One of the things I learned as a teacher in Public Schools for almost a decade was that when teachers have high expectations for their students, they usually see students achievement increase. This can be applied to several areas. Unfortunately, in today’s school climate the philosophy is viewed in light of how to increase test scores. Gag. (That merits a whole other entry and is one of the reasons I don’t think I can go back to schools at this juncture). A lot of the things that I learned as a teacher have helped me to better parent as well. I am pretty patient as a Papa, something else I owe to managing 20 little ones on my own for hours on end. So, life prepares us for life and teaching helped me a bit to be a better parent for certain. We get asked on occasion about the way we choose to dress Edie. Mainly, we get questions around dressing her in Disney, or pink, or flowy princessy type clothes or more specifically why we do not. That is a tricky and complex question but here is a bit of our philosophy around clothes and really parental and societal expectations.
I guess the old quote, “clothes make the man..er the beautiful, strong, confident woman” is true. When we dress our daughters in pink (only) or in Disney attire (only) or in those weird princess things that look like they might catch on fire if you are in the same room as a heat source we are telling them that there are very limited ways to be a girl (and a boy). In fact, there has been a lot of research that shows that how we dress our girls (and boys) can influence and limit the career choices they make as adults.Forbes Article Now, moderation in most things is the key, I suppose, and if your kid has a natural inclination toward these things then so be it. As long as they know the options and that the girls see just as many options as the boys do.
The other issue at play here is entertainment and media. I have to admit for the first two years of her life we had absolutely no tv or technology. It was easy, because we just didn’t do it. So, we didn’t know any other way. Plus we got to feel so smug about it. hehehe. She does watch some tv now. In fact, on days like today when she is super tired and it is super cold and windy out she watches a bit more than I am comfortable with. There are also many many days where she watches nada. We are super careful and intentional about what she watches for the exact same reason. A lot of media designed specifically for kids portrays girls as loud, mean, overly emotional, or unintelligent or flat. Right now, she basically only watches Caillou. I have to say (leave it to the awesome Canadians) that Caillou is pretty decent with regards to gender stuff. The dad is kind and sensitive and does a lot of the cooking and cleaning. Mom has a smart short haircut and has a life outside of her family. Now the voices are grating and God awful but the content is good. There is also a good amount of cross cultural relationships occurring. Win!
The point is that we control the images that Edie sees. We think it is important that she see all the different ways to be a boy, girl, woman, man, or gender non-conforming. (Hey, maybe Caillou is gender non-conforming?) Maybe that is why we are all obsessed with this book- Julian Is a Mermaid We do dress her in a lot of dresses and tights and that is mainly because she prefers those. She HATES jeans. I’ve tried them all. We dress her as a little person in things that are comfortable and perhaps on trend. (Read gay dads who like to shop.) We also like things that are well made and that will last and we can gift or resell after she is done with them. In the future we hope to share a few of them with you. Ok, I will share one now. Sad that we discovered these folks at a point when Edie will soon be out of their size range but you will thank me for them when you check them out. Real shoes made by real people in the U.S.A. for generations. Obsessed…Zimmerman Shoes If you follow our instagram, and you can right from this page, you will see a lot of the brands that we have come to love and trust.
I write this blog to share what I believe about raising my perfect kid. I do not have it all figured out and welcome comments and debate. I do think our children become, in part, what we expect of them. I want Edie to have all the options that an affluent white boy has and then some. I want Edie to follow her heart, her dreams, and her passions, no matter what or where they are. I want Edie to be kind and empathetic and interesting and interested. Oh, and I want her to be well dressed too. I expect it.