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#1 of 99 Old 02-13-2005, 07:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#2 of 99 Old 02-13-2005, 08:54 PM
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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!!
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#3 of 99 Old 02-13-2005, 10:38 PM
 
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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.

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#4 of 99 Old 02-13-2005, 11:56 PM
 
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if i were his mom i'd just be afraid that he'd be teased.
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#5 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 12:07 AM
 
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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!

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#6 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 12:17 AM
 
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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!

 

 

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#7 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 12:37 AM
 
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NoraJadesMama - Just wanted to say "HI!" How are you? Email me woman!
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#8 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 12:48 AM
 
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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)
http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/ne...item_1075.html
Quote:
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.

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#9 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 12:53 AM
 
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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

 

 

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#10 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 01:03 AM
 
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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.

Quote:
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:

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."
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#11 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 01:04 AM
 
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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!
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#12 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 01:09 AM
 
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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.
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#13 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 01:20 AM
 
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thismama

i have the cutest pic of elwynn in a mini skirt and cowboy hat.. im goin gto put in in our picture album

 

 

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#14 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 01:30 AM
 
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well, i cant find it.. but when i do i will

 

 

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#15 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 10:28 AM
 
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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!

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#16 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 12:42 PM
 
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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.
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#17 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 01:27 PM
 
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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!
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#18 of 99 Old 02-14-2005, 02:37 PM
 
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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!

 

 

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#19 of 99 Old 02-23-2005, 04:14 PM
 
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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.
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#20 of 99 Old 02-23-2005, 04:37 PM
 
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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.
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#21 of 99 Old 02-23-2005, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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nak

thanks everyone
great stories!

mamas of boys who've had long hair:
i'd love to hear descriptions of the hair style/cut. my son wants long hair with bangs, like his sister used to have. i'm trying to steer him toward growing it all out so his very haircut doesn't scream "GIRL" to everyone.
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#22 of 99 Old 02-23-2005, 07:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NoraJadesMama
mamas of boys who've had long hair:
i'd love to hear descriptions of the hair style/cut. my son wants long hair with bangs, like his sister used to have. i'm trying to steer him toward growing it all out so his very haircut doesn't scream "GIRL" to everyone.
You can see my son's hair here:

http://www.ghosts.org/annika/

It's longer than that in the back now but he does keep his bangs trimmed to just above his eyes because he doesn't like his hair in his face. It doesn't look girly at all, to me anyway. I think as long as it's "shaggy" it won't look that girlish.
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#23 of 99 Old 02-23-2005, 08:55 PM
 
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There are far more important battles to pick with our dc then appearances!!

mp

(dh is a former punk-rocker...in highschool he would dress in pink,dye his hair orange,etc..he graduated #3 at the top of a class of 522 poeple. 4.0 in College. Professional cyclist for 13 years, now Art Director of an AD firm. He is good at everything he does,and is true to himself. He has worn pants only 5-10 times in the 18 yrs we've been together. Birks everyday. Never has worn a tie-except to our wedding-AND IT WAS A BRIGHT PINK BOWTIE!!!! :LOL )
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#24 of 99 Old 02-23-2005, 11:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoraJadesMama
mamas of boys who've had long hair:
i'd love to hear descriptions of the hair style/cut. my son wants long hair with bangs, like his sister used to have. i'm trying to steer him toward growing it all out so his very haircut doesn't scream "GIRL" to everyone.
I hear ya. DS's hair was an odessy from the start--started out long and just got longer. I was in the habit when he was a babe of keeping the bangs and the rest trimmed up (just easier) and then at about 18 months--2 years, it just started growing out. At that age, he wasn't about to let me cut more than I had to, but he wasn't thrilled with hair in his eyes so I kept the bangs trimmed and trimmed around the rest only once and awhile. It was definitely dutch boyish and CUTE, but then he was 2 so I think we got away with it. He was called a girl often however, and while now at the role play stage, I think he'd LOVE that, he was confused and maybe a little upset by it then. He asked me to cut his hair somewhere before 3 and now it grows out to varying degrees (we only manage to cut it a couple of times a year). He was actually planning on growing it long the last time (bangs and all) until I came home having had my long hair cut short. He then decided it was time for him to get a cut as well. As far as bangs vs. no bangs, I'm with you... and I know several boys who LOOK like boys who have their hair this way and they look darned adorable! If DS changes his mind back, I'd say more power to him. At least he's got beautiful hair. My just got long and well, stringy. :

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Em

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#25 of 99 Old 02-23-2005, 11:53 PM
 
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mamas of boys who've had long hair:
i'd love to hear descriptions of the hair style/cut. my son wants long hair with bangs, like his sister used to have. i'm trying to steer him toward growing it all out so his very haircut doesn't scream "GIRL" to everyone.
DS had one length hair. He is currently growing it out again but since it is only about 1" long it will be a really long time!

That said, in some ways the bangs cut makes it more "boyish" because in that growing out stage you have to keep it off their face and how do you do that?.... well, clips and scrunchies of course, lol, which definately screams "girl"

 

 

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#26 of 99 Old 02-24-2005, 11:34 AM
 
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My oldest DS used to dress up in dresses, had an Easy Bake oven, a Little Mermaid Barbie, asked for a dustbuster for Christmas one year, has grown his hair out (and then shaved it...and is growing it out again now)...oh! And he just LOVED his sister's Pocahontas jammies and wore them until they were holey.

He's almost 10, and though he doesn't dress in dresses anymore (he's what would be labeled a "jock")...he still loves to cook and run his dustbuster!
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#27 of 99 Old 02-24-2005, 12:58 PM
 
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He's almost 10, and though he doesn't dress in dresses anymore (he's what would be labeled a "jock")...he still loves to cook and run his dustbuster!
That is so funny, and wonderful! :LOL

I also hate how girls are allowed, and often encouraged to be masculine. But somehow allowing our boys to be feminine "turns them gay". So sad. I think that allowing them to express themselves in that way will make them confident and successful.
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#28 of 99 Old 02-24-2005, 01:25 PM
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I am going to answer this from a teacher's point of view and experience. It depends on where you live, who your son hangs out with, how good his self esteem his, who his friends are, etc. I used to teach in a school with mostly African American kids. There was one little white boy who had long curly hair, like to dress in girl's clothes and wear things like beaded necklaces and feather boas. African American boys tend to place a high value on masculinity and some of them teased this boy a lot. Some of the other white boys did, too. These were all fourth and fifth graders. His mom was in the office regularly to defend him and the teasers were constantly being reprimanded and had to do some lessons in respect. It did not really help. The mom eventually moved him to an alternative school in our city that is more arts oriented. I hear he is much happier and is around kids who also like to dress against the grain.

It would have been nice if the other boys had just let this little guy be himself but peer pressure is a nasty thing. It was better for the boy to be in an environment that promoted and supported acting artistically than in the more sports oriented environment in which I taught. On the other hand, I recently ran across a little person at the playground wearing pink pants, a yellow sweatshirt and having really great, long, blond curly hair with bangs. I told my dd to let the other girl go first and was told by the little guy that she was a he. We had a nice little talk about how my dd has short hair and was wearing navy at the time and gets mistaken for a boy sometimes. The little guy was about five and seemed quite used to this mistake and was really great about it. So, it really depends on the situation and the kid. However, as boys get older, especially as they approach middle school, peer pressure starts to set in and they get really nervous about their own masculinity. They show it, at times, by defending what they think is right and teasing anyone different. It is all a way of boosting their own self esteem. Mostly, they are not intending to be mean but they can be.

So, my advice is to just take it one day at a time and keep communicating with your little guy and just figure it out as you go. But, there will be teasing, especially as he gets older, so prep him for it and talk to his teachers and other parents and try to keep him in an environment that is supportive.
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#29 of 99 Old 02-24-2005, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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hmm, interesting to hear the different perspectives on bangs.

lckrause: I agree that your boy looks like a boy with bangs. Do you sort of taper the cut as you move from the forehead to the ears, sort of like a curve? What my dd had was the straight bangs cut and then long hair going down on the sides; that seems avoidable.

As for how he keeps the hair out of his eyes, for now he sort of swoops it out of the way. He loves barrettes and hairbands but they don't stay in for long.

kathipaul: thank you for your stories. For now he's homeschooling and everyone's supportive. If he went to public school I'd live in fear; not sure what I'd do. Even so, there will still be times when he gets flack, I have no doubt. For now he seems pretty strong about it; the risks seem to be in balance with his ability to cope with them.

It's funny, he's "all boy" in so many ways. He is rough and tumble, loves trains, etc. But he has a fashion flair, what can he say? :LOL My dad calls him a linebacker in a dress.

btw there's a great mothering article on this topic:
http://www.mothering.com/articles/gr...blue_tutu.html
The author started a group called support our sons:
http://www.supportingoursons.org/misc/jobs.cfm

Not sure what road we're on but I'm along for the ride. Parenting is such an adventure.
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#30 of 99 Old 02-24-2005, 06:12 PM
 
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My sons- 2 1/2 and 8- tend to keeo their hair long. We just keep it one length- their rare haircuts ( once or twice a year) are with the neighbor's Flowbee. Since they tend to wear lots of Ren dress up, it works and still looks masculine enough for my dh. While it doesn't matter to me, dh is really strict on them not wearing girly stuff- they know there clothes they can only wear when dad's not home. The 2 yo actually loves his sister's dance wear, and plans to take ballet when he is 3 AND potty trained. (But, he will be in the "boy uniform" so dh is not complaining).
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