Raising a Stereotype

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When I was little I used to love to put my own shoes on. Usually they were on the wrong feet, but non the less I was proud. Today I see little girls in mix matched tutus and boys with basketball shorts and nice button ups on. As a parent is there a line to which you will let your child dress themselves? Its always a good thing to strive to let your children be independent individuals, but to what degree? Will they come home sad or in tears from being made fun of at school? Will they be the newest trendsetters among their friends? Will all the other moms in Target give you dirty looks because your child looks a little crazy in their paw patrol pajama pants, Elsa shirt and matching hat hair?

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As a parent of a 2 year old and a 4 month old, I haven’t come across this issue yet. I can only image that if one of them hasn’t already, once in their lifetime they will come across a bully. As a parent do we dress them up in the most popular clothes, or completely let them find their own way in this world. My daughters are young, so of course I still dress them. I buy outfits that are in style and cute. We usually shop at Target, Old Navy, Carters, and Gap Kids/Baby Gap. I feel like she will grow to like fashion, because I do and thats something we have fun doing together… for now lol. I don’t always dress her to one stereotype though… one day she looks hippie with her cute mid forehead headbands, another day she is in cowboy boots and riding pants, and some times she plays a hipster with her cute garage sale Converse and Peppa Pig tank top . As your child gets older, do you let them have free range of the closet and dress to their desire, leaving for school in a pink tutu, orange pants, cheetah print shoes and a bright green shirt?? Or do you help guide them, even thought it may be taking away from their imagination and individuality??

I wonder this a lot. As I drive around and see children play at the park, or with their friends. I sometimes wonder when I see children walking around at the mall with their parents. Are they picked on? Does it matter to them? Are they happy? Everyone wants their child to be in individual and find themselves, but does this come at the cost of being somewhat a follower in the fashion world? I dont mean you go on fashion blogs daily for your second grader and buy all the “hip” expensive gear, but at which extent to people go? Do you pick out clothes for your child that you see other kids their age in? Do you pick out clothes that you enjoy? Or do you let your child buy what they want.. after all, it is your money.

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Growing up, I was fortunate that I didn’t have too many bullys. I was picked on for having acne and being a tomboy, but nothing daily and I had an overall very happy childhood. I didn’t wear the worst clothes, but I also didn’t have a GAP or American Eagle shirt and pants to wear every day like the cool kids. I wore a mix of things that were “in” and that I found cute. There were certain trends I didn’t always like or follow, and I never really had an issue with outfits to wear to school because I also had an older sister. Seriously, the best place to look for clothes every morning before sneaking out of the house with her stuff on, lol. My older sister Brittany worked in high school, so she always spent all her money on jewelry, shoes and clothes. Im not sure I would have made it through middle school or high school without her closet. My parents both worked average jobs and were raising THREE girls in an upper middle class suburb. But yes, THREE girls. Clothes, shoes, hair accessories, curling irons, flat irons, brushes, hair ties, styling gel and hair spray out the ass in every bathroom, as Im sure you can imagine haha. Anyways-I wore a lot of jerseys, jeans, overalls (they were in, I promise) and other things that sometimes I never really noticed a lot of other girls wearing. I also can’t lie and say that I didn’t always wish I could just walk into Abercrombie & Fitch and ask my mom to blow a few hundred dollars so just so I could look “cool”, and feel more secure around other kids at school. Whenever I did get a new shirt or clothes, I literally felt on top of the world. I noticed like everyone else that a lot of the kids that got picked on in school, were ones that didn’t always dress the best. Out dated pants, cartoon tshirts, hand me down jackets, old shoes etc. Was it their parents who couldn’t afford “cool” clothes for them? Was it things that they wanted to wear and felt comfortable in? Were those types of clothes special to them? Was that the one thing in their lives that they could control as a young teenager? All of those things run through my head when I remember my middle school days. I hope my child can find a happy balance within themselves.  I hope they grow up with confidence and know how special and amazing they are no matter what they wear. I want her to have fun with her clothes and  and not be afraid to be different. In the same breath, I don’t want her to be so far out of the box that she has trouble making friends or feeling important at school. As a parent, I just don’t know where to draw the line. I want her happy and to have friends who truly love her for whats inside, but I don’t want her picked on for being different to the point that she hates being around other kids her age, or no longer wants to go to school because it has become an issue. I above all- DO NOT want her being picked on because I cannot provide all of the coolest and latest things for her, if thats what she chooses and wants to wear. I don’t want her picked on because we cannot provide those things for her. No matter though, I just hope I can raise her to be strong, independent and know that she doesn’t NEED to fit in. She can be Dallis- the crazy, funny, outgoing, hilarious kid that I raised and birthed (and Harper too, but Dallis is the oldest and going to be the poor guinea pig).

I hope one day I can learn the answer to my own questions… What is enough? What is overboard? When is your child old enough to dress themselves? When is it okay to let them be picked on and gain their own independence?  etc, etc, etc. I know this world is harsh, and we cannot raise our kids in a bubble. One day she will be sad, upset, hurt, picked on, have her heart broken by a boy, and her self esteem crushed from a girl. Its things that as a mom hurt my heart to think about, but I know that I cannot change them or shelter her from the world. The best I can do is prepare her for life. Teach her thats its okay to be different, its okay to wear different things, its okay to fit in sometimes and stand out other times. I hope both of my girls grow up with the independence and confidence that they show now as little kids. I hope I can grow as a mother to find a good balance for them. I only have my own personal experiences for now, and I hope thats enough. To be able to give them everything that they NEED first, and a few wants along the way.

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