The boy in the pretty purple and pink boots is mine :) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 12:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I'm at the farm store with DS (4-years-old) today picking out rain boots. The color options were lined up in front of us: purple with pink trim, yellow with blue, navy with green and red with black.

At first he said he wanted the yellow and then in a bit more hesitant voice, "Or maybe the purple? Or are those for girls?"

Me, "Well most people usually say purple and pink are only for girls but if you want them, we can get them."

He tries on the yellow, "No, these ones are too tight for me." (They were actually a size too big)

Next the purple, "These are just right! I want these."

So I have an internal mental debate with myself for a few moments. I DON"T care if he wears pink. OK, there is a tiny smidgen of cultural indoctrination remaining in me that I try to set aside in moments like these---but for the most part I don't care. DH doesn't care. But, we left our hippy, gender-bending city a year ago for my rural home town---and I am terrified of someone making fun of my sweet little boy and hurting his feelings.

So, my debate at that moment is whether I need to warn him that ridicule is a possibility for little boys who wear pink and purple boots.

But one of my and DH strong rules of parenting is "No scary stories." We are honest and open and matter of fact but we do not try to influence DS by telling him scary stories about what bad things will happen if he does this or that or takes this risk, etc. (My parents are huge on scary stories as a teaching tool and I think it leads to undo fear of the world and its many adventures). We try to instill caution but not fear for the most part.

So, introducing the concept of ridicule seemed to fall into the "scary story" category for me.

I settled on asking, "So are you OK with the wearing these even if a lot of people will think its sort of different for a boy to wear them?"

DS: "Yup."

We bought them.

On the way home, he is quiet for a while and then he says, "People are silly."
Me, " Why is that?"
DS: " Because they think pink and purple are only for girls."

At home Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle and DH all greeted the new boots with enthusiasm--my parents and brothers, while not being as open to defying gender rules as DH and I, love DS so much that he will never receive anything but acceptance from them.

But DH and I both share a fear of what will happen when the purple boots venture into public in this rural community where all boys seem to have the same crew cut and similarly themed boy wardrobes. Where he has already learned such terms as "sissy" from the gaggle of brothers who live next door. (He has no idea what it means and only used it the once in a rather comic way. Said while we were miles up in the air on a plane: "Those clouds are too sissy for me.")

I guess I'm just wondering how we prepare to meet the world that has such silly gender rules without getting hurt. Or just being a kid from a different family--the fact that we let him wear purple boots isn't the only thing that sets him apart here...
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#2 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 02:07 AM
 
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I don't have any advice, but I completely sympathize with everything you say. We're going to pick boots soon too, and will very likely end up in a similar situation. I think you handled it perfectly. I hope no one gives him a hard time.

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#3 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 03:58 AM
 
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my 3 year old loves tools, trucks,and anything pink.

my line and the one he gives people is that some people like pink and that's okay. and some people don't like pink and that's okay too.

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#4 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 05:17 AM
 
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I think that you and your husband need to differentiate between scary stories and preparation. When that's done maybe talk to your son about what some people might say to him and what he can say if they do. You can start teaching him to face the world as his is with pride! Something simple like "They're just colours!"

Anyway, purple and pink are big colours in this house. DD's favourite is purple, DS's favourite is pink.

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#5 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 05:59 AM
 
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I love your kid!!! "People are silly," indeed.

He's done a great thing by being willing to be different, knowing ahead of time that he is going to be different. I think you handled all of that just right -- you didn't make being different seem scary, but still made sure he was aware that this would not be a common choice.

So from here on out, I think you just provide lots of affirmative support for the idea that gender doesn't determine what we get to do and what we actually like. Sometimes it determines what people THINK they can like, and that's "silly," as he said.

There are so many opportunities to set an example about that for your kid so he knows he is defending an important value by embracing his wish for purple & pink boots.

Whenever we go through the McDonalds drive through line (which perhaps you do not, which I totally respect!), I chafe at the question about Happy Meal toys "is it for a girl or for a boy?" I refuse to answer it that way, and my 6 year old DD knows this. She gets kind of a kick out of it. She more often than not wants the "girl toy," but she is TOTALLY in league with me in not describing it that way. And sometimes just to be perverse, and sometimes because she really wants it, she insists she wants the "boy toy." So we always work together to subvert the question. "Is it for a girl or a boy?" "We'd like the American Girl book this time" or "She'd prefer the Batman toy this time."

So I guess the point of that story is -- just find ways of supporting your boy's insight about the silliness of people who would deny a boy some purple boots, maybe with discussions about things that have nothing to do with the boots. That way he is well equipped to think about not only the boots but also all the other ways gender expectations are enforced, and can make good decisions for himself & know how to defend them.

As I said, I love your kid!

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#6 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 06:20 AM
 
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My 3.5 year old will tell anyone who asks that his favorite color is pink, and he is in love with anything sparkly or glittery too. He has begun to say that "Pink is for girls" but he will also say that "boys can wear pink too!" which makes me happy. I have tried to pick out bright colors for him and have included pink and purple in his wardrobe right from the start. Some kids have called him a girl, and he doesn't even correct them. Just hoping that it helps to encourage self confidence as he grows and continues to love pink.

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#7 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 11:47 AM
 
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First. I'm a little jealous that you guys have enough rain that you require rain boots.

I love rain boots.

Anyway.. he's only four. Do you really think people would say something? Other than "Cool boots!". Will adults say something? Or just other kids?
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#8 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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First. I'm a little jealous that you guys have enough rain that you require rain boots.

I love rain boots.

Anyway.. he's only four. Do you really think people would say something? Other than "Cool boots!". Will adults say something? Or just other kids?
Well... we are in Oregon and, in addition to our normal wet winter, the rain barely stopped all summer, so I would love a break.

I think all the adults we encounter will just say, "Cool boots." Its mostly the neighbor boys I"m worried about at this point... they are just a very different breed of kid than DS has ever hung out with. DS loves playing with them... and mostly I just step back and let him navigate the relationship with them. So far, he has done this with exceptional grace and equinamity. For example, oldest neighbor boy tells DS that little brother doesn't like him--doesn't really faze DS in the least. He likes little brother and even asked if we could adopt him so he can have a brother of his own

To the PP who recommended preparation--I think you are right and I'm trying to think of how we can best do that. Any books out there that might touch on this?

Thanks for all of the responses. I'm glad there are other families out there like ours--- we tend to feel pretty alone here sometimes.

Yea for boys who like trucks and tools and anything pink!
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#9 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 12:38 PM
 
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This reminds me of going through a dollar store line with ds. He had a my little pony coloring book and quite proudly showed it off to the 30 something man behind us. Who then said "Why do you have that...it's for girls! Are you trying to be a girl?"..I shot the guy the look of death and was about to give him a piece of my mind when ds matter of factly said "horses arent for girls...horses are for everybodies...cowboys have horses!"

I was so proud of him!

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#10 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 12:41 PM
 
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http://www.amazon.com/Williams-Doll-...5083318&sr=1-1

That's all I could find.
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#11 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 12:48 PM
 
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Kudos to your son. When my DH was 14, he really really really really wanted these purple shoes. I don't remember what kind, maybe Converse sneakers or something. He bugged his frugal single mom for them until she finally relented. He remembers being thrilled with them, and the next morning he had them on his feet for school.

Some kid made some dumb comment about his shoes and he never wore them again.

He really regrets this, that some stupid lame comment from some kid he didn't even care about squashed his joy in his awesome new shoes. (His mom also made several remarks over time, too, about how he had to have them and never wore them. Sigh). So on behalf of my DH, three cheers to your strong son, and may he never forget how stupid it is that purple is verboten to half the world.

I'll also mention that the MOST POPULAR GUY in my high school (who had charisma and stage presence like a rock star, and in fact is famous enough today to have a wikipedia page) wore purple. A lot of it. Every day.

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#12 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 12:52 PM
 
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He can come play with my DS in his bright pink super hero cape. They'll have a ball.
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#13 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 01:58 PM
 
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When did purple get associated with being a "girl" color? I never thought of it as feminine unless you're talking lavender or something. I wonder if it is Dora.

My 3 year old son LOVED pink. At preschool one day he chose the pink bike to ride and he was told by the teachers pink is just for girls. Made me so mad.
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#14 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 09:08 PM
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Pink is a girly color. {shrug} It is a convention, but there it is. I would have gently steered my son to a more masculine set of boots, personally, just like I would steer him away from a tutu to a set of dungarees, if necessary. Gender roles are what they are; they're not going away; and I'd rather that my son fit into a normal gender role than an abnormal one.
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#15 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 09:36 PM
 
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Your DS sounds like an awesome kid! We have always encouraged DS to go beyond the traditional gender expectations, so he has a workbench and a dollhouse in his room, by his choice. It made me so happy to see him playing with the baby dolls and in the kitchen at preschool; even happier to see all the other little boys playing with those too without a "that's for girls" ever spoken.

He just started kindergarten and already the peer pressure is affecting him. He told me that during reading time all the boys pick Scooby Doo books because "Scooby Doo is just for boys"...yeah, told him otherwise but not sure he believes me. At least he is still his own person. He put Angelina Ballerina stickers all over his chest before bed. yeah for openminded children!
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#16 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 09:47 PM
 
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Oh, it is 100% cultural bias, that's it. Little boys do seem to favor trucks over dolls, in general, most of the time (no hard and fast rules here). But color--really? So culturally contrived!

Pink and Purple (pastelly) are childhood colors--they appeal to the young spirit, as they should. My 3 year old DS does wear a lot of blue and green, but I wouldn't stop him from wearing pink. Oh, right, he wears a little plastic pink flower ring on his thumb--he loves it. Doesn't bother me one bit!

He also loves mermaids, like loves them! He's also a bit too aggressive at times and loves dirt, construction vehicles, and pirates.

He likes what appeals to him, no understanding of cultural biases. He does not watch TV, videos, or otherwise and does not go to any kind of school/daycare. He plays with boys and girls equally, most of whom are being raised like him. I see no gender bias in his choices, yet, but when it happens, I'll accept it openly as simply a function of him living in this culture.
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#17 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 09:54 PM
 
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Pink is a girly color. {shrug} It is a convention, but there it is. I would have gently steered my son to a more masculine set of boots, personally, just like I would steer him away from a tutu to a set of dungarees, if necessary. Gender roles are what they are; they're not going away; and I'd rather that my son fit into a normal gender role than an abnormal one.
[In lieu of everything else I typed I post this instead]
Screw gender roles.
Real men wear pink

For every girl...

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#18 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 10:01 PM
 
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Gender roles are what they are; they're not going away; and I'd rather that my son fit into a normal gender role than an abnormal one.
I'd rather my child grow up comfortable in his own skin by exploring and expressing himself rather than risk forcing him into a narrow definition of gender. I know too many people who nearly died because their parents and society couldn't accept them for who they are. My son wore purple boots last winter, and often wears pink shirts now--but there is no mistaking him as a girl. A boy who likes pink and purple, and long curly hair.
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#19 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 10:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Iucounu View Post
Pink is a girly color. {shrug} It is a convention, but there it is. I would have gently steered my son to a more masculine set of boots, personally, just like I would steer him away from a tutu to a set of dungarees, if necessary. Gender roles are what they are; they're not going away; and I'd rather that my son fit into a normal gender role than an abnormal one.
Wow. Just wow.

And if your son refuses to be steered towards the person you want him to be will you still accept him? If you even have to think about this then some serious soul searching is in order.

Its perfectly acceptable for girls to like blue, so to deny a boy pink is hypocritical. If social convention is never challenged it will certainly never change.
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#20 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 11:15 PM
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I'll love my kid rich, poor, healthy, drug addict, whatever. But I don't want him to be a drug addict; I'd prefer that he were healthy.

Kids will very often emulate what they see, especially if it's coming from a role model. There's no harm in teaching your children a certain way to act; it's what parents have done throughout history. I don't see any harm in teaching a boy to be boyish, and I certainly wouldn't encourage him to be "open-minded" if that means actively encouraging him to be girlish in the eyes of others.

Perhaps this is because I simply have different ideas for what makes for a good life; I'd rather my son were a scientist, artist, etc. than focus his energy on exploding gender stereotypes. I actually see value in exploding gender stereotypes, but don't see it as necessary for my son. I'd be happy enough for him to simply be normal in that way. No muss, no fuss.
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#21 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 11:29 PM
 
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I hope he continues to love them. My friends son loved pink, had a pink backpack for school. No one commented.

My daughter likes *boy things* she is having a Spiderman birthday this weekend. Last year it was race cars. She is starting hockey this year.

She also loves velour, and sequins and pretty girl things.

If anyone made fun of her I would speak to them.
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#22 of 167 Old 09-21-2010, 11:41 PM
 
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The boys in this thread are awesome! You guys are doing something right.

ETA: including you, musiciandad!
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#23 of 167 Old 09-22-2010, 12:04 AM
 
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Some kids will naturally be geared towards pink things or dolls or whatever. And some will be naturally geared towards trucks and tools and dirt, etc.
Most kids have a natural like for all of these things, but are not given the opportunity to check out "the way the other side lives".

Great for letting your son have the boots her desired. If anyone says anything about it you can just have a talk with him and reiterate what you already said, that some people think that purple with pink are colours for boys. And let him know that you (and some other people) think they are colours for people who like them. If he continues to like "girl things" he will come up against ridicule for that. That is a fact of life. In pretty much any society, people will ridicule you for not following "the rules". Only time will tell whether he denies himself some of his pleasure in exchange for following the rules. Some kids do and some kids dont. Continue to support him either way and he will be fine.

My little brother-in-law was INFATUATED with barbie as a kid. He also loved to dress up in clothes from the dress up box, which included his sisters old ballet recital costumes. But he really, really loved barbie. By the time he was 8 or 9 he wasn't playing with Barbie anymore. I asked him about it and got the impression from his answer that kids from school teased him about it.
I told him that I understood, and that it was hard to be teased. I also told him that I understood if that meant he didn't want to play with Barbies anymore. He still did for a while at home, where it was safe to. But he stopped letting that part of his personality come out amongst his peers at school.

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#24 of 167 Old 09-22-2010, 12:23 AM
 
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I actually see value in exploding gender stereotypes, but don't see it as necessary for my son. I'd be happy enough for him to simply be normal in that way. No muss, no fuss.
Right now, my older daughter is sleeping in pajamas that feature dinosaurs driving around in cars. Dear God, I hope she is not viewed as abnormal!

An acquaintance of mine used to carry around a v pink & flowery diaper bag. She had a son. People constantly asked her if she had thought that he was going to be a girl. Her answer was that, no, she knew he was going to be a boy but that SHE was still a girl and SHE liked the pink diaper bag. Since SHE was the one carrying around, she decided to buy the one that she liked the best

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#25 of 167 Old 09-22-2010, 12:59 AM
 
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Our 3y has purple shoes with bright orange laces. He loves them and DH picked them out.
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#26 of 167 Old 09-22-2010, 01:01 AM
 
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I'll love my kid rich, poor, healthy, drug addict, whatever. But I don't want him to be a drug addict; I'd prefer that he were healthy.

Kids will very often emulate what they see, especially if it's coming from a role model. There's no harm in teaching your children a certain way to act; it's what parents have done throughout history. I don't see any harm in teaching a boy to be boyish, and I certainly wouldn't encourage him to be "open-minded" if that means actively encouraging him to be girlish in the eyes of others.

Perhaps this is because I simply have different ideas for what makes for a good life; I'd rather my son were a scientist, artist, etc. than focus his energy on exploding gender stereotypes. I actually see value in exploding gender stereotypes, but don't see it as necessary for my son. I'd be happy enough for him to simply be normal in that way. No muss, no fuss.
Why is liking pink or purple, or wearing pink or purple being "girlish"? I know plenty of men who are very un-girlish who like wearing pink because it makes them look good.

Why not just be happy that he'd expending energy being himself than wasting it trying to conform to gender stereotypes? Boy who like pink aren't "focusing energy on exploding gender stereotypes". They are just being who they are, and being happy with who they are, regardless of what others think. It takes way more energy and way more emotional pain to "fit in".

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#27 of 167 Old 09-22-2010, 07:41 AM
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Why is liking pink or purple, or wearing pink or purple being "girlish"?
Pink is generally seen as a girlish color in our culture. I didn't make the rules. I don't particularly know why pink was chosen as a color mostly for girls here in the US, but I treat it as I do other aspects of dress in our culture. I don't teach my son to dress like a punk rocker from Russia; I don't teach him to dress like an Australian aborigine in tribal garb; I teach him to dress like an American little boy.

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I know plenty of men who are very un-girlish who like wearing pink because it makes them look good.
I don't, but we obviously travel in different circles. And that's fine, and I teach my son to be tolerant of others. In the meantime, I encourage him to wear pants instead of dresses, and other colors instead of pink.
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#28 of 167 Old 09-22-2010, 04:34 PM
 
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My ds occasionally wears girl clothes - I generally buy "masculine" clothes for him, but sometimes he borrows from his big sister or we have a hand-me-down too good to pass up (like good-quality pink sneakers with hardly any wear). He just has no conception that they are "girly" and doesn't think twice about putting on a pink shirt or whatever, and I don't want to make a big deal out of something that shouldn't be a big deal.

Honestly, no one has ever commented. I think this sort of thing is not such a big deal anymore, at least in a lot of places...
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#29 of 167 Old 09-22-2010, 05:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Iucounu View Post
Pink is generally seen as a girlish color in our culture. I didn't make the rules. I don't particularly know why pink was chosen as a color mostly for girls here in the US, but I treat it as I do other aspects of dress in our culture. I don't teach my son to dress like a punk rocker from Russia; I don't teach him to dress like an Australian aborigine in tribal garb; I teach him to dress like an American little boy.



I don't, but we obviously travel in different circles. And that's fine, and I teach my son to be tolerant of others. In the meantime, I encourage him to wear pants instead of dresses, and other colors instead of pink.
But why? You keep saying "I'll teach him to.." and all that jazz, but why? Why is it so freakin' important for him to be just like all the other little boys in the country (though he wouldn't really, plenty of American boys like and wear "feminine" things.)

I mean, come one, even the fashion industry is starting to accept the fact that men in pink is a good thing in the eyes of many women in the US.

Why insist on maintaining the status quo, when the status quo not only wants to change, but needs to change?

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#30 of 167 Old 09-22-2010, 10:52 PM
 
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I think it is more important to teach our children self confidence, then to force them into a bubble we think they belong in.

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