This morning one of my old friends posted a comment on her Facebook wall saying that she just couldn't understand how some people think it's ok to put a pink sweater on a boy.
Usually, I don't pay attention to these posts due to the fact that it's always hard to get people to understand my point of view when they already have made up their mind, but since I only yesterday in fact bought a pink sweater to my three year old son when he so carefully picked it out by himself at the store, I had to read the 37 comments and find out what her other friends thought about this. It was, fortunately, a big mix of agreement and disagreement.
One girl said that a boy at her daughters day care centre often was dressed in Hello Kitty clothes and that she just wanted to scream at the boys father, telling him that his son would be bullied. This statement makes me sad in so many ways. She is not only making the statement that only girls should be allowed to wear that kind of clothes, but she is probably teaching her small daughter that same opinion.
Kids don't make connections between colors and gender. Parents do. Kids don't make a difference between if you have money or not. Parents do. Kids don't care if you're fat or skinny - parents do.
How many of you readers have experienced bullying during your school time? Kids who were "different" had a hard time, whether it was about the clothes, their weight, or their parents status. How different would your childhood have been if the parents of your classmates and playmates had taught their kids - really taught - that it's okay to be who ever you are? That it doesn't matter if you're rich or poor or if you don't have the latest fashion design wear?
Because, it's not about putting on a pink sweater. It's about what you teach - and SHOW - your kids about friendship, respect and everyones rights to make their own decisions. You as a parent has the obligation to make sure that your kids don't make life hard for others. That is far more important than focusing on how well your kid fits in to the "norm" of the society. Because the "norm" today is that if you're not like everyone else, you will get a hard time and your school years will be dreadful.
If your son or daughter knows that it's okay for others to be who ever they are, he or she will also know that it's ok for him/her to be who ever he/she is. And that will increase the chances of your kid growing up to be a safe, strong and loving individual.
Unfortunately, it's not as easy as telling your three year old that "it's not ok to bully". If you as a grownup talk to other grownups about how dreadful your friend's new trousers are, your kid will pick that up and teach it's friends that you shouldn't have ugly pants. If you comment about someone being fat to your partner when you're out on a sunday walk with your kid i the stroller - yep, he or she will pick that up to.
Since you, as a parent, are the biggest inspiration and idol of your kids - you really should think about what you may pass on. This is the hardest part, I think, because sometimes you don't want for yourself what you want for your kids.
But really - if you as a person are a loving, respectful and caring human being, there's a pretty good chance that your kid will be to.
So, back to the pink sweater. I'm often presented to comments like "But my boy doesn't WANT anything but blue clothes and cars" or "My daughter refuses to wear anything but pink princess dresses - WHY should I make her wear something else?". Answer: You shouldn't. The only thing you should do is to make sure that your kids know that it's ok to want to wear whatever they want to wear, eat whatever they want to eat and play with whatever they want to play with.
Because IT'S NOT ABOUT THE CLOTHES, THE CARS OR THE DOLLS. It's about self-confidence and feeling secure in being who you are. Sorry about the repeating here, but when parents start to figure that out - that's when we are on the way to make this world a better place for our kids.