Thursday, April 14, 2011

FF: A Style of Their Own




My son has a predilection for ugly shoes. He likes lights, super hero motifs and velcro. Recently, he needed new sneakers and the ones he was really pushing for had teeth. A whole row of crocodile teeth lining the sole of the shoe. I'm all for autonomy and independent children; I let him pick out his last two pairs of sneakers, (both ugly, incidentally,) but I draw the line at shoes with molars. "No characters, no lights and no teeth." Those were the parameters. He chose a respectable pair of grey and orange sneakers. He likes them. I like them. Win/win.

But compromise can be hard to come to.

My sister wore the same outfit to preschool almost every day for an entire year. I don't remember it exactly, but I think it involved blue spandex shorts with sunflowers on them. And a puff-painted shirt? One thing I love about my mom is that she wanted happy kids more than she wanted perfectly groomed, color coordinated Mini Boden models. It was rarely worth a confrontation to get us to dress a certain way, so she let us dress ourselves and do our own hair from a fairly young age. We look like urchins in a lot of our childhood pictures. Happy urchins, though :)

Sometimes children really get their hearts set on ugly things. Or cute things in horrible combinations. They want to wear the same thing over and over. And over!

What's your approach to all this as a parent? Is it worth a battle to get them to dress and groom the way you'd like them to? Do your kids choose their own outfits? Do you edit their choices to make sure they match? Do you allow them to pick their own clothes/shoes for purchase?

19 comments:

Camilla Wilcox said...

My son is still young (2 1/2) but he still has a very distinct style. I choose all of his clothes at the store and he chooses what to wear on a daily basis. It's a system that works for us. I don't like licensed apparel shirts, so I don't buy them.

sarahandmatt said...

I always say "choose your battles". With clothes that means that my kids can wear the superhero shirts or ugly shoes, but on Sundays and when we take family pictures, they know not to even ask. I have all power on those days. It seems to work fine for us. I also do the trick of "losing" certain clothes that are completely unacceptable.

Jennie said...

It's definitely a pick your battles situation. My two year old has about 5 favorite items of clothing right now and as far as she's concerned we could throw away all her other clothes and that would be just fine :) It's pretty fine with me too...my "rules" say that so long as it's clean the kids may wear whatever they want (provided it will keep them warm enough)6 days a week. Sunday is my day to rule the sartorial universe.

Katie said...

This was a hard one for me to let go of. My 7 year old won't even let me pick her clothes out at the store anymore. She wants anything with Justin Bieber or peace signs or florescent colors on them. Yikes!

My rules: No characters from TV shows. And I get to pick your church clothes or special occasion clothes. Other than that I have learned to let go. Especially at school. Peace signs are positive right? I think we have to let these kids be themselves. Even if you are dying for them to be that Crewcuts model.

Rae. said...

Oh pick me pick me! This is the one battle I have found a solution to: my one measly little victory!

I too began an instant struggle with the my oldest child, now 5. By the age of two, this girl had preferences and a serious bend towards skanky swank! We're talking constant fits and fights over anything cheetah print (and leotard), her baby sister's size 18 months denim skirts, princess plastic heels, all in combination with my MAC red lipstick she'd sneak and smear all over her face. And her hair, oh her hair! She always wanted it worn down (think nappy, kinky, tangled), dampened under the faucet, and slicked to one side. My dreams of a crisply dressed Janie & Jack, peter pan collared little girl in Mary Jane's was evaporating with all-out nuclear war erupting between the two of us in our bathroom each morning.

Finally, we cut a deal: I explained that anytime we had to leave the house, she must wear whatever Mommy picks. Hair style and all. And in return, Mommy promises that she may change when she gets home in to whatever she wants. It's worked for 3 years, a miracle indeed. The moment we enter the front door, she strips down and reassembles.

I get my cardigan clad girl in her little pink Gap flats at my side in the grocery store, and a rather interesting and eclectic combination of Snow White meets Lady Gaga meets Dolly Parton at home.

It's the best of both worlds.

Dani said...

I let my kids wear whatever they want...within reason. We don't wear princess outfits to preschool, but my girls have been seen in them at the grocery store. As long as they're dressed appropriately for the weather, we're good. I do have the rule that I get to dress them on Sunday.
I love seeing how they express themselves through their clothes. I have one daughter that adores all things glittery and another that will only wear skirts or dresses. So fun! My son isn't old enough to really have a preference yet. He does love any shirt that has a truck on it, but other than that he's just happy to be dressed so that he can go outside and play.

bjahlstrom said...

To Rae:

I am giggling uncontrollably at your description of your daughter's style! How funny, and what a character you have on your hands! Nice job with the compromise.

B.K. said...

Around age 6-7, I thought it was pretty cool to wear cut-off jean, with a rolled up cuff. I actually would've looked pretty decent if I hadn't gone over board with the rolling. I'd kept going till I couldn't roll them up any more. :P I've got photos, standing next to my bike, dressed like this. It resembles some odd sort of diaper and while going through my early teens I was often tempted to destroy all such evidence. Now, I'm able to look on them fondly, and I'm glad Mom allowed me to experiment with style.

Ally + Blake said...

I just don't do my kids clothes shopping with them. I go on my own and make sure I only buy neutrals with a few fun colored pieces so that they can then mix and match as they choose. No fights no battles. If my girl want's to wear her striped tights with a pink ruffle skirt and striped sweater it's okay by me as long as she is modestly clad and happy.

Blogful said...

I usually offer two or three choices and let them pick from those I am happy with. One mom I know put "outfits" in little hanging shelves in the closet so the kid picks one set that's already put together. My 3 year old today is wearing a dress backwards, because I am so proud of her for dressing herself that I am not going to correct her mistake. In fact, it bugs me when other moms/dads/parents tell my kid their shoes are on the wrong feet. Duh, I know! But think how proud the kid is for doing it themselves before you go crushing their self esteem and their ability to be responsible for themselves.

FYI said...

My daughter is a very independent almost 3 year old. She loves clothes, so she is thrilled with anything she gets from me or the family. When I'm buying, I choose the clothes from the store. She does, however, get to help pick out what she wears on most days. I only have a couple of rules for her to follow;

1. Occasion Appropriate- If we're playing in the mud, she can't wear a frilly dress, etc.
2. Weather Appropriate
3. Clean-She would like to wear the same "Hello Kitty" shirt everyday. I consider myself pretty relaxed when it comes to her clothes, but I refuse to let her be known as the "smelly kid", among her acquaintences. ;)

toddnjoelle said...

This is really a tricky situation and one I never thought about before I had kids. I have 3 girls!!! My oldest is 5 and let me tell you we have had our battles. I wish I could control the clothes that come in our home, but I have a husband and family that love to buy my girls clothes and I don't always like them. I have allowed our girls to have the character pajamas and that is where I draw the line. They always wear modest clothes and dress for the weather and situation. On Sunday my mom or my husband usually get our girls dressed because I have meetings, and it can be almost comical what they will get away with. As far as how their hair goes, it has to be brushed. No bed head allowed and that can be hard to do. I commend you all for figuring it out, but I am still working on this one for sure. I am learning to let things go and let them become their own selves.

Laurel said...

As much as I would love for my kiddos to look like magazine models, I stop picking out their clothes really early. I even let my two year old choose: "This or this."

I want kids who know themselves. My mom was really big on this when I was a kid because she never was allowed to make decisions for herself, and she felt like it really hurt her. Consequently, she let me choose pretty much everything: Including paint colors (some pretty ugly) bedspreads (green Holly Hobbie) and even let me tear up the carpet in my bedroom so I could have wood floors. I am sosososososo grateful. Because of her my 7th grade teacher said of me, "Well, she certainly knows her own mind." That was a huge gift!

I also have watched as an 18 year old neice of mine struggles to decide anything for herself. I do not want that for my kiddos. So I say choose away, even though it can be incredibly painful, and maybe even a little embarrassing.

jeanine said...

I hate character shirts... so I don't buy them. BUT my mother-in-law does!!! So it still becomes an issue on occasion.
Some days mom gets to set the parameters of what is worn: picture day, first day of school, Sundays (collared shirts), etc. Other days, as long as it's weather appropriate they can wear it.
As for buying clothes: I have certain restrictions and then he can choose. ie: You need 2 shirts, you can pick them from this shelf because they are on sale.

Meggan Hayes said...

If you don't let kids make choices now on simple things like clothes (as long as they are modest), how will they ever make big decisions later?

jeanine said...

I think giving kids choices when they are young is an excellent way to teach them decision making for when they are older... but I think there also has to be boundaries. Teaching them boundaries when they are young saves on heartache when they are older. Another way I let my kids choose: My son gets a snack after school. He gets to pick what he wants to eat with just one "rule"--it has to be a healthy snack. He can have a variety of things but can't go outside that one restriction. It gives him the freedom to have what he wants while still staying in my parameters.

Katie said...

Most of the time I leave it alone! Clothes are clothes, you know. Modesty and totally clashing florals are about where I draw the line. My best tip is to go to the shoe store, find the one YOU like, buy a few sizes, take them home and try them on, take back the ones that don't fit. So much easier than battling five kids at the shoe store. They always want the most expensive ones!

Vicky said...

My kids wear sandals and pretty dress shoes with socks... not little white socks designed to be worn with sandals and dresses... luminous yellow ones with polka dots and they insist on pulling them up as high as they will go!

Primary Female Caregiver said...

With regards to parenting in general, I am a firm believer in allowing agency within set parameters. With regards to clothing, this is what works for us. When my kids need something new, I let them go through catalogues or look on-line w/ me to identify clothing they like, then I go purchase things for them while they're at school. I do try to honor their wishes, but I of course meld some of mine in there too. Usually they're so happy to have something new waiting at home that there's not a problem, and that way they never know that the Yoshi t-shirt was even an option. :)