When I first had Miriam, there was no “choosing” of baby clothes. There were the amazing hand me downs that I so graciously accepted. I donated a few that were too stained or too unbearably not my taste. Mostly, I was so glad to have any clothes to put her in, and we were gifted such beautiful and like-new baby clothes that I couldn’t complain.
Now as she gets older and I buy her clothes more, I have begun to consider allll the different choices before me: should I buy gender neutral clothes so that they last for siblings? Let her choose everything herself? Steer her away from the bright hot pink so people don’t think I’m forcing it on her? Let her wear “boy” colors?
My conflict came to a head one day in Target when my daughter had this cheaply made Frozen shirt that looked like it would last about two rounds in the washer in her hand, asking “Have it?” I paused. We had one Frozen shirt at home already. She did need more shirts. But this one? I put it back. I picked it up again. I put it back again. Before I had kids I promised myself that I would let them be as free as I could, and make these kinds of choices for themselves. Why was I so reluctant to buy this darn shirt?
I ended up leaving it at the store, and here is why: I am trying to create a home culture where I respect my child, and teach her to behave in a way that others (including adults) will respect her. A lot of adults inherently do not respect children, or their tiny little minds, so it is important to me to teach her about what will get people to listen to her, and what won’t. Of course, she is a child, and the whole responsibility of being heard is not on her little shoulders… but what kind of message am I sending if I dress my child in clothes that I would not even wear because they are “silly” or “kiddish”?
Before you think I’m crazy, it isn’t that I don’t let her have regular kid clothes. She plays outside, she has a few character tees, she wears more pink than I do (because she loves it). I am not dressing her in tiny business suits, or fancy designer outfits. What I am doing is thinking when I make purchases… would I wear this? Is it too covered in frills / ridiculous looking? Will people look at her and see only this “cute baby” outfit or will they see her beautiful mind and engage with her as a person?
When she is old enough and I am able to explain this to her, she will make her clothing decisions for herself. I am all too happy to step back and watch my baby girl take the reins of her life and play a support role. Until then though, I’ll help her make choices that I think are wise, just as I do in all other areas of her life.