When Princess was 23 months old, I took her shopping with me. We went to one of my favorite children’s clothing stores and found some great deals. On the way out, she spied a pair of bright pink camo butterfly pants on the display table. Squealing with glee, she grabbed them and hugged them. I laughed and tried to take them from her, but she hung onto them for dear life, giving me a look that clearly said, “These pants are mine!”
We’ve always been fairly relaxed about clothing requirements in our household. I know that if I make something completely forbidden, they will probably want it more! That said, we do have four basic guidelines when it comes to clothes. They must be:
- Appropriate for the occasion;
- Appropriate for the weather;
- Not exposing private areas;
- Not violating values our family holds.
Guidelines one and four are closely tied together, as clothing that violates our family values is never appropriate for any occasion. I actively discourage, and refuse to buy, clothing that insults any group, insults their siblings, or is rude. We were gifted shirts that say “Recycle my sister!” and “Will trade sister for candy” that were promptly returned to the store. Likewise, we feel shirts that express distaste for school rules, or express greed (“All I want for Christmas is money!”) sends the wrong message about the wearer. Our children also know that there are different clothes for different occasions. They wear “church clothes” (polos, slacks, a nice dress) for church and school clothes (t-shirts, pants, comfortable dresses) for school. We model the same guidelines for ourselves and, of course, everything is wash and wear!
I am stricter than many parents I know about my children wearing weather-appropriate clothing. I grew up in climates with extremes, spending part of my life in an area with extreme heat and another part with extreme cold. I have seen people become ill from being over- or under-dressed for the weather. We teach the children what a person might wear during the summer or winter. We encourage layering, so they can adjust their clothing based on changes in the weather.
Right now, our third guideline is the easiest to follow. They are young, and wear what we purchase for them. My older children do go shopping with us, but we steer them to stores that generally have clothing we approve of. As they get older, they will have more opinions and options and might see their friends wearing clothes we don’t approve of. I keep an open dialogue about what is not appropriate, and why, without judging the person. (We talk about clothes, not about the character of someone.) Both my sons and daughters have the same “modesty guidelines” for clothing — no short shorts (or skirts), no revealing tops, and cover your belly!
Of course, within these guidelines, everyone is free to express their own style. My husband wears polos and slacks everyday, even on weekends. Our third child is very picky about what he wears. Our oldest prefers athletic pants, and our daughter favors anything with sparkles and pink. We have no restrictions on characters, so Thomas, princesses, and Angry Birds pepper their wardrobes.
While pink camo-butterfly pants are not my style, they are completely “Princess.” I enjoy watching the children discover their own style as they grow!