Ask Elizabeth Anything
Elizabeth Brunner, Founder of StereoType, Answers Your Questions
Q: Dear Elizabeth,
My daughter is at the age where she just wants to be friends with girls. I don’t want to be prescriptive about who she’s friends with, but I don’t like that she “doesn’t like boys.” thoughts? — Let’sAllBeFriends
Dear Let’s All Be Friends,
I would ask your daughter why “she doesn’t like boys,” to dig a little deeper. Find out if something specific happened that is turning her off to hanging out with boys, and if your daughter can’t think of something defining, just give her space and time. Your daughter needs to know she can trust her instincts and do what’s best for her. My guess is that with time you will see her venture out of her comfort zone and make new friends.
I would also give her the freedom to make friends on her terms and not try to overrule her very real feelings by forcing playdates. It can also be a time for both of you to talk through the social navigation of playground politics — and that it’s okay to say “no thank you” if she doesn’t want to play with someone. Continue reading books about mixed groups of friends, highlight and praise qualities in the boys and girls she knows but give her the freedom to figure out how to create her social circle and follow and trust her internal guidance system.
Q: Dear Elizabeth,
I’ve always shopped for my nine-year old. Now, he wants to shop for himself. Any ideas on how to guide him through picking out his own clothes? — IStillWanttoChoose
Dear I Still Want to Choose,
It can be hard to let our “babies” grow up and make decisions for themselves, but it’s part of the journey of growing and changing, as a child and also as a parent. As your son starts to express his individuality, I would encourage you to step aside and let him lead the way and trust him to express himself in a way that is authentic to how he feels on the inside. It may be challenging for you to let go and let your son shop for himself at first, but you will be giving him the freedom to purchase from the heart and choose things he truly wants to wear. I promise you, giving him the opportunity to freely express himself is worth every penny. Ultimately, you are empowering your son with the confidence of making his own decisions and supporting him in creating his own experience with his clothing choices, which will give him the practice of being able to make his own decisions in other areas of his life.
You’re not out of the picture at all! Consider your role as helpful personal stylist, able to match his personality to his wardrobe — but only when asked! Before you head into a store or go online to search, talk through a shopping list together. Ask him what some of his favorite clothes are and why. Maybe it’s the colors and textures, maybe because he likes the fit, maybe because it’s the same shirt as his best friend. Don’t discount any reason. Talking through this can help him clue into how powerful our clothing choices can be in expressing who we are — and make it easier to choose when he’s actually shopping.
Have a question about exploring identity, breaking stereotypes, navigating the gendered-clothing aisles, or anything else? Drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and our founder, Elizabeth Brunner, will do her best to answer.