Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life: April 2012

Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life is about paying attention to what it is that we do on a day to day basis and how we impact each other and the planet. We will talk about all of the things that we do here at home to make ourselves and the world a better place.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Styling Kids

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children's personal care choices.


I have three equally wonderful children, who are each completely unique. My Bean loves Fourth of July, all things red, white, and blue, and, above all else, anything related to firefighting. The Bug is my dapper little man, enamored with purple and black, and is a farmer at heart. Squeaker is still pretty young, but his personality is already an amusing blend of Beanie and Papa’s laid back cheerfulness and mine and the Bug’s persistence and willpower. So far, his interests are limited to his nesting boxes, jingle bell, and whatever his siblings are playing, but I’m sure it won’t be long before he is telling me all about what he love, love, loves.

One thing that is important to Papa and me, as parents, is that we don’t tell our children how to feel, or what to like. We don’t tell them what their interests should be. We don’t tell them who they should be. We don’t tell them what they should look like. We do set some ground rules and guidelines, but we let them express themselves as much as possible.

One area that we really incorporate this is the children’s appearance. For us, guidelines are things like; we expect that the children will be dressed neatly, in age and weather appropriate clothing. When clothing no longer fits or is in disrepair, it is no longer worn. We don’t have licensed characters in our house (with a few exceptions), and never on clothing. We don’t go for witty sayings that our kids don’t understand. We brush our hair and teeth every day. We keep our hair neatly trimmed and style it daily.

That is about where our influence ends. The kids shop with us most of the time. I provide a general shopping list when we are changing season or size. They pick what they want to buy to fits that list. Seven short sleeved tops means something entirely different to the Bean than it does to the Bug. And I find it quite amusing that while much of the Bean’s clothing is gender neutral, the Bug refuses to wear her cast off blue and red clothing most of the time.

Something that always surprises me is that my Bean can look like whatever she wants, wear whatever she wants, and draw little or no criticism, while my Bug has a harder time with other people’s opinions. He is often mistaken for a girl, much to his chagrin. As I said, his favorite color is purple – which is apparently not a boy color, so much. I get it – I had never thought of it as a masculine color until I had the Bug. But now, it irritates me to no end that finding purple clothing that is masculine is so difficult. He often buys girl’s tops because they are beautiful purples when the boy’s department is only full of blue and green that he doesn’t like. I do try to steer him towards the plainer ones, to minimize the girl comments, but his long sleeve favorite has a slightly ruffled hem and cuffs.

Also, he has wanted long hair since he was old enough to talk. With his short little wisps around his face, he would beg me daily for a ponytail like Beanie’s. I would explain, day after day, that he had to grow enough hair for me to put in a ponytail if that was what he wanted. It took him two and a half years, but finally his hair got long enough to make him happy, and it has continued to grow since then. I’ve insisted on trimming it up to keep it growing evenly, and in a nice shape, but I’ve never taken the length of it away from him. And he loves his “golden curls”. Really, they are quite handsome, and on a teenage version of himself, would have girls going wild. But on a three year old, they are quite controversial. Many people feel that I should force him to cut it, even though he loves it.

People feel that they have every right to tell him that he should cut it, ask him why he doesn’t tell his parents to take him to a barber, or threaten to cut it off for him. When we tell people that it hurts his feelings to be told these things, we’ve been told that we should force him to cut his hair so that people would stop saying things that hurt his feelings.

I think it is because people feel that a three year old shouldn’t have an opinion, or that his opinion should be based on the opinions of the adults surrounding him. Or maybe it’s because people feel uncomfortable that he is pushing a gender boundary already. He doesn’t know anything about gender stereotypes yet, though. What he does know is that he wants to grow his hair long, and his beard “down to his belt” – when he is old enough to grow one at all. And he knows that he is a happy little man, who is comfortable with himself and the way that he looks, and who is loved and supported by the people who love him.

Our goal as parents is to continue supporting our kids in their quest to be themselves, whatever that may look like, and to raise happy, self-confident children who love themselves as much as we love them.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 10 with all the carnival links.)

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