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I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

4
Aug

thoughts on parenting :: individuality {repost}

This post reminds me that my girls are all different … and to answer my own question, I believe that my job as a parent is to foster confidence and individuality.
{original post 6.4.09}

Yesterday was “dress like your favorite book character” at school.  Fun, no?

Here’s the thing with my girls … they are pretty much their own little individuals.  I use to be harder on what I made let them wear … including Taylor.  Really, mostly with Taylor.  She groomed the way for the little girls.

When Taylor was six or seven, she had on a pair of bootcut pants that were about 2-3 inches well above her ankle.  Seeing that they were bootcut, she sure wasn’t gettin’ away with a capri look!

Anyway.  I told her to change her pants and she got upset.  “You just want me to be perfect,” she yelled said.  Stopped me in my tracks.

Wasn’t so much I wanted her to be perfect, as I wanted others to think she was perfect.  Hmm.

piper on dress-up day

She taught me something.

So now days {and for the last six or seven years}, I pretty much let them have their own style.  In fact, at church this past week, Wynter’s Sunday school teacher stopped me and remarked at what great style my girls have.

Note:  Wynter was wearing polka-dots … a bright pink variety on her sweater {that was probably layered over something striped} and light pink pants with a different polka-dotted variety.

“Gee, thanks,” I said to the teacher.  “They do dress themselves,” I added, lest she think their style was my style!  Right?

Anyway.  So back to today’s theme.

I’ve been asking the girls what character they’d like to dress up as … I had a few ideas of my own!  Ladybug Girl, maybe a Bible character, the classic Cinderella {or one of her princess friends}, and then of course the fallback … Fancy Nancy.  But nah … they had their own thoughts on what they were going to do.

wynter on dress-up day

They had their costumes all picked out and ready to go.  Piper was going to be the Fairy Godmother and Wynter was going to be Fancy Nancy.  They wouldn’t let me help with the costumes at all.  Everything I suggested was either too itchy, or not right.  So I watched as they put their outfits together.

Piper ended up with a really pretty ballerina type skirt with beautiful tulle and flowers; a fairy cape; the purple bodysuit she’s sporting above; and I was trying to convince her to wear her glittery Converse.  So she’s all set.

Wynter picked out a beautiful Cinderella character dress she got for Christmas.  She had the shoes, a tiara … she’s all set.  Oh! and I should mention … she’s not going as Cinderella … she’s going as Fancy Nancy.

They set everything out in their closets and go to bed.  When we get up the next morning, they get into their costumes … and look great.  Whew … all set.

Wait … those descriptions don’t at all match these photos, do they?  What happened?

Individuality, patience, and letting go, is what happened.

They were all dressed and ready to go, when they changed their minds.  They wanted to dress in something different.  Huge sigh from mama … “all right, go change.”

This is what they come back with.  Can you see the stain on Wynter’s dress?  My-oh-my … is it courage I have for sending them to school like this … or stupidity?

Wynter is still Fancy Nancy {did you look at the link folks?  she ain’t lookin’ so fancy … or so nancy!}.  And getta look at her shoes … well, more precisely, the socks!

And Piper, I assumed was still a fairy godmother.  But when we got in the car, I thought I should double check, so asked her what she was … she said she didn’t know.  I thought of a few things, but she said no … she wasn’t that.  She was perfectly happy with not having her costume defined.

wynter's shoes

And I couldn’t resist sharing these photos of Hunter.  She decided it was dress-up day at her school too!  My baby …

hunter on dress-up day

Okay, here’s the thing … I really love their individuality.  I love they are confident in who they are and what they want … well, unless it involves a tantrum in the middle of Target.

But when we got to school and I saw all the beautiful costumes … Harry Potter, Olivia, mermaids, Thing 1 and Thing 2 {a sister team … incredible!} … I had pangs of letting my kids down.

A friend of mine, and fellow mom … asked what Piper was, and I tried to blow it off so I didn’t have to say, “she doesn’t know.”  When she asked Piper directly what she was, Piper answered in complete confidence, “I don’t know.”

I kind of whispered above Piper to my friend, “she just wanted to get dressed up and this is what she chose.”  My friend said, “Oh! It wasn’t a big deal?  Cuz it was a really big deal in our house.”  I felt hurt.  It was a big deal in our house too … but I let the kids have the freedom of being what they wanted.

I got in the car feeling sad for them.  Questioning my parenting style.

Should I have been stronger about dressing them up?  Did I do them a disservice?  Are they sad they aren’t more dressed up?  Or am I just worrying too much about what other people think?  Hmm.

I’ve been pondering this a lot yesterday and today, and I guess when all is said and done … I would prefer they have the freedom to be individuals.  I would prefer they continue to be confident in who they are, what they look like and how they’re dressed.

And now that I think about it … Hunter went to school today in her pajama gown.  Not because I didn’t try to get her dressed … but because she felt like it.

What do you think?  Conform … or foster individuality?

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Posted in family thoughts, girls, parenting

 

4 Responses to “thoughts on parenting :: individuality {repost}”

  1. cyndi says:

    As I was reading this I had a fairly big realization…one huge reason my time with the girls went so well this summer (apart from the one huge issue J & I had) is because of you. While I know you & your words inspire me I don’t know that I could cite specific things I’ve done differently, I just know I’m changing because of you and the friendships I’ve gained through you (Heather, Leslie). Reading this post I realized that these words (along with others of yours) helped me not try to change the girls while they were here. If they wanted to wear something that I thought looked not-so-great, I didn’t say anything. I let them wear what they wanted & we were all happier because of it. It’s one battle we didn’t have and that helped strengthen our relationship. Natalie wore exactly what she wanted for the family picture and while I did gear Jordan toward certain colors, she picked & styled her own outfit. In the end, it was perfect. Thank you for helping me learn to let go. It’s a lesson I really needed and have reaped many rewards because of it :-)
    cyndi recently posted..another contender & a hands down favorite

  2. Another beautiful reflection!!! It is so vital to let them BE… BE free to make mistakes and BE free to dress silly or stylish and BE free to BE UNIQUELY WONDERFUL just the way God made them!!! Sometimes it is hard for me to step away… :) Your words help me to remember that GOD’s plan for them is WAY better than my plan for them!!!
    katherinemarie recently posted..Annual Whip Cream Fight

  3. CheezyK says:

    Absolutely, definitely foster individuality – conformity is not a good thing, particularly once they’re teenagers … they’ll find it much easier to stand up for their differences if they’ve had years of practice at it.
    CheezyK recently posted..I am a Geek …

  4. Liz says:

    I wonder the same exact thing – and I find myself letting my daughter choose things for normal days, and strong arming her into my choices, “better” choices, for the big deal days. I feel guilty both ways, and a little sad, too. I think our greatest parenting is letting our kids make their own way – terrrifying! How does God do it??? :-)

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