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#1 of 20 Old 04-24-2008, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all:

My sweet 2.75 boy twin is going through a wonderful pretend, dress-up, performance stage. He and his twin sister are often dancers or musicians putting on a show. He adores playing his ukelele and pretending it is all sorts of instruments. In the past few weeks we've seen a Dan Zanes concert and then their cousin took part in a 3-hour dance concert with a series of short dances all requiring costume changes. So, it's really been a theme around here. At his family day care there is an ice skating leotard and skirt he likes to dance in.

Of course we have a dress-up basket and of course there are dresses in the dress-up basket and he loves to put them on to perform. He and his sister share many of their gender neutral clothes and very rarely, he will ask to dress up in one of her dresses, which I let him.

I'm anticipating and wondering what others do when the request comes to wear a dress outside the house. Personally, I don't care, but as soon as we meet any stranger (or friend!) he will be faced with whatever judgements or misperceptions that person has and so I worry for him and of course want to protect him. I don't think he really even knows that "dresses are for girls" and since even the most innocent response he would get is that people would think he was a girl (his hair isn't long, it's never been cut but is still infant wispy--he doesn't have much and neither does my daughter yet!).

I actually think that one time he did want to wear his costume somewhere and I just said "I think we're going to leave the costumes home today and wear our regular clothes to the store...." if he had persisted I might have let him but he didn't care and changed into his clothes and off we went.

What have others done with this? I love the creativity and passion and the fact that they just go for what they like and are so uninhibited--but I don't want his feelings hurt out in the big wide world. I hate to reinforce any of the boys are like this and girls are like that because frankly in so many areas he is really a boy boy--very boisterous and in love with fire trucks and machines and all of that stuff.....I like this other aesthetic that he's playing with.

Sorry such a long post! Any experiences/ideas welcome.

Ninafel
b/g twins 8/05
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#2 of 20 Old 04-24-2008, 12:42 PM
 
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Your ds sounds a lot like my nearly 4 year old ds. My dd is 6, so he has plenty of dresses and leotards around. He's worn a pink velour leotard to the bus stop, an everyone thought it was great. Nobody said anything directly to him, but other moms all told me it was so cute. Many of their boys had done similar things. He saw a dress at Target that he wants, and if they still have it next time we go, I'll get it for him. If he wants to wear it out and about, I'll tell him that some people think only boys wear dresses, but that just isn't true. He's worn nail polish before, and a little girl told him it was only for girls. I laughed and said that absolutely isn't true. When we got home, I google some pics of Dave Navarro to prove it! :LOL
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#3 of 20 Old 04-24-2008, 01:00 PM
 
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I think I might have a hard time letting ds (5) wear a dress out and about, I would just get so fired up if someone said something negative!

He is wearing sparkley green nail polish now, a girl (6 or so) at the park told him she was going to call him girlyboy whenever she saw him. I don't think it really bothered him - he seemed to be having fun. I got so mad I walked up and said time to go! He begged to stay and play, I said no.

Now, I had already told him we only had five more minutes a bit before, so it wasn't out of the blue. I would not have made him leave if we had just got there. But I was not happy with my reaction. I will try to remember to laugh it off next time.

When he and I talked about it later he said he didn't like that she said that, but that HE knew it was fine for boys to wear polish.

-Sara, working Mom to Fletcher (2003) and Magnolia (2008):, wife to Jim the best SAHD in the world (1999) NVC has changed my life
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#4 of 20 Old 04-24-2008, 01:50 PM
 
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Xxx
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#5 of 20 Old 04-25-2008, 09:51 AM
 
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DS is just starting to no longer wear his sisters clothes (they are the same size) and fairy/princess clothing. He has never asked to wear them out of the house. I don't know if it's because he is often mistaken for a girl and he hates that or if he just knows that's something we do at home or in other play situations. Now he likes to create female characters, mostly because there is so much more interesting things girls can wear (I agree ), although his main character to represent himself is always a boy (like our Miis on our Wii). I think it's not something to worry about.
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#6 of 20 Old 04-25-2008, 11:03 AM
 
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My son loves to wear his sisters' clothes, and has worn skirts and dresses before. He doesn't know they're "for girls" and I would never teach him that they were. I teach both my kids that clothes are clothes, and anyone who wants to can wear any style.

People often mistake my son for a girl . . . big deal. He doesn't know/care and I don't care. Usually, I don't correct them on purpose.

My mom flips out on me for buying "girl clothes" for my son, but you know what? He likes them, and that's all that matters.

Proud Anti-Adoption, Atheist, Reproductive-Freedom Fighter Mama
Rylie is 7, Ronin is 3.5
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#7 of 20 Old 04-25-2008, 09:07 PM
 
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I nanny for a boy who had "pretty" clothes to wear whenever he wanted. It was an actual skirt and vest with beaded stuff on it. In his family he could wear it whenever he wanted. Although I don't know if they let him wear it in public. In the year+ that I've been watching them he has worn them once or twice (he was 4). Recently they got a box of costume clothes, and he has been wearing the pretty dresses a lot, however, the parents have asked me to keep it at the house because the father is worried about the boy being teased.

Personally, if my son wanted to wear dress up clothes out of the house that would be ok with me because he does not go to preschool or anything... just the bank and grocery stores, etc. I'm wondering who on earth would tease him at those places. I can see it's possible for a boy to get teased if he were to go to school in those clothes.... depending on the school.

I'm wondering about your fear of him getting teased? My son occasionally still gets confused for being a girl, so really when they are still you can really get away with more, perhaps than having a 10 year old who wants to wear a dress to school. Anyways, I guess it depends on where you are going, but I would think it extremely rude for adults to tease a child. And really, there are probably a lot of other boys who like dresses too. Anyways, I don't know how aware kids are about what others think of them, unless someone really speaks up. Other than that who cares what other people think?

My son wore a fireman costume today everywhere. He was a little embarrassed after one place where he said people kept talking to him... and I told him that they liked his fireman suit and they wanted to tell him so. It's not the same thing, yet it was odd to be wearing a costume no where near the day that is reserved for costumes.

Honestly, if you want to let your son decide then support him in that. I doubt that most people would say anything (but that's the norm for where I live). If there is an occasion or a place where a costume wouldn't be appropriate, I think it's ok to say what you have said.

The other thing to consider is that in other cultures men DO wear different styles of dresses. Maybe find some of those styles to balance things out... Because it's not just about him being forced into boys clothes, but girl clothes aren't the only kinds of dress up too... you can give them both the opportunity to try other clothes.

I want to add that you should figure out what YOUR feelings are about it, and at what age (if at all) you would be uncomfortable with your son wearing dresses. If you want to support him and be open about it, then by all means let him be... There are definitely ways to deal with what others say, if anything. If you're in a situation where teasing is inevitable, and you want to totally avoid that then feel comfortable setting some boundaries.
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#8 of 20 Old 04-25-2008, 11:29 PM
 
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DS started getting in touch with his feminine side at about 3 or so, perhaps a little younger. He loved Madeline, Laura Ingalls, Dorothy, Pippi the lot. He has always been taken with strong female characters. He dressed up frequently in dresses and if he was comfortable and wanted to go out like that, I let him, no questions asked, no worries.

He reached an age (5 or so) when he started to clue into the social environment (just happened naturally) and would choose to change before he left the house (and redress when we got home if he liked). However, he DID dress up as a witch for Halloween that year because he was "in love with "Mildred Hubble" (Worst Witch).

For me, I never wanted to give DS the impression that there was anything wrong with dressing like a girl if he wanted to (he was just as likely to be a bunny, or a tiger or a dinosaur--he was ALWAYS something, ALWAYS in character). His lean toward the feminine however, was strong enough that I wondered if this wouldn't be an on-going issue for him and more than anything, I wanted to convey my unconditional acceptance. I figured, at the end of the day, we can't control what other people are thinking (or saying!), but we can control how we feel about ourselves. I felt it better to allow DS to be confident in himself and learn some healthy resilience than to modify his actions in accordance with societal "norms" if you will. More important for DS to be confident in who he is.

He wouldn't go out in a dress now (I don't think), but he'll still occasionally like a character in a book or film enough to put on the dress at home... KiKi from KiKi's Delivery Service is recent one that comes to mind. Of course, because he wears his hair long and prefers light, close fitting clothes (leggings rather than sweats or jeans), he's mistaken for a girl ALL THE TIME. It doesn't bother him. What does bother him is if I don't gently correct people. Sometimes he'll do it, but often he's a little shy about it so we have a deal that if he doesn't speak up, I do.

When DS was younger and his hair was shorter, he was clearly a boy dressed as a girl. We rarely received any criticism/looks. In fact to date, I can only thing of one or two times his dressing or looking like a girl has brought criticism and that was from my own MOTHER. *sigh* But DS, bless his heart, didn't take it personally and proudly remarked, "My mommy made me a dress from one of her old shirts" and "I LIKE MY HAIR LONG GRANDMA! If it doesn't bother me, it shouldn't bother you." Amen.

What we've found is that most people (if they are secure in themselves and open minded) have no problem with this and we've received a number of truly sincere positive comments through the years. When we got some new neighbors a few years ago and our what they knew to be "our son" was parading around the yard as the one of the "Rainbow Fairies" our neighbors, a young married couple (30 or so) gave DH and I "the thumbs up" sign when we were heading out in the car one day. It was very sincere in a "he's a cool kid" kind of way and I admit, it was nice for someone other than DH and I to really appreciate this special thing about DS.

My .02 for what it's worth.

The best,
Em

P.S. Sorry, this got really long...

Em 43 - Wife to hubby Mom to DS born: Jan. '01
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#9 of 20 Old 04-25-2008, 11:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Embee View Post

For me, I never wanted to give DS the impression that there was anything wrong with dressing like a girl if he wanted to (he was just as likely to be a bunny, or a tiger or a dinosaur--he was ALWAYS something, ALWAYS in character). His lean toward the feminine however, was strong enough that I wondered if this wouldn't be an on-going issue for him and more than anything, I wanted to convey my unconditional acceptance. I figured, at the end of the day, we can't control what other people are thinking (or saying!), but we can control how we feel about ourselves. I felt it better to allow DS to be confident in himself and learn some healthy resilience than to modify his actions in accordance with societal "norms" if you will. More important for DS to be confident in who he is.
Those are my reasons EXACTLY for letting my kids dress however they wish, wherever they wish. I've just never been able to put it into words so eloquently.
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#10 of 20 Old 04-26-2008, 12:16 AM
 
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Just yesterday my kids were in my daughters room playing and when they came out my 5 yr. old ds was wearing his sisters jeans(highwaters on him!!) and a pink shirt. He said "Lily's letting me wear her clothes today." I was just like, "Aww, that's sweet, Im glad you guys are getting along so well today!" If he wanted to wear them out, I think I would let him. I definitely don't want him to think he's weird or anything! lol. My dh came home during this dress-up and laughed with the kids about it for a few minutes, then came up to me and says, "I don't like my boy in girls' clothes." Really, it was said jokingly, not at all serious or really upset by it.. But even he would never say anything negative in front of him about it....

Does anyone watch the show The Riches? I love that they have the little boy that dresses like a girl!
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#11 of 20 Old 04-28-2008, 03:25 PM
 
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my ds never wanted dresses or anything but he does have long hair. he also has a "pretty" face and is mistaken often for a girl given his androgynous name... Avery.

we all think its kind of funny and he laughs too....

who cares!!!

what I was going to say was, grow out his hair and let people think he is a girl, long hair and a dress .... no comments necessary.. LOL

(im being silly of course).

I should say DS is affected by culture though (he is almost 7) and while he likes his long hair he was concerned with looking like a girl and told the hairdresser he wanted the back shorter...... she cut it above his shoulders and layered it, which is fine bc his bangs are still growing out and she also commented that he looks very much like a boy, just more like older boys do, and not typical of 6/7 year olds.
We reminded him that the kids on his favorite band (naked brothers band) have long hair and dont look like girls.

i know im off course, but my point is that its ok to be different and if you can, let him wear the dress. Many people will probably assume he is a girl and wont even comment, yk?
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#12 of 20 Old 04-28-2008, 03:42 PM
 
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i can't believe a pp's kid wanted to dress up like kiki. i wouldn't be able to find a camera fast enough if ds did that. i LOVE that movie! i always thought i'd have the kid who wanted to wear dresses, but i can't get him to take off his frickin darth vader costume.

oh, and props to the kid who told off his grandma. my family used to "joke" with ds about his hair all the time. it hurt his feelings a lot... but he still kept it the way he wanted it! it's crappy that, in our world, he gets most dissed by family members but it's a good lesson about intolerance.

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#13 of 20 Old 04-28-2008, 03:44 PM
 
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DS(just turned 5) has always worn dresses, fairy clothes, my shoes, etc. When he was very small (before having DD) he didn't have much of his own, but our neighbor's daughter did, so they shared. Since DD came along, they both love to dress *both* genders. Sometimes they are ballerinas, sometimes daddies, sometimes babies, etc. It has never really crossed my mind whether it was weird. Though, if my sister's husband caught wind, I imagine he might make a comment.

As for wearing this out and about, DS no longer does. But, there was a time when he would wear what some might consider "pretty" or "girly" necklaces, he'd color his nails, or wear some fairy wings to the park. Never really had any issues, but had we, I would have addressed them directly with my DS. We'd probably talk about how some people don't think it's okay to wear a skirt/dress, etc if you are a boy...

BTW, we went to the Scottish Games on Saturday...you know...men in kilts, long hair, tattoes. DS and DD loved the clothes. DH wants a kilt...DS wants a kilt, long socks and a bag to go around his waist. It was a great time! And, we did not hear one comment about men in skirts!

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#14 of 20 Old 04-28-2008, 03:45 PM
 
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My son wore a dress the whole summer he was 4. He looked adorable and it was absolutely no big deal. Strangers thought he was a girl, so didn't say anything, and all our friends are cool, so they didn't, either. By the time the summer was over, so was the dress phase.
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#15 of 20 Old 04-28-2008, 03:46 PM
 
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This is my experience as a non-mother. I work at an up scale kid's resale shop and just the other day a mom and her little boy came in and asked for dress-up clothes. The little boy (around 3 or 4) had long-ish hair, a pink bracelet, and nail polish on and they ended up buying a minnie mouse dress, a pink pvc cat suit and a few other dresses. After they left one of my coworkers (mainstream with a capital M) told another of the girls about it. I said something along the lines of 'good for his parents for embracing their child' but tried to remain pretty neutral (this coworker and I have gotten into pretty heated discussion before) and the girl she was telling the story to agreed with me. I think that generally the response would be ok. There are always going to be people with prejudices but if you talk to your son about it and the decisions are his I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be able to wear is dresses out.
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#16 of 20 Old 04-28-2008, 03:52 PM
 
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BTW,
My DC just came out of the playroom as mommies with their babies. DS is carrying a purse and wearing DD's necklaces...

I am actually glad to see he still does this. I have worried lately that he is becoming more aware of the gender issues among kids (his male cousins are older nad athletes and *very* much "boys"), but so far it has only mildly changed his views.

Darcy mama to Dillon, Marah and Leo, partner to Jeremy
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#17 of 20 Old 04-28-2008, 05:18 PM
 
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This thread has been so helpful. DS has been dressing as fairies, princesses, a bride, and mommy since he was around 3. He is now approaching 5 and seems to be more enthusiastic than ever in his feminine exploration. Last night he wanted to "play baby" which meant that he wanted to pretend to be in my womb again and be born. First he suggested that he be the mommy who was pregnant until I convinced him that I would not fit under his shirt as the baby...My DH and I have always supported his dressing-up even when DS seemed convinced he was not "playing" and he was really trying to be a girl by dressing like one. He has gone out of the house in pink tutu and lacy leotard top to play at the park. DS has made comments recently that "when he dies and becomes another person (we are Buddhist), he wants to be a girl." and he told me (close to a year ago now) he "wished he had been born a girl". Does anyone know the developmental literature on this? My DH is beginning to express concern that he is not a strong enough role model as a male figure in my DS's life. My instinct tells me this is purely developmental and nothing to be "worried" about.
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#18 of 20 Old 04-28-2008, 07:41 PM
 
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if your partner is kind, loving, and respectful to you and your child he is already a great role model. what else should he do? be a fireman? grow a beard? drink beer and spit? i'd talk to eachother about the kind of man you imagine ds becoming and see where it goes from there. strong men do not all look or act alike and, yes, some wear dresses.

i don't think it's time to wonder whether he's going to want a gender reassignment down the road (or if he's just waiting to be reincarnated ). all i'd do now is point out how fluid gender can be (how he could grow up to be a doula or decide to marry another man) and especially focus on how you love his outsides no matter what, but that the insides are most important.

ooh! you could also watch this:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119590/

"Ludovic is a small boy who cross-dresses and generally acts like a girl, talks of marrying his neighbor's son and can not understand why everyone is so surprised about it."

it's a very beautiful, very moving film. it's probably more for you and dh than ds, but still a great watch.

sorry to get ranty. HTH.

trying to mother my 11yo sweet skaterboy, 4yo stepgirl of the universe, this apocalypse babe-on-the-way, and my 36yo innerkid ...while figuring how to market myself, stay married, and murder my ego
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#19 of 20 Old 04-29-2008, 12:23 AM
 
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Well DS loves wearing dresses and once when we were getting ready to go the Y he said, "Me dess today"
My heart sank. not b/c I think anything is wrong with him wearing them but I am already the crazy mom who homeschools and wont leave her kids to cry in the babysitting room. My DS had long hair and I was just feeling like people were gonna think I was trying to make him look "cutesey"
so with all my baggage attached i said, "Ok..but it's chilly wear some pants under it"
He agreed. He looked so cute and dontcha know one of the workers said, "first the long hair now a dress"
I said, "he likes them"
and went about my business.
truthfully it was not easy for me to have him wear the dress but not b/c of me thinking it was weird but b/c of the other judgements of ME not him. Crazy right?
however I did let him do it so there you go.

BTW this past Halloween he insisted on being Dorothy and truthfully you couldn't find a better Dorothy in all of OZ.

Am I right?
My little Dorothy

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#20 of 20 Old 04-29-2008, 02:39 AM
 
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I used to dress my little brother up in my mom's tube tops.

If my ds wants to wear a dress or a skirt at some point, whatever. His sister has quite the wardrobe; I'm sure she will share. I get worked up about enough things. This is one where I just won't.

hipumpkins - your ds makes a kick-@$$ Dorothy!

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