Adult Battles

People are so weird. This is from a father of a 3-year-old:

I confess, though, my reaction has shocked me. Each time I see him slip into his dress — it has Elsa’s face on the bodice — I pray that she uses her magic to zap my tongue with frostbite. I don’t want to tell him, “Dresses are for girls,” but I’ve had the impulse to do so.

I have already explained to Klara that dresses and makeup are for ladies and gentlemen can’t have them. And that gentlemen have moustaches and beards that ladies can’t have. Three is precisely the age when a child begins to learn about gender differences. A parent shouldn’t abdicate the role of guiding the child through these discoveries.

A parent’s role is to socialize a child into the existing world. If for some deeply bizarre reason one thinks “dresses are for ladies” is a custom that needs to be abolished, one should fight for that in the adult world and not expect a toddler to wage this battle for him.

9 thoughts on “Adult Battles

  1. Eh, depends on the context. My son’s Elsa dress is in the dress-up bin with the Superman cape. He chooses by mood. But can’t wear either to daycare, because not clothes.


      1. It’s clear to me that my son wants to be Elsa or Wonder Woman, not to be a girl generally speaking. I’d react differently if I thought it was about gender instead of about role playing— still his choice but a different one and more fraught.


        1. And that’s perfectly normal. My kid pretends she’s a dog and says woof-woof. This doesn’t mean I take it as a revelation of her immanent doggy essence and put her on a leash. It means I let her play doggy in appropriate contexts.


          1. Yeah, what struck me as weird about that quote is that he made it about wearing dresses rather than about role play.


          2. “This doesn’t mean I take it as a revelation of her immanent doggy essence”

            Wait a few years and parents will have take their children who pretend to be animals to furry conventions….


        2. “my son wants to be … Wonder Woman.” When I was a teenage boy, I was a huge fan of the Wonder Woman TV series with Lynda Carter, and I wanted to be Wonder Woman, too. But I didn’t literally want to be a girl or woman. Turns out that many other gay men my age, who grew up in the late 70’s, also idolized Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. This might have been a little bit about gender and sexuality, but it was mostly about role playing.


  2. Well, once upon a time pants were for gentlemen only, but not anymore. So what if men now decided that dresses/skirts are ok for them too?
    Ladies can’t grow a beard or a mustache (generally), but a piece of clothing is not biologically determined.


    1. I’m all for men deciding what they want to wear and adopting dresses or bikinis or whatever if that’s what they want. But the operative word here is men. If this author shared a story about himself wearing a dress, I’d have no problem with that. But this is a very little child. He can’t “decide” anything like that.


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