Monday, July 14, 2014

The Whole Letting Your Toddler Wear Whatever They Want Debacle

Yeah, I'm going there.  Look, I'm old school in many ways; I was raised in an era where parents were more interested in guiding and leading their children through life than being held captive by their children's whims.  I keep seeing articles about people letting their toddlers wear whatever they want (generally in reference to boys wearing dresses or pink) and these articles are applauded by the internet community.  Look, I'm not trying to oppress anyone, and I don't give a shit who's gay and who isn't.  I'm also not about to let my children have final say over what they wear and I find the notion that toddlers are advanced enough to make these decisions as though they are more aware of who they are than their parents to be more than a little bit naive.

Your son wants to wear pink, so you buy him a pink dress and parade him around town.  Okay.  What if he wanted to wear his Halloween costume every day of the year?  What if he wanted to use the towel or a sheet as a toga or something the next time the fam goes out to eat?  What if he sees his dad using Duck Tape and just wants to be wrapped up in that shit the next time there's a trip to the playground?  What if he really (like 100% sincerely) doesn't want to wear anything aside from his underpants and a pair of rain boots on the next trip to the Wal-Mart?  Maybe underpants, rain boots, and a cape.  I could go on and on.  What if some little boy wants to go straight Drag Queen with a prom dress, a potent application of make-up, a blonde wig, and toddler heels?  Might as well let them be who they truly are, right?

Nope, I don't think so.  Suddenly, I think some of these parents might object because, well, these are children after all, and golly gee, sometimes their decision-making process is a bit mystical.  Sometimes they need an adult to guide them, and that doesn't mean the adult is denying them the opportunity to be who they are.  If Asher (my son, who is 3) wants to wear jeans and a tee-shirt tomorrow, I'm going to dress him in jeans and a tee-shirt.  If Asher wants to wear one of his sister's ballerina outfits tomorrow, I'm going to dress him in jeans and a tee-shirt.  When he's an adult, if he wants to wear a ballerina outfit, he's free to wear the damn thing.  The difference isn't that I'm refusing him the right to an identity, the difference is that as an adult he will have a firm understanding of who he is and what he wants to wear.

Here's another thought: there are a few things I did in this life that I seriously question, to include various styles and haircuts.  There were a few things I wanted to do along the way that were shot down by my parents, but they were fairly open-minded.  I do look back as an adult and wonder why in the hell they allowed me to do some of these things.  My rat tail (about 6 years after the rat tail craze was a distant memory) is a stellar example.  Anyway, I strongly believe that many of these children whose parents are so liberal and understanding are going to look back at pictures one day and say, "What the fuck was wrong with you guys?  I was 3, for Pete's sake.  Who cares what I wanted--or thought that I wanted--weren't you guys supposed to be dressing me?"

Asher's favorite toys are his wrestlers and his super heroes.  He also likes his sister's My Little Pony toys and he is free to play with them.  His sisters have dressed him up in dresses and their ballerina outfits while playing around the house on occasion, and while some would condemn this kind of stuff, I believe that type of play can be helpful and informative.  Besides, I'm pretty sure it happens to every little boy with three sisters, particularly when two of them are older sisters.  Yet when we head out into the world at large, it's up to me and my wife to decide what he wears.  He can play however he wants, those are decisions I think he's fully capable of making.  Total authority over his wardrobe is another matter altogether, and I'm truly surprised that some people don't understand that.  Frequently, I'm pretty sure that most of these people I'm referring to throughout this blog actually fully understand, but man, that internet applause must really do something for them.  Hell, there may even be headlines . . .

I know, I'm a caveman, but that's my opinion on the whole letting your toddler wear whatever they want debacle.

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