As parents, it’s our decision to allow our children the opportunity to explore their individuality and to act and dress in a manner that helps them find their true selves, or to bestow our belief system onto them and attempt to mold them into who we think they should be.
The topic of allowing children to dress in gender-bending fashion has been a hot topic lately, with the parenting police coming out in full force slamming mothers for their children’s clothing choices. Parents around the U.S., even celebrity ones like Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron, have been under fire for allowing their boys to wear princess costumes and girls to dress in “boy-like” attire.
Last week, Jen Anderson Shattuck took to Facebook to share an experience of being shamed by a complete stranger who accused her of child abuse for “allowing” her son to wear a tutu. The story, posted on August 24, has quickly gone viral — garnering over 48k likes and 44k shares in five short days.
“My three-and-a-half-year-old son likes to play trucks. He likes to do jigsaw puzzles. He likes to eat plums. And he likes to wear sparkly tutus,” she begins. “If asked, he will say the tutus make him feel beautiful and brave. If asked, he will say there are no rules about what boys can wear or what girls can wear.”
She continues on to explain that her son, who wears tutus to church, the grocery store, on the train, and in the sandbox, has never had an issue with his clothing choices up until now.
“Yesterday, on our walk to the park, my son and I were accosted by someone who demanded to know why my son was wearing a skirt. We didn’t know him, but he appeared to have been watching us for some time.”
The man said to her, “I’m just curious. Why do you keep doing this to your son?” And then he really crossed the line when he said, directly to her son, “She shouldn’t keep doing this to you. You’re a boy. She’s a bad mommy. It’s child abuse.”
He then proceeded to take pictures of Shattuck and her son, and threatened her. “Now everyone will know,” he said. “You’ll see.”
Scared, Shattuck called the police, who took their report and complimented her son on his skirt.
She goes on to write, “Still, my son does not feel safe today. He wants to know: ‘Is the man coming back? The bad man? Is he going to shout more unkind things about my skirt? Is he going to take more pictures?’”
It is quite clear in this situation that Shattuck’s son is going to be way more traumatized by this awful man’s behavior, than he possibly could for wearing a tutu.
Despite this horrifying situation, Shattuck refuses to let other people dictate her son’s fashion choices.
“I will not be intimidated. I will not be made to feel vulnerable or afraid. I will not let angry strangers tell my son what he can or cannot wear,” she continues.
What she says next is nothing short of poetic:
“The world may not love my son for who he is, but I do. I was put on this earth to make sure he knows it. I will shout my love from street corners. I will defend, shouting, his right to walk down the street in peace, wearing whatever items of clothing he wants to wear. I will show him, in whatever way I can, that I value the person he is, trust in his vision for himself, and support his choices — no matter what anybody else says, no matter who tries to stop him or how often.
Our family has a motto. The motto is this: We are loving. We are kind. We are determined and persistent. We are beautiful and brave. We know who we are. Angry strangers will not change who we are. The world will not change who we are — we will change the world.”
What we can all learn from this mom is that it isn’t enough to allow our children to express themselves however they desire. We must also encourage them to stay true to themselves, despite the judgment of others. When her son was afraid of the “bad man” coming back, she didn’t tell him to take off his tutu so that he wouldn’t have to hear anything more about it. She is teaching him to be proud of who he is and to fight back against adversity and ignorance.
And that’s how you change the norm, ladies and gentleman.More On