My boy wants a dress - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 19 Old 12-08-2001, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My ds, 3 1/2, pretends he's a girl a lot. His best friend is a girl and he has a new little sister, plus his babysitters all of whom he admires are all girls. So anyhow, he's asked me for a dress. My dh would probably say noway-or at the least be bummed or embarassed that his natural athlete who hits homeruns and tackles him now wants to wear dresses. But despite this I'm considering getting him what he wants and at least he can pretend at home. He likes when I put barrettes in his hair, but they don't last long before he takes them out. Anyone else have any experience or advice in this area? I'd like to go with the flow but you should see the looks we get when he introduces himself as Rebecca or Sara or Sal!
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#2 of 19 Old 12-08-2001, 10:35 PM
 
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#3 of 19 Old 12-08-2001, 10:47 PM
 
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When dd was about 2 1/2 I started a 'dress up' box for her, including some very fluffy and frilly hand-me-down dresses. These were my friend's son's favorite things!

I think it's a natural thing, especially when there are a lot of females around, and the boy sees the girls getting lots of attention for the way they are dressed. No one says to a boy, "Oh, you look so cute, spin around and let me see your denim pants and t-shirt..."

If you don't like the idea of letting him play 'dress-up' in a dress, maybe you could have a couple of costumes for him to wear, such as animal costumes, or "farmer clothes".
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#4 of 19 Old 12-09-2001, 12:32 PM
 
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Hi kdmama,
My husband read your post and has a really good solution...get him a kilt! Real men wear skirts anyway, of course without underwear, which may come in very handy for your little guy. I've always been very interested in the idea of gender bending. Mothering magazine published a really good article on this very subject, "The Boy in the Blue Tutu," by Lisen Stromberg, March/April 1999 (get out those valuable back issues or see if you can borrow it off of someone).
The soul is androgynous anyway.

Peace,
Amie
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#5 of 19 Old 12-09-2001, 02:04 PM
 
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I would just go to the thrift store and get him a dress.
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#6 of 19 Old 12-10-2001, 12:53 AM
 
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My ds has never wanted a dress....but he loves my shoes and want to play in makeup! So I let him....what's it going to hurt?
If he still wants to do it at age 15....then you can wonder!
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#7 of 19 Old 12-10-2001, 03:38 AM
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I learned in psych classes that if you let children explore gender identity when young, they are less likely to be unsure of themselves as teens. a self-concept thing.

I like the kilt idea, and you could always show him how other races and ages have depicted men in skirts, dresses, or flowing robes.

have fun!
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#8 of 19 Old 12-10-2001, 09:06 PM
 
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...lipstick and glitter---and pink is one of his favorite colors. And orange and green and bright blue. And he really likes girls.

"Black is a boy color and pink is a girl color" a friend told him last week. "But I'm a boy and I like pink, and I don't care what he says," my five year old told us matter-of-factly.


Society will have plenty of time to imprint traditional stereotypes on our children. As parents do we really want to aid and abet? The couple of dress-wearing boys I knew have grown up into very nice young men. My opinion: buy him a dress.
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#9 of 19 Old 12-11-2001, 08:12 PM
 
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I second your opinion Britt.

BTW, this tread brings to mind this cute, quirky French movie that came out a few years back - I think the name was 'My Life in Pink (Ma Vie en Rose) about, well, a little boy that wants to wear dresses.
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#10 of 19 Old 12-11-2001, 10:52 PM
 
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My 3yo DS has not asked for a dress. BUT he LOVES to put on jewelry. I have a large box of old costume jewelry (that I' will never ever wear ) DS loves putting as many things as he can possibly get on him all at the same time. I don't think there is any problem whatsoever with it. We are talking about pretty glittery things, whether it's a pretty dress or a pretty necklace-- let your DS have fun. You would not tell NO to a girl who wanted to wear a toy hard hat or play with Dad's tools (O.K. so you might be careful about the tools, from the safety standpoint, but you don't see anything wrong with a girl doing it, right?) SO why is it any different with a boy wanting ot do a "girly" thing?
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#11 of 19 Old 12-12-2001, 12:44 AM
 
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Although my ds is still too young to request an outfit, dh and I were just talking this over recently. I have no issue with dresses, especially while they are younger (only because I don't want them to deal with rude people who think they have the freedom to speak into your life when you didn't give it to them). Anyway, what about a cool guatamalen dress, something tiedye, second hand sounds great too. Enjoy!
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#12 of 19 Old 12-12-2001, 09:39 PM
 
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I think your instinct to 'just go with the flow' is a good one! Go ahead and get him a dress...

My ds has always loved dressing up in long flowing clothes - especially when he was 3-5 yrs. old. He often wore one of my old broomstick skirts as a toga/cape, barrettes, jewelry, etc. He is now six and still chooses to be a female character during imaginative play with me. When he plays with his friends he never does this.

The one thing I did to control the situation was to not allow him to be 'dressed up' outside our home. I just said "We don't wear dress up clothes when we shop, go to pre school, etc."

Have fun!!
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#13 of 19 Old 12-13-2001, 10:25 PM
 
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and hates dress-up. This makes me crazy because I lived for dress-up for about seven years of my childhood! I was every princess, etc. Dd was a king for Halloween. But it was a one-time thing. She doesn't dress-up every day. I guess I'm saying this because of the other comments about "we wouldn't have a problem if a little girl did x" that wasn't "feminine". I LOVE costumes, and so I love the idea of exploring other cultures/eras. Jesus wore a "dress." It's just hard sometimes to just let these kids be themselves when it's "different" from the mean. Katie has train playdates with a four-year old friend, and dh and I discussed that in 10 years would we let our 13 yo daughter "play" alone in a 14 yo boys room? :-)
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#14 of 19 Old 12-19-2001, 01:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for all the feedback! I think a dress up box with different costumes, clothes (yes, dresses too), kilts, jewelry, etc. is the way to go. My sister and I played dress up all the time when we were kids. Creativity creates knowledge, right. Anyhow, this is what my gut said to do too. But I really needed to hear it. Thanks!
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#15 of 19 Old 02-25-2002, 05:34 PM
 
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It doesn't sound like wearing a dress could hurt him...

The high school I went to was very liberal and a lot of the guys wore skirts to school. It was great.

If my dd wanted to wear pants, cowboy boots, or other "boy's clothes" I'd let her...one of her baby suits says "Daddy's Helper" and has pictures of tools on it. We dress her in blue all the time just to confuse people. It's so much fun!
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#16 of 19 Old 02-25-2002, 06:14 PM
 
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My little brother grew up in a familiy daycare with me and 4 other girls. He had no idea there even were other boys in the world I don't think LOL!
He wore makeup, nailpolish, curlers in his hair and all the dress-up clothes. He had a blast. Maybe Dad was a little nervous, I don't know. But he grew up to be the top baseball player in high school, has a very promising (very, very) career in computer security, and is quite attatched to a wonderful young woman who our whole family adores.
My ds also loves all the bright colors and combos in clothes usually associated with girls. He is fortunate to have 2 grammas and a mamma who sew. So we take him to the fabric store and let him pick out fabric for his clothes. His favorite outfit for church is cords (khaki), a red shirt, and royal blue vest and tie. You can see him comin' a mile away, but those girls get to wear glitter and organza, and flowers and all--so he can wear the bright colors he loves! He hasn't asked for a dress. He did ask for ballet slippers, but we were looking for winter shoes and I had to say no just because ballet slippers are not good snow shoes.
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#17 of 19 Old 02-26-2002, 01:59 AM
 
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I'd get him one. When my dd was 2, her best friend (a boy), whose mom was my close friend, was way into dresses. She bought him several at the thrift store and he wore them a lot. He was such a confident kid that he didn't care what other kids said. Once at school, a boy said to him, "boys don't wear dresses", his response, "I'm a boy and I wear dresses". They've moved away so I don't see them anymore, but my friend told me that now, at age 6, he doesn't wear dresses anymore. I don't know when he stopped. She felt very strongly that if you repress this they will just do it in private or feel unsupported. Plus, even if they do turn into cross-dresses (which is probably quite unlikely), they will still need your support.
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#18 of 19 Old 02-27-2002, 05:23 PM
 
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According to What to Expect the First Year, a boy over the age of three who wants to wear dresses or do other "feminine" things is showing signs of "early homosexuality!" That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
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#19 of 19 Old 02-27-2002, 06:30 PM
 
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Bekka, give that girl a train! So glad to hear she has train play dates with a friend...I wanted a train my whole childhood, but no one took me seriously until I was about 11. I said something to my grandfather in, like the middle of July, and he took me to the Sears and bought me a Lionel electric train set. I played with it for hours, and it's one of my few surviving toys to pass on. Of course, I'll probably have a daughter who wants to dress up! and that's cool too.

As for the boy in dresses, my best friend's son's favorite outfit when he was 8 and 9 was a slinky, metallic, lurex skirt. This year (he's 10), someone brought a bag of hand me downs--mostly boy clothes--and his favorite was a woman's yellow polyester shell...which was fine with his Mom although she did suggest he wear something different to the grocery store. I think it helps that he's in a supportive community and no one bothers him when he dresses up at home. There are gays and lesbians in our community, and none of us are worried about him being homosexual. Either he is or he isn't...or maybe he's bisexual, but our general concensus is that what he wants to wear or play in has little to do with it. Also, no one's really attached to him being particular sexual orientation other than other than some concerns that life is just a little more complicated if you're gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

Glad to see that the responses here are supportive. I agree that making wanting a dress taboo for a boy is likely to create more difficulties than it solves.

Love,
Sarah
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