Bad Parent Tip #1: The Wardrobe

6:00 AM Elizabeth Seckman 33 Comments

Cole, Carter, and Caleb
(Notice none of my kids had shoes that needed tied?)

Kristen Lamb wrote an honest post about the guilt of motherhood*.  Since I've been there, done that, and already sent the stained tee-shirt onto Goodwill, I'll offer some tips that aren't likely to find their way into parenting magazines.

It is bad parenting that nets good results. They are, of course, completely anecdotal and have not been proven by any research. I'm only saying...I did it this way and not a single one of my children turned out to be an ax murderer.


Tip #1
The clothes make the man, especially when he's a child. 

Simple truth: what's cool to a kid, may not be cool to an adult.

When my kids were little, I had the exclusive opportunity to choose their outfits for about one year. As soon as they learned the word no, they used it often.

The cute little sailor outfit was a no. As were polos, button-ups, and basically anything without a truck, a super hero, or an animal that could eat you alive if you weren't paying attention.

Now, I could have broken their wills and forced them to wear what I wanted (maybe), but as the mom of four young boys I didn't have time for that crap enjoyed watching their personalities flourish through self-expression.

Honestly? My first priority was keeping them alive. I had bigger worries like stopping them from playing in traffic or sword fighting with kitchen knives. What they were wearing was not a high priority for me. They loved choosing their own clothes, and I loved not having to worry about it.

My kids have worn gum boots to church and pajamas to the grocery store, and no one died. And eventually, they grew out of it. Not a single one of my boys started school in a Halloween costume**.

They are now all conventional looking, non-fashion obsessed, well-adjusted young men.

So go ahead...let them dress themselves. In the very least, you'll have great pictures for blackmail later. 

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*If you're not following Kristen, I highly suggest you do. She's funny, smart, and paving her own way to writing success.

**My son wanted to go his first day in his Buzz Lightyear costume, so I had to rework the rules a bit. The wear what you want was modified to...these dresser drawers are for school clothes...these are for leisure and play. Kindergarten is the place to learn to color inside the lines, both on the page and in life. 

33 comments:

  1. Love the ** rule change - lol! :)

    shahwharton.com

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    1. I believe creative expression should be bound by a few limits. (And I wanted to spare him getting made fun of first day of school!)

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  2. lol blackmail always works for me

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  3. When I see a little girl in a princess costume or overly fancy dress, I always smile and think, "She won the battle. Good for her!" Parents are always so concerned that others are going to think they're bad parents because of the way their kids look. That isn't the case at all. Most of us are just thinking how cute they look! I would say most adults know it's important to pick your battles...and clothes aren't really an important battle.

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    1. I had a friend who worried exactly as you say. She was certain everyone thought she was a horrible parent. I think anyone who raised kids see those happily, strangely dressed children and know they're happy kids- like you say- they won!

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  4. My boys couldn't care less about clothes - I'm responsible for keeping them looking 'cool', and I make a fine job of it, if I say so myself :-)

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    1. Mine care, but they don't. When they were little, they wore nothing they didn't like. They were quite adamant. Now their dad, on the other hand, he'd wear a lace shirt if I laid it out for him!

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  5. Sweet picture momma!! This post made me laugh out loud as I clearly remember the day my beautiful daughter Faith, who was all about four years old, completely rejected an outfit I had laid out for her the night before. She rolled her eyes and said, "Garanimals, really mom?" And that, my friend, was that. She happened to be a clothes snob at an early age. I haven't picked out an outfit for her since. And then, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I have my youngest. Who has never cared about designers or labels. She has never even worn a pair of jeans, ever. She flat out refuses, saying their "hard" and she only wears things that don't hurt... My response, "Alrighty then, I guess it's stretchies for life. There are oh so many other battles to fight, lines to draw in the sand. In the grand scheme of things, what does it really matter?

    Bottom line, all three of my girls are amazing human beings and individuals. How they dress and choose to express themselves is up to them. I don't bother getting involved in it.

    ** Disclaimer: I meant everything I just said except if one day my girls suddenly decide to loose their minds like poor Miss Britney and decide to tart it up and wear something so short with no drawers on underneath so the whole world can see their business, then, I would, uh, most definitely have to step in and intervene :)

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    1. That's how it is in my house. They choose their clothes. Sometimes it's annoying. There was the anti-American Eagle movement. It seemed like over night, anything that came from AE was shunned. They wore a lot of repeats while they slowly restocked. I won't force them to wear what they hate, but I won't run and revamp the wardrobe either.
      (Moms totally need to use the power of the veto. My guys never want to dress skimpy trampy, but I've had to veto Mt. and Dew Me, My Pen is Huge, and so on. Oy. Boys and girls will do just about anything to get each other's attention! And that's why they need parents all the way to adulthood!)

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    2. You are sooo hilarious!! And I love your t-shirt examples. Too funny.

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  6. Ha! Great post. My little guy doesn't care what he wears. Well, he'd rather be just in his underwear all the time, but we can't do that in public. He's only expressed a few fashion wants including a pink sweatshirt and green Robin tights, and I've let him wear them.

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    1. Mine loved their underwear too. But you're right...that's not public wear.
      My son, Caleb, had this flowered shirt that he loved. His uncle teased him about the flowers, Caleb told him they weren't flowers, they were weeds. It's hard to best genius children with minds of their own!

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  7. Hahahaha that's awesome!! When I see pictures of some of the stuff I wore as a kid...geez. What even.

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    1. See? Your mom allowed you to develop your sense of style! Now, do you do like my boys and look at those crazy outfits and say, "Mom! Why did you let me wear that?!"

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  8. My five year old daughter is very into picking her own clothes right now. And she has an, um, interesting sense of style. ;-)

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    1. Enjoy. And take lots and lots of pictures!

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  9. I think discipline should be saved for more important issues than what clothes they wear. Sounds like you were a very sensible mother Liz.

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    1. Very true. Like my grandmother always said, it was like holding the reins on a horse- too tight, they'll balk. Too loose, they'll run wild. You have to find the balance.

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  10. This is so funny. We are the same in this. I let them dress in whatever way they wanted. One time my son Christopher had only his underwear on and I didn't notice until we were at the store. UGH. So I instituted a rule. Anything you want to wear that covers you up. Ha.Wonderful post. At least my kids can think for themselves.

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    1. I can imagine it. We never made it out in undies, but made it out several times in pajamas. My kids think for themselves too. A little too much sometimes. :)

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  11. It is so true that you have to pick your battles and I saved the re-direction and disagreements for the important things like brushing their teeth and drinking milk. Cute kids.

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    1. What is it with kids and tooth brushing? I swear, you'd think you were asking them to walk over hot coals.

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  12. Just the other day, I saw a girl in the park and I turned to my partner and said, "She dressed herself." And it wasn't a put down. I loved the outfit she had on. Everyone should start wearing red rain boots on a sunny day, with striped pants, and a polka dot dress. To heck with rules! Live life

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    1. I'm with you! We need to quit worrying so much about what other people think. That's probably the best way to understanding ourselves.

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  13. Wasn't able to pick my own clothes until middle school. It made my early childhood interesting. :)

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    1. My husband never picked out his own clothes either- still doesn't. I tease him that he'll never leave me because he wouldn't know what to wear on his way out the door.

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  14. My son didn't care what he wore. I gave him anything I wanted him to wear until he wore uniform.

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    1. My husband is laid back like that.

      A man can never go wrong in a uniform!

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