choose not to conform in this way. Why do you think kids would tease and make fun of a boy wearing a dress? It's because people, like their parents, are telling them that boys don't do that, so what are they supposed to think/feel/do when they come face to face with a boy who does, in fact, do that?
FTR, I would never say "you can't wear that" about this kind of issue. I just wouldn't provide a dress for my young son.

I don't have an issue with gendered clothing. I like gendered clothing. To me, gendered clothing is a tool we can all use to express ourselves (transgendered definitely included, since it has come up). I am open with my young children about gendered clothing. I see it as information about our culture--and, yes, I qualify it as our culture, literally saying "In our current culture...." when talking to my 8 yo.

I also do not have an issue with nonconformity. As I've said, if my older son understood the gender implications and chose to wear a dress, I'd support that.

I teach my dc to accept others as they are, as long as they are not hurting anyone. If my dc see a boy in a dress, they will recognize the boy is making and unconventional choice--and that is ok. I remind them of times they've made unconventional choices. I guess I just don't see the point of ignoring that it is an unconventional choice in our current culture (and not in some hip subculture) for a boy/man to wear a dress. If my dc saw a transgendered woman in a dress, I'd explain that she is a woman, even if her outer appearance doesn't obviously reflect that.
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#132 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 09:14 AM
 
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How are woman going to be viewed as any more valuble if being feminin continues to be something to avoid?
The clothing rules for boys/men are a reflection of women's value, not the cause of women's value.
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#133 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 12:29 PM
 
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Someone asked what about a skirt makes is innately female? I can't respond for other countries or cultures because I live in the US. But in the US a skirt is feminine. Look at any public bathroom door, signage in store indicating girls and boys clothing (separate sections). The very term Cross Dresser. The distinction is unavoidable in our country.

Not many children are going to thank their parents for being an outward expression of their - the parents - non-conformist and liberal beliefs.
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#134 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 12:40 PM
 
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Not many children are going to thank their parents for being an outward expression of their - the parents - non-conformist and liberal beliefs.
My child is not my expression..He has an older sister. He plays with girls. i am not going to tell him he can't do something that the girls can.
I am not making a statement. He is not making a statement. He likes dresses..it's everyone else's perception that makes YOU think I am using him as an outward expression of my non conformity.
If you knew me you would know I am not in any way using my children to express anything..they challenge me everyday and make me uncomfortable and challenge my bleifs..EVERYDAY.

I need help from non conformist friends to make see it's OK. I am not seeking out or advertising anything non conformist.
We are who we are..and we are not advertising non conformity around here.
some people think breastfeeding past 2 or even doing at all is just an outward expression of non conformity..it's not for the child it's for YOU they say. Can't I let my kid wear a dress just b/c he wants to?
Homeschooling is an expression of non conformity? Or is si just doing what works best for my kidsand my family?
Can't wearing a dress be the same..just another choice in along line choices?
Do we have to painted by the non conformist brush? Mainstream brush?
I am all these .very mainstream and very crunchy and very conformist and very non conformist...
I am human and so are my children..they are no advertisement!

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#135 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 12:42 PM
 
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Not many children are going to thank their parents for being an outward expression of their - the parents - non-conformist and liberal beliefs.
I might be with you on that if we were talking about people forcing their children to "cross dress." However, that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about parents not allowing their children to dress as they choose because it violates arbitrary social rules based on gender. I'm not going to make different rules for my kids based on what parts they have between their legs anymore than I would for what color hair they have, and I really don't understand how anyone justifies doing so.

In any case, I think just as few children would be grateful to their parents for being an outward expression of their - the parents - conformist and conservative beliefs.
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#136 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 12:53 PM
 
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Someone asked what about a skirt makes is innately female? I can't respond for other countries or cultures because I live in the US. But in the US a skirt is feminine. Look at any public bathroom door, signage in store indicating girls and boys clothing (separate sections). The very term Cross Dresser. The distinction is unavoidable in our country.

Not many children are going to thank their parents for being an outward expression of their - the parents - non-conformist and liberal beliefs.
But that is something cultural, not innate.

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#137 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 01:04 PM
 
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I didn't circumcise my son in case some people made fun of him someday for being intact. I didn't leave him intact in case some people made fun of him someday for being circumcised. I don't make my parenting decisions based on fear of other people's opinions.

I hear a lot of fear on this thread. As a parent who has actually brought her children out in public in pajamas, dress-up clothes, and cross-gendered clothes, please allow me to interject some actual real life experience here. I've never had a problem bringing my son out in dresses or skirts. He's never had a problem with it. He's been mistaken for a girl a bunch of times. I simply say that he's a boy and move on with the conversation. We've gotten a couple sidelong glances and even rolled eyes once, but no direct confrontation or even indirect confrontation. And we've done it a LOT. He's also gotten a ton of compliments about how cute he is. The positive interactions outstrip the even vaguely negative ones by so far it's funny.

I think parental attitude has a lot to do with it. I haven't gotten a lot of flack for any of my parental decisions, even when I know full well that family members or people around me don't agree with me. I'm confident and I have *boundaries* about how any discussion of my choices will play out. I express that in the way I carry myself, the way I hold my body when I talk, in my words. It's very effective. (Thanks, Mom! She totally modeled this to us.) I model this to my children as a healthy and effective way to live their lives the way they choose while interacting with the world.

There are always a couple people out there who might say something inappropriate to your children or about your parenting. How many threads have you read here about that stranger in the checkout line ranting about breastfeeding in public? Or not having a sunhat on your infant in the summer or a warm hat and socks on your child in winter? Or not having socks on your infant in the summer??

They're out there. But they aren't healthy, balanced people with strong manners and social awareness. Healthy, balanced people with strong manners and social awareness don't accost people in public with their opinions about someone else's choices. These are not people I'm going to live in fear of, or change my choices for. If we have a negative interaction with someone like that, I explain to my children that they aren't quite well and need a little latitude and understanding, but that what they say shouldn't be taken to heart.
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#138 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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Yes i would definitely let DS wear a dress just like he has played outside in a diaper, undershirt, winter boots and a fireman's hat

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#139 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 02:08 PM
 
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Turns out that age and understanding of the social ramifications IS important to me.

My son, age 6, told me today he wants a Mohawk. I said sure. I really don't care what my kids do with their hair - it will grow out. His little sister, age 3, says she wants a Mohawk too.

We aren't letting her get one at this point.

So I guess I found a fashion trend that females don't do that boys can. And I found out I'm more open about my son wearing a nail polish or a dress than I am my daughter sporting a Mohawk.

At this point I'm not sure if my issue is the gender differences, the age differences, or the permanence of the decision. A hair style will grow out but it can't be changed as quickly as nail polish or clothes.

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#140 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:19 PM
 
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My mom used to teach a parent co-op preschool, and she says the boys always wanted to wear the girls' dresses. She thinks it's because girls' clothes tend to be so much more colorful and fun than boys'. Last week DS threw a fit because he wanted to wear his playmate's ruffly green swimsuit. We put it on him and he wore it happily for hours. He looked so cute I'm thinking about getting him one.
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#141 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:24 PM
 
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So I guess I found a fashion trend that females don't do that boys can. And I found out I'm more open about my son wearing a nail polish or a dress than I am my daughter sporting a Mohawk.
.
That's a great example! I've known lots of little boys with mohawks (often encouraged by the parents). I have yet to see a little girl with one. Is that different in different areas?
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#142 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:24 PM
 
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He has long hair and is "beautiful" and people often think he's a girl, and that's fine, because there is nothing wrong with being a girl, sometimes people think he's a boy, and that's fine because there is nothing wrong with being a boy.
You know, those who do prefer gender distinctions don't believe there is something wrong with being one gender or another.

I have boys. There is nothing wrong with being a girl, but they *are* boys, and they are not girls.
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#143 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:40 PM
 
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The clothing rules for boys/men are a reflection of women's value, not the cause of women's value.
How we allow us to reflect a woman's value affect how those who learn from us (i.e. our children) value women. If we continue to reflect a woman's value as less then men then how do our children learn otherwise?

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#144 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:43 PM
 
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FTR, I would never say "you can't wear that" about this kind of issue. I just wouldn't provide a dress for my young son.
Would you even refuse to provide a dress for your young son if he 1) expressed a strong desire to wear one and 2) exhibited emotional distress because he isn't allowed one?

Some people start young in their desire to express who they truely are.

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#145 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:49 PM
 
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You know, those who do prefer gender distinctions don't believe there is something wrong with being one gender or another.

I have boys. There is nothing wrong with being a girl, but they *are* boys, and they are not girls.
true. but there is also nothing wrong with boys that want to be like girls or to be girls. nothing wrong with girls who want to be boys.

it might seem wrong to some - and make many many people uncomfortable, but it is clearly unhelpful to try to force someone to be who they are not...so while their genitals say they are a boy, what if the rest of them identifies with girl? does it end completely at the set of genitals they wind up with?

capp...not referring specifically to your boys! just boys generally...specifically ones who might identify as girls...

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#146 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:50 PM
 
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That's a great example! I've known lots of little boys with mohawks (often encouraged by the parents). I have yet to see a little girl with one. Is that different in different areas?
I think it is, mohawks are not gendered here. They are just an occasionally neat hairstyle from the 80's that you only see on kids or punk rockers.

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#147 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:55 PM
 
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You know, those who do prefer gender distinctions don't believe there is something wrong with being one gender or another.

I have boys. There is nothing wrong with being a girl, but they *are* boys, and they are not girls.
Boys can't wear dresses though. Boys can wear girls clothes. I have a friend who is a boy, grew up to be a straight, non-gender confused man... He spend a couple of years with a wardrobe made up entirely of clothing from the little girls department because he flat out refused to wear any of the "icky boy stuff". It was either girls clothes or nude. His parents could have forced him into boy clothes and not honoured his preference, but they chose not to for no other reason then to teach their son that he can be whoever he wants and like whatever he wants. He is now married and father of four who still likes the colour pink.

So... dressing like the opposite gender doesn't dictate ones gender either pysically or psychologically. It just dictates someones likes and dislikes.

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#148 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:58 PM
 
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Would you even refuse to provide a dress for your young son if he 1) expressed a strong desire to wear one and 2) exhibited emotional distress because he isn't allowed one?

Some people start young in their desire to express who they truely are.
Yes, if the desire/reaction were extreme (rather than simply wanting to mimic his big sister), I would certainly honor that.

eta--but, my dc would still have the information about how society views gendered clothing. I guess my biggest point is that I don't understand pretending that society does not gender type dresses. To me, that seems to be a bit fearful (as if it will harm a child to know that dresses are for "girl clothing" in our society). The way I see it, I prefer to be honest about the issue.
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#149 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 03:59 PM
 
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my son never asked so I never had to consider it. He, at 6, wouldn't be caught dead in a skirt.

I'd probably warn him that, in this country, mostly just girls wear skirts. If he wants to wear one that is fine... but some other people may not understand why a boy is wearing a skirt.
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#150 of 183 Old 07-25-2009, 04:08 PM
 
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Yes, if the desire/reaction were extreme (rather than simply wanting to mimic his big sister), I would certainly honor that.

eta--but, my dc would still have the information about how society views gendered clothing. I guess my biggest point is that I don't understand pretending that society does not gender type dresses. To me, that seems to be a bit fearful (as if it will harm a child to know that dresses are for "girl clothing" in our society). The way I see it, I prefer to be honest about the issue.
No ones said not to let your child know that society won't always look kindly on it. Just that using that as reason to not allow your son to wear a dress doesn't make much sense.

Society as a whole tends to be illogical about many things.

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