It is a parent’s job to make choices for our children. We choose to have them in the first place and then we choose on a broad level, the life they will lead until they are ready to leave home – and even then we may think we are able to make choices for them. But where does choice end, and dictation take over? How many choices do we actually make for ourselves, and not for our children at all?
We hope that our children will grow up with a strong sense of style, a look they can call their own. But we choose the clothes our babies wear each day. They can’t dress themselves or choose a style, and so it is up to us. And we choose things based on our own style, on the impression we wish to project and on what looks relatively clean at the time.
At some point our children will start to have some ideas of their own about what looks good and makes them feel good. And very often this is a total odds with our own ideas of how our children should appear in public. Pirate outfits. Pajamas, glittery socks, or a favorite t-shirt worn day in and day out until it becomes an independent eco-system with a child inside it.
Children will naturally experiment with clothes and character – it’s part of being a child and learning about who they really are and what their place in the big wide world might be. They look around without pre-concieved ideas, pop-culture references or style icons. A dress-up basket filled with old clothes will give a child a blank canvas with which to create an outfit much more than a ready-made Cinderella or Spider-man outfit.
And as they grow into themselves, often the choice is between the sublime and the ridiculous and as parents we walk a fine line between the two, guiding but not controlling, advising but not dictating.
And sometimes we just have pretend it’s just not happening…
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