My five-year-old daughter, RAD, dresses herself. She learned to do this several years ago and has done it ever since. I remember the days of chasing a toddler with chubby cheeks around while simultaneously trying to pull her clothes on. What a wonderful change it was to be able to tell her to get dressed and she do it independently! Sometimes she still asks “why?” and I usually respond with something about how nice to wear clean clothes when we go out of the house. It’s true, but if we’re being real, sometimes my clothes aren’t even clean!
RAD is not what you would call a “girly-girl”. She usually wears shorts/pants and a t-shirt. She loves a good sneaker as well. Right now her favorite shoes are bright green dinosaur Vans. I’m jeans and a t-shirt with Vans dresser myself. Her most definable piece of clothing is her dinosaur fleece hat that she’s worn for the last two years.
Here’s the thing. We will go out for errands, haircuts, classes, doctor’s appointments, and we get, “Oh, did you dress yourself today? I can tell!” or “Ooh! You LET her dress HERSELF??!! Good for you!” while she is right there next to me. Yes, good for me for letting my five-year-old express herself through her outfit. Are we supposed to be wearing ballgowns to Target? Have I missed some kind of memo? She picked out clothes that she likes and feels comfortable in so who are we to judge? And why are we saying these things to a five-year-old? What are we expecting her to learn from your comments? What are your children learning from you when you say these things?
I know that RAD will have to deal with mean girls, but Moms, those mean girls learn those mean things at home. We as women and as moms need to watch how we talk about ourselves, other women, and really everyone. If we really want a kinder world, let’s start with ourselves. Instead of “Did you dress yourself today? I can tell!” maybe try a genuine compliment such as, “I love your dinosaur shoes!” or “I love your hat!” Or if you can’t really think of anything nice to say, say nothing with your words or your face. And make sure to not go home and talk about people behind their backs. This generation is going to rule the world someday. Let’s make sure that they are more concerned about being nice, being passionate, and being curious, instead of what they are wearing.
How are your words changing the world?