Whether it’s because of hand-me-downs or by choice there are girls out there who wear boys clothes and boys who wear girls clothes. I never imagined it was such a big deal until the topic blew up on one of my parenting boards so I decided to talk about it today.
I remember when I was growing up, I loved getting hand me downs from a very young age and would wear the clothes even when they were sizes too big. Up until I was in high school I loved dressing like my parents and wearing their clothing. I remember my dad and I having matching (purple men’s) Mountain Gear jackets that we wore all the time. My mom and I had an entire collection of sweatshirts from Northern Reflections.
I liked dressing like my parents because they were my role models and so of course I wanted to be like them. Secondly, by the time puberty set in I was developing some body issues, so I loved wearing their big oversized sweatshirts that covered everything (both my parents are larger people). I didn’t identify things as a men’s item or women’s item, just I like it or I don’t like it. Lucky for me, my mom never gave me a hard time about it, she always said it was up to me what I wanted to wear. Low and behold, I turned out just fine.
I have taken the same approach with my kids. I had lots of boys things left over from Sawyer and I never thought twice about having the girls wear them. Since they are twins and girls, I have been showered with clothes for them so it hasn’t come up much. I do let Sawyer help pick out their outfits in the morning and sometimes they are, well, um, not what I would choose, but who cares? When it comes to items like strollers etc., I did try to choose gender neutral since I was hoping to reuse them, but we had to buy because of the twins anyways. One of my bundlers was blue so people always thought one of the twins was a boy. So what?
With Sawyer, he has never asked me to buy something that was a girls item, but he does like bright colours including pink and I let him wear them (this kid has a better sense of style than I do!) He often asks to wear my things like sunglasses or hats and I let him. I don’t think its a big deal at all. The other day I was painting my nails and he asked if I could do his too, so I drew a flower on his nails with my nail pen. He was so happy.
When they get older I will continue to do the same. If the girls want their big brothers hand me downs that’s cool. If Sawyer wanted to wear something that was girls I would let him. I am not sure how I would approach it if he asked me to wear a dress since while I wouldn’t have a problem with it, I know other people would, and I would want to protect him from those naysayers. I do have limits regarding the weather. So, for example, if he insists on wearing shorts in the winter that’s fine (I do hide them but sometimes they turn up), but if he wants to go outside he has to put snow pants on.
I feel the same way about hair. If my daughters want to cut their hair short or he wants to grow his long, I think it is their hair and they should be allowed to do as they like.
I think that part of raising your children should be empowering them and building their self-esteem by letting them make their own choices when it comes to getting dressed. Really, there are so many more important things to fuss over, let them have this one.
For me the problem is not when they want to wear clothes designed for the opposite sex, it will be when my daughters want to wear clothes that ARE sexy. While I am all for self-expression, just the thought of it sets of alarm bells in my head. When they are older fine, but when I see 11 year olds dressed like they are going to club I silently think “thank goodness that’s not MY daughter” (and yes, I do feel bad about judging, I am just being honest).
So let’s hear it. Would you let your son wear girl’s clothes or vice versa? Do you believe in letting your children dress themselves (even when you might not approve)? Feel free to share any advice or experiences.