Our Founder Elizabeth Brunner Answers Your Questions
Q: Dear Elizabeth, my son has been wearing dresses and skirts at home all summer. He loves wearing them and how they make him feel. I support this but now he says he wants to wear a dress for back-to-school and I’m not sure if his school friends and even other parents/teachers will be as accepting. I don’t want him to be bullied or made to feel “different” because he likes what he does. How do I support my son but also protect him from a not so nice outside world?
Dear Back to school mom,
I understand exactly how you feel. My son also loves to wear dresses and when he wanted to wear them to school I resisted at first and even told him no a couple of times. However, over time I began to realize that my fear for my son being perceived as “different” or labeled in any way was my own projection of what I thought others might think or say about him. I also started to understand that loving Jacob fully meant supporting every thing he loves that lights him up inside. I would watch my son playing in dresses and skirts and he was so full of joy, there was no denying the connection he felt to what he was wearing and I wasn’t going to stand in the way of that.
Of course the outside world is a different place and I understand your dilemma of at home dressing vs outside your home. What I would suggest is really thinking about how important it is to your son to wear what he wants. Kids really want autonomy when it comes to dressing, even at a young age and as parents and caregivers we think we know what’s “best” for our kids but we often overshadow and control. If your son is adamant about wearing a dress to school I would support him in doing so and be brave enough to show your son he should wear what he loves. You might experience some side glances and even some whispers but proudly walk your son to school and tell him how great he looks. The only praise and support he really needs is from you no matter what the experience is for him away from you. You have the power to keep your son grounded in knowing you support him 100%. He may have some negative experiences but you can hold him steady by supporting his own expression. It’s important that he knows he has you in his corner no matter what. It takes courage to be yourself and your son should feel proud to wear what makes him feel good. We all should!
Be brave! Your son is counting on you.
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.