Raising a Daughter with class, not words across her butt.

*This is in response to LZ Granderson’s article titled, “Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps”

First, I love that this article was written by a Dad.  My father may not have liked my clothing choices, but it was my Mom that took me shopping and was there in the morning when I got dressed for the day.  Kudos for this Dad being not only involved, but vocal.

Now on to my daughter.  Makayla, “Kay” will be 9 on the 28th of this month. She is a Tom Boy one moment, out in the dirt and collecting bugs, slugs, and salamanders. She wears old clothes, climbs trees and doesn’t care what is going on with her hair. The next day she is a Fashionista, coming down the stairs in her latest outfit creation.  She loves “pretty things” and colors.

Her favorite thing to do when in a store is to go straight to the clothing section and look at the clothes.  We don’t have to be buying anything, she just likes to see what’s new, touch it all, and comment with her reviews.  Most Mom’s wouldn’t entertain this side trip while in a store.  They have other things to get and places to be, but this time is important to me.  This is when the door for what’s appropriate is opened for conversation and I will take every opportunity to have her attention.

Kay will hold up a shirt that is a little slinky looking. I’m able to look at it, agree that the colors are great, but talk about how the shirt was cut and that it shows too much.  Then, we look for an alternative pick. We do this over and over and over time, what I am saying is sinking in.  She now holds up an item and tells me if SHE thinks it’s right.  I know a lot of parents may look at this as a waste of time.  They would rather just tell their kids “no”  or “Because I said so” and be done with it.  The problem with that is, it only works for now.  Sure, I can tell my daughter that, but what happens when I don’t get a say anymore?  What happens when she has her own money and can do what she wants? I don’t want her to EVER dress like that, not even when she is 30.  I know she will make her own choices someday, but I want those choices to be base on something more than a “trend”.  I hope that the time I spend with her, the long talks we share, and the example I set will not only give her confidence, but that it will teach her to have class.

What scares me the most is the attention these girls want or the attention their parents want/allow them to have.  The whole words across the butt thing is just stupid. Why do you want someone reading words on your child’s butt!? Some are quick to say, “Oh, it’s just a fashion trend!” That’s crap.  When we get dresses in the morning, we are saying something about ourselves. If we iron our clothes, no matter how basic they are, it says we care about our appearance. If we put on something we feel is pretty, we feel pretty. We teach our children this by example and our conversations about clothing.

There are basic rules in our house about what you wear.

1. It has to be clean, wrinkle free

2. It has to fit

3. It has to be suitable for the day’s weather/activities

4. It has to be appropriate and NOT a distraction when a school day.

1. – 3. is self-explanatory.   4. can be hard. I don’t know how many days Kay has come down the stairs with a sequined scarf or large accessories.  These are distractions at school and have to be explained to her that even though it is very “fun”, it can be a distraction in class for her and other students who need to be focusing on learning, not your 50 silly bands up your arm.  She may not like it, but she understands it.

Brat Dolls were also banned from the beginning. My daughter wanted one and we went and looked at them. I will never forget standing in a toy aisle looking at a doll in “stage make-up”, fish net stockings, and tight revealing clothes . It was right next to Polly Pocket.  Wow.  I told Kay that they weren’t appropriate and she was devastated.  I hated telling her no, but what I hated more is that other parents didn’t see it as a big deal.  I’ve had other Mom’s tell me that they are just dolls and their daughters treat them as just that and would never be influenced by them.  I’ll respect that, but if I don’t want my daughter to dress or act that way, why would I give her a doll that does?

I do not agree with the way so many of these young girls are dressing.  And sadly, it isn’t their fault.  It is the parents responsibility to teach a child, to set an example, and to give them self-esteem.  It takes years of repetition and constantly being involved.  I know there will be many disagreements about clothing between my daughter and I.  I know there will be times where I just say, “no”.  But, at least there has been an ongoing conversation about it.  I can only hope that the things we talk about will stay with her for the day she is in the store by herself standing in front of a tube top labeled, “dress”.

14 thoughts on “Raising a Daughter with class, not words across her butt.

  1. We have rules in our house and I proudly hold the title of “Mean Mom”. I’m okay with that and know my kids will thank me someday, as I have with my mom. One of the rules is my girls must lift up both their arms, as if imitating Superman flying. If ANY part of their belly, back, stomach, or sides show, it is too short. This is also the rule for trying ON clothes in the store. It has now become in grained in them, that when they are “modeling” clothes in the store, they throw up their amrs w/in the first 3 seconds. (If the shirt is too short, they can remedy this by wearing a tank or cami under it to get a few more weeks wear out of it.) It doesn’t become an arguement, that’s just the way it is.

  2. We have a 7 year old (soon to be 8) and I thought I was crazy because I refuse to let her have the brat dolls. Not to mention now there are Moxy dolls and something about monster high dolls…. it just scares me lol. Our daughter has great taste in clothes and that is because we do the same with her. She will see a shirt and say Oh, I like it but it’s too low for me or shows too much skin, ooor, daddy would kill me if I wore that HAHAHA. But, I am glad that she is like this. She doesn’t just go for the fashion. I mean I don’t dress in that manner either so maybe that’s why she likes dressing in nice clothes! Her bio father buys her all kinds of inappropriate clothes and brat dolls and I told him I go through her things and if it’s not the right kind of clothing or any brat dolls, they go in the trash. he gets mad, but it’s not allowed in our house. We have a 3 year old who likes to wear dresses and be pretty, but once again, we even have restrictions on what she can wear. It’s sad to know that 3 year olds can get shirts that are just as reveling as an adult. I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!

  3. Marie,

    My parents and I took my 2 year old son to a somewhat neglected local playground in a low-income neighborhood on Saturday. I never would have taken him there by myself, but he’d been asking to go for what seemed like “aeons.” This playground happens to be on the route that I take to get to our church-which also runs the preschool he attends. So he’s been drooling over this place 6 days a week for a while. On to the point. The “prosti-tots” comment inspired me to post this story:

    We were having a wonderful afternoon soaking up some sunshine and playing with another family that pastors a church about 45 minutes outside of town, when a thuggish looking young man showed up. He looked like he -might- be in his early 20’s at the most and I couldn’t explain why (he wasn’t dressed inappropriately) but he just had this vibe that made me want to gently suggest we play on a different side of the playground than where he was sitting when G went over to inspect him.

    Then 10-15 minutes later the reason my skin was still crawling showed up in the form of two prostitutes (i’m sure they were of legal age). One was hispanic (as was the young man) and brought along 3 preteen girls dressed up like little “prosti-tots” who dashed over to the jungle gym while she and her lady friend in their gawdy makeup, daisy dukes/mini skirts (i couldn’t stand to look long enough to tell) and halter tops, started swinging on the swing set. I’m pretty sure I almost threw up a little in my mouth at this point, because my mom was on one swing, my dad was standing next to her, my son was playing with the rocks between them and I was on the other side of her. The family we’d been playing with was on another set of equipment and no sooner had the words “I think it’s time for G’s nap!!” left my lips, than I saw our new-found friends dashing for the gates as fast as they could with their children’s hands gripped firmly in theirs. “OK,” I thought “Not paranoid!”

    We headed for the car, got G loaded up, and turned back around to look back at the park and that’s when I noticed 2 things: 1) How the little girls were dressed; these girls were about 8-11 years old and they were tarted up so bad wearing tiny little skirts, pumps and tanks, that they could barely manage to climb the jungle gym. 2) One of the ‘adult’ prostitutes had gotten ‘picked up’ in the less than 10 minutes it took for us to gather jackets, water bottles and sippee cup, catch a 2 year old who didn’t want to leave, and make a break for the opposite side of the playground to get him strapped into my car. WOW! The one still there was obviously the mother of the girls on the jungle gym and at this point I wasn’t sure whether to cry or start looking for a paper bag to breathe into.

    Where they there waiting for their mother to turn tricks or did they have to participate, or do their own work? What possessed her to dress them like that?? If she thought she had to do what she was doing… What on earth was she doing exposing them to it. Did she think they were stupid?? All I could do was grip the steering wheel breathe deeply and beg God all the way home to keep the girls safe. I called the non-emergency line for the police station on the way home and gave them a full report of everything I’d seen.

    The mother, the girls and the young man were gone when they got there and the woman who got picked up before we left was the only one at the park. I told the dispatcher that was far less than reassuring to me!

    I apologize that this is probably swinging way off the topic of just how we let our children dress. But the elements were there and my heart was racing and I was still tasting fear, anxiety and disgust until I went to bed 8 hours later because a mother tarted her girls up and brought them along when she went to a park dressed up looking like a prostitute… So perhaps my comment does enforce the lessons you’re teaching your daughter after all. It DOES matter what you wear!

  4. Kelly-I have to admit, it’s sad but I laughed out loud at the “prosti-tots”. WOW. It’s true what you are saying. I am so shocked when I see young girls half dressed. Thanks for the comments and support! 🙂

  5. It’s good to hear that others still think this way! I taught k-3 before staying home with our daughter and was appalled at how some kids came to school. My husband and I are viewed as somewhat “old-school” when it comes to raising children and the words on the butt are my husbands biggest pet-peeve! He has labeled the beyond trendy toddlers dressed as rock stars as “prosti-tots”. We really enjoy your viewpoints and support for the military community, job well done!

  6. Well put. As a 22month old Dad that won’t allow words on the butt, you broadened my horizons. Thank you.

  7. Erin, I think you are doing great as a Mom. I never thought once that it was too early to teach my children anything. I read to them before they were born, sang to them and from the moment they could follow my words I used please and thank you, counted things, pointed out colors, etc. Children are sponges and it is never a waste of time to teach. 🙂 Love your comment and thank you for writing!

  8. Bravo, Marie! My only child is a 2 year old boy, and I found myself being more conscious of the way I dressed. Which for me just meant a desperate search for shirts that aren’t so low cut that I was afraid he was going to flash his lunch at someone before I could stop him, and camis that are cut higher and have wider shoulder straps… these things are almost impossible to find for women now.

    I’ve also been snickered at for trying to teach my son manners. I was modeling “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and “no thank you,” (which he’s changed to “no please,”) long before he could speak. As soon as he started trying to express his wants and needs, I began verbally modeling the correct way to request the desired item. I often sent a child who was only able to say “mama” and “baba” to his granny or grandpa with instructions such as, “Go ask Granny for some milk, baby. If you ask nicely and say “Please granny,” I bet she’ll get it for you.”

    He was a couple months shy of 2 years old when a friend of my mother’s told me that I was wasting my time teaching him manners at this age because there was “no way he could understand it. He’s not developmentally capable and won’t be until he’s “”(somewhere in elementary school, i can’t remember whether she said it was 6 or 9 years old).

    I was shocked! Not teach him manners? By the time he was old enough to “understand it” by her guess, it would be too late. I calmly informed her that since I believed it was essential for his social and speech development that I carry on as much intelligent conversation with him as possible, I would rather spend the time and energy setting an example of how he should interact with others. Between my efforts and her theory, by the time he is capable of understanding why he’s supposed to say “please” and “thank you,” and “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” then he would have been hearing me use those manners for YEARS, and he’d have been using them for just as long himself.

  9. Thanks for the great comment! I LOVE what you quoted, “dressing attractively and dressing to attract”. This is very true. I know a few adults that could benefit from hearing this. 😉 And ironed….thrown in the dryer with a damp item….all the same. I promise I do not iron everything either. Ha! I too would have dressed differently as a teenager if I would have been more aware. My choices weren’t horrible, but then again we didn’t have the choices girls have now. I’m actually shocked at what you can buy. Again, thanks for the great comment, It is a wonderful addition to the post!

  10. Love this. My daughter is only 2, but I am already conscious of what she is wearing. If it’s not something I will want her to wear when she is ten, it’s not something I’m going to let her wear now. It is difficult at times to find clothes! I got out my sewing machine and am learning to use it, to give us more options with patterns, or to be able to alter tops or dresses that are almost acceptable. I am especially aware of this because I was simply unaware as a teenager that what I wore mattered. I didn’t wear extremely immodest clothing, but I would have dressed differently if I had known how distracting it could be to male friends. One thought has stuck with me (I’m not sure where I read it now): there is a difference between dressing attractively and dressing to attract. I want to be sure that I, and my daughter, stay on the “dressing attractively” side. Though our clothes won’t all be ironed :). Thanks for sharing about the conversations you have at the store, I’ll definitely use that as my children get older!

  11. Thank you Jeff. I love your reply. That is exactly the point I am trying to make. It does take time…time and energy! But I only have one shot at this. I’m not perfect, I will make mistakes, but I will do my best to raise my children to be defined by their character and their integrity.

  12. “I hope that the time I spend with her, the long talks we share, and the example I set will not only give her confidence, but that it will teach her to have class.”

    Excellent viewpoint. “Because I said so” doesn’t work. It’s about teaching your kids how you want them to be, and allowing them to grow into it. And it takes time.

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