Kids, Clothes and Balance

My mom distinguished herself in my early childhood by letting us kids dress ourselves at age four or five. We quickly learned some critical life lessons: Wool tights are a bad choice in June in Washington D.C. You will not be smote if you wear ratty red Converse sneakers to church. Sleeping in a wet one-piece leads to an interesting bathing suit-shaped rash. The most important lesson was that she trusted us to make decisions (albeit small ones) for ourselves. This freedom also made her child-care burden a little lighter since she didn't have to dress us four kids on a daily, or hourly, basis.

How we dress our kids -- or were dressed as kids -- says a lot about us. My husband picks out entirely different outfits for our five year old than I would (and he doesn't get stressed by things being inside out, unmatched, or backwards). My kids' K-12 school has one rule: Students must wear shoes. An acquaintance still dresses her three teenaged boys -- I swear I have seen them all wearing matching Winnie the Pooh T-shirts. I am convinced years of therapy await them. Some parents apparently think lace camisoles and thongs are okay for girls under 10. There is a healthy balance in what you let your children wear -- and we all seem to draw a different line in the sand.

What's yours? At what age should kids dress themselves? What drives you crazy in kids' clothing choices? Do you and your spouse (or mother-in-law) mark clothing as a hot button issue?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 3, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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First!
This is a role I happily delegate to 3YO DS. If it's seasonal and clean, it works for me! If it's wonky and someone raises an eyebrow, I just say "isn't it great how he's learning to express himself?" Who can argue with that?

Posted by: diaworld | August 3, 2007 7:22 AM

We helped our kids pick out their clothing purchases in the store. As soon as they were able to express an opinion (probably 3, definitely 4), they got to choose styles and colors, where we already had approval.

At home, they could pick out their outfits each day, even if that meant dressing out of season. After a couple of instances, they got the idea.

After a while, they knew not to ask for anything outrageously styled or priced, because they would be given more modestly designed and priced alternatives.

The payoff now is that they do their own shopping, with their own money. They know we will reimburse them later if we aprove.
They have learned early on to use coupons, and the discount racks to get good quality clothing at the best price.

If they want to get something inappropriate or expensive, it comes out of their funds, so they just don't bother.

They still look fashionable, but not trampy.

Posted by: chemguy1157 | August 3, 2007 7:27 AM

"Sleeping in a wet one-piece leads to an interesting bathing suit-shaped rash."

Ha! This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where one of Jerry's girlfriends claimed she had caught gonorreha while driving a tractor in a bathing suit!

Posted by: anonforthis | August 3, 2007 7:49 AM

Our son is 2. Usually what I do is offer a couple of appropriate choices and let him pick one. It seems to work pretty well. We do this in the store too.

Posted by: Wioleta | August 3, 2007 7:59 AM

My mom was good about giving me a choice, too. Once or twice going to school without shoes or in shorts when it was 40 degrees taught me more quickly than any bargaining or negotiation would. In 6th grade, I would regularly wear my Little League baseball uniform. She never raised an eyebrow, but boy, the prissy girls in my class sure did! I don't have any children of my own, but when I was a nanny, I gave the child a few choices that were warm enough and clean. They learned to do the rest very early.

Posted by: Brackett | August 3, 2007 8:10 AM

I go naked all year long. I let my kids do the same if they want!

Posted by: nonamehere | August 3, 2007 8:18 AM

My daughter shops for all the latest name-brand fashions. I would rather have her hang with the cool and popular crowd than the group of kids that dress like they are somebody else's lunch money.

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 3, 2007 8:28 AM

I was at the Abercrombie store for kids (Fitch? What's the name?) shopping for a friend's kid. They had thong underwear small enough to fit a 7 year old!! I hope the exclamation points express my outrage.

That being said, I was always amused at the kids at my camp (8-11). The parents usually packed for the 2 week stay. Some girls were good about keeping dirty clothes separate and wearing matching clothes. Some had no fashion sense but still managed to find clean stuff even if it didn't match. But some acted like they had never seen clothes before. I bet these kids had clean clothes laid out for them every night. Each wore the same outfit for a week--the one she arrived in--after staring at her neatly packed clothes for an eternity every morning. It's like they couldn't make decisions.

Posted by: Meesh | August 3, 2007 8:30 AM

Also, I remember many many fights about clothes with my mom. I went to Catholic school, so I wore a uniform through high school. I think that's why I tried to rebel with clothes--I had very little decision-making power when it came to clothes.

My husband and I talk about if we had a daughter. He insists that she would never dress like the girls we see today (the horror!). I just smile because I know that after a certain age, we would just give up the fight and let her wear what she wants. That's what my mom did! I did eventually learn how to dress like a normal person.

Posted by: Meesh | August 3, 2007 8:36 AM

Meesh, what's so bad about Little Mermaid thong underware? It's not like they wear it on the outside of their outfit like Superman wears his bright red panties.

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 3, 2007 8:39 AM

Lil Husky, gross! Can you imagine thongs outside clothes? And the idea of cartoon thongs makes my skin crawl. Thanks for upping the ick factor this morning :)

Posted by: Meesh | August 3, 2007 8:45 AM

I let my dd start dressing herself around age 3-4. Yes, she came up with crazy combinations and sometimes clashed, but I call that "small stuff" and I didn't want to sweat it. I know we got funny looks at preschool from the mothers who had to fashionably color coordinate their little darling but oh well. Now that she is 11 she is much better at coordinating but as long as she doesn't wear thongs or belly shirts I am fine with what she wears.

Posted by: mosere | August 3, 2007 8:47 AM

I still choose all of DD's clothes at the store (she's 20 months old). At home, if she feels like picking an outfit, that's ok, but she doesn't seem to care what she wears on her body. Her feet, however, are another matter. DD loves shoes, and insists on picking her own every day. Right now, it's easy, as she only has two pair. Bit I see battles on the horizon -- at the store a few weeks ago, I caught her kissing a pair of crocs.

Which brings me to my (admittedly neurotic) kid's clothes pet peeve -- crocs. I think the shoes themselves are kind of cute, but the range of colors confounds me. It bugs me when brightly colored shoes clash with the rest of an outfit. I will probably end up getting DD a pair for the fall, and I guess I'm either going to have to get used to it when they clash or plan her fall wardrobe to coordinate (which is probably too neurotic, even for me).

My other pet peeve is toddler clothing with rude slogans. Target has a whole line of them, and I can't help but wonder what kind of parent puts their kid in a shirt that says "brat," or "blame my sister."

Posted by: newsahm | August 3, 2007 8:48 AM

newsahm, Maybe those "blame my sister" shirts for toddlers are gifts from their mother's siblings, with a subliminal message ;-)

Posted by: mehitabel | August 3, 2007 8:53 AM

I guess I'm going to be one of those evil moms that won't allow her DD the latest trashy clothes. I choose her clothing in the store, but do let her pick out her outfit for the day - she is 3, I normally give her a couple of choices, but these are from clothes that I have purchased. I'm already getting the "but mom, Susie wears (enter whatever)". But I also know what the possible result will be because my mother was the same way, and I would buy some of my own clothes and keep them at a friends house, and change on my way to school. So, my daughter won't be able to fool me, BTDT.

Posted by: D_in_MD | August 3, 2007 8:57 AM

We started letting our daughter dress herself when she turned three. She's four now and has an amazing sense of style - her outfits maybe aren't what I'd pick, but who cares? I love that she carefully coordinates her jewelry selection for the day with her mismatched socks and I think she's more confident when she feels good about her appearance. I do draw some lines - no, you can't wear shorts to the orchestra and yes, you have to wear shoes to the playground. I don't buy the trampy outfits that seem so popular on the shelves, but she doesn't want them anyway so it's not an issue yet. (Hello, Target? My preschooler does not walk the streets for a living. Please start selling childrens' clothing appropriate for non-hookers.)

But as far as choosing among the articles of clothing that she owns? Why should I do that for another human being who's perfectly capable of doing it themselves?

Posted by: beardo1 | August 3, 2007 8:57 AM

My girl started dressing herself at 2 -- like others said, I just gave her two reasonable choices and let her pick.

Now we are at the point (6) where she will soon have to go shopping with me. She notices freaking everything -- the tag is scratchy, the waist is too tight, the waist is too loose, etc. -- so most of the stuff I pick out is rejected. This year, I bought her a bunch of her favorite clothes from last summer (soft jersey skirts with shorts built in), and they've been sitting in her dresser while she wears her three gymnastics outfits over and over and over (2 yrs old = WAY too small -- but everything else is "uncomfortable."). Yeah, it's only Target, but I'm still not going to throw my money away. So as much as I dread it, I'm gonna have to suck it up and take the girl with me (and THEN teach her that we don't get it just because it's "pretty").

We have very few truly unbreakable rules. 1. If it's cold, she has to bring a coat or sweater; don't care much if it's the other way round (if she wears heavy tights in summer, she'll figure it out soon enough). 2. Daddy decides when dresses get put in the giveaway pile -- usually way sooner than I would say so, but he cares the most, so he gets to choose. 3. And most importantly, no matter what, she's not going to be dressing like some Bratz doll. Luckily, that hasn't been a big issue to date, but there have been a few things I have absolutely vetoed, no discussions, no questions asked.

Posted by: laura33 | August 3, 2007 9:08 AM

On the buying side I exercise control of choices. As to what my 4 yo wears, if it is in her closet or dresser, it is fair game. My DH decided he couldn't stand her wearing the princess dress up clothes outside, so I put those in another closet and declared them playclothes only.

Posted by: shandavegh | August 3, 2007 9:28 AM

Well, as a frequent purchaser at thrift stores long before they become chic (necessity transformed into sensible habits), my kids often have a wide selection of clothes to choose from. Except socks, underwear and swimsuits. Some things I refuse to purchase used.

I always let the kids choose what they wanted. After all, I knew there wasn't anything trampy available. Oh, there were some interesting/colorful choices. Stripes with plaids. Clashing colors. But no one went blind and no car accidents ensued.

Since then, they've figured out what they like to wear and what looks nice.

No one tries to look trampy. One kid has figured out that a slight v-neck cut with a little "lace" is a good look. It's not lace, it's something else, some sort of embroidery deal. I should ask my mom, she'll know.

So far, so good.

Next up! Determining whether it's time for child #2 to start own laundry. I think it's just about time to at least DO the washing, maybe I'll handle the dryer, rather than worrying about whether the kid will fall off of a chair trying to hoist wet clothes.

Ooh, and passing along the magic of how clean clothes get folded AND twinkled into drawers...

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 3, 2007 9:37 AM

I LOVED the story about the matching WInnie the Pooh's. There's a mom down here where we live who's a little strange -- she dresses her middle-school aged sons in matching outfits, and usually she wears something in the same color family so that they all "match". I remember having the same thought about the therapy.

Regarding MILs and clothing choices, my MIL loves to buy clothes for our kids -- but in the summer months, they seem to wear bathing suits for the most part and consider shoes optional. All the clothes she buys them just sit in big unused piles. Wish I could convince her to save her money.

I have only a few hard and fast clothing rules. At the moment, the one I'm having trouble enforcing is "we don't wear flip-flops to church." When all three were toddlers, my favorite rule was "only one family member may go out in public wearing a costume at any given time -- unless it's actually Halloween." One Cinderella in the grocery store I could handle -- three was pushing it.

Posted by: justlurking | August 3, 2007 9:44 AM

My son couldn't care less what he wears most days, but my daughter is extremely involved and so sometimes ends up looking like what my darling grandmother calls "a ragamuffin". Yesterday she wore black patent leather boots with a nightgown all day. She looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie.

Except for stuff like family photos and so forth, I don't care what my children wear at this age. It gives them a sense of control to choose their clothes. Why start an argument unnecessarily? I'm saving my energy for the teenage years . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 3, 2007 9:48 AM

My daughters are 11 and 13 and dress themselves, but we have veto rights. We're lucky that they're fairly conservative, anyway (my daughter said she doesn't hang out with one girl because "Mom - she wears a THONG"), but they also know they can't wear spaghetti straps to church and their school doesn't allow really short butt-cheek-hanging-out shorts.

When my oldest daughter was in 6th grade, my husband actually bugged her to dress up more. She wanted to wear her baggy athletic shorts (i.e. from her soccer uniform) all the time. Now that she's older, she is more conscience about what she wears, though those shorts still come out sometimes.

Once they hit about 5th grade, they started being responsible for putting their clean clothes into their drawers. The result was that they went to school looking like they slept in their shorts. I couldn't own that. I said something to them but let them go. Others might have seen me as a "Slacker Mom" but kids need to learn to be responsible for themselves. Heck, I don't even iron my own clothes unless I really HAVE TO. And throwing them into the dryer with a wet towel does the trick, too ;-).

Posted by: jlkirk | August 3, 2007 9:49 AM

I'm just laughing thinking of all you folks with young kids, and what lies ahead. With three teenagers and a 10-year old, we're getting close to being through with this. We let them start dressing themselves at probably about 3 or 4, subject to our veto. (Appropriate attire for church, appropriate footwear for the weather - no sandals in January - and things like that.)

I don't care if my clothes match unless it's an important business meeting, so I'm really not going to care if the kids' clothes match. On the other hand, "inside out" is generally something we'll fix. :-)

DW is a bit more fussy, but she just accepts it now. No belly shirts in public; appropriate undergarments are required for all children; and a few similar rules, and we just tolerate the rest.

DS goes to an all-boys Catholic high school; he took a while to accept that he WILL wear an undershirt underneath his shirt and tie. I've seen the no-T-shirt look from enough engineers to know that it ain't a pretty sight - and besides it makes the dress shirts last longer because they don't directly absorb the sweat.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 3, 2007 9:59 AM

Others might have seen me as a "Slacker Mom" but kids need to learn to be responsible for themselves.

WorkingMomX,

Come, join me on the dark side, I have cookies! (Or maybe a margarita because the weekend is upon us.)

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 3, 2007 10:02 AM

but my daughter is extremely involved and so sometimes ends up looking like what my darling grandmother calls "a ragamuffin". Yesterday she wore black patent leather boots with a nightgown all day. She looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie.

That's kind of my life too. Son doesn't care daughter does. Last weekend, she had on red cowboy boots, a beach hat and a dallas cowboys jersey. Ragamuffin indeed

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 10:05 AM

newsahm: "My other pet peeve is toddler clothing with rude slogans. Target has a whole line of them, and I can't help but wonder what kind of parent puts their kid in a shirt that says "brat," or "blame my sister."

___________

The worst I've seen was a friend of my daughter's and the girl's mother. I saw them at the mall one day.

The 13-year old girl was wearing a shirt that said "If you think I'm a b*tch you should see my mother" (and the word was spelled out fully on the shirt). Right next to the girl was her mother, wearing a shirt that said "If you think I'm a b*tch you should see my daughter."

And they thought it was clever!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 3, 2007 10:08 AM

maryland_mother, I would love a margarita, but could we have chips and salsa on the side instead of cookies? :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 3, 2007 10:08 AM

Hi guys, missed you. My daughter is not generally interested in picking out her own clothes. But every once in a while she will ask to wear something. She does the crazy combinations too. Like wanting to wear her beach cover up as a shirt or wear a night gown, sun glasses, a tiara, and dress up shoes. Her latest is to be completely naked under her cheetah coat. It is pretty funny. Overall, I have a lot of fun picking out her clothes but I think my time of doing that is really limited. I think maybe one more year. After that I will just buy what I like and let her have reasonable choices between two or three outfits each day. As she gets older, we will have to change the strategy. One thing you can do is, buy what you find appropriate and alternate your choices. My SIL does that with my 11 year old niece. One day is the child's choice and the next is the parents etc... Everything must be appropriate and seasonal specific. Lil_Husky, just out of curiosity, why do you think clothes are that important? Dressing appropriately doesn't have to mean they look like they were dressed from the last hour of a garage sale.

Posted by: foamgnome | August 3, 2007 10:11 AM

WMX,

Absolutely.

Actually, let's have crab cakes too. How about soy bean ice cream for dessert? It tastes kind of peanut-buttery, but not quite as nutty or as sweet. I've only been able to find it at Sushi King, darn it.

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 3, 2007 10:12 AM

maryland_mother, I'm just waiting for someone (Emily? dotted?) to offer up some virtual flan and then we'll really have a party!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 3, 2007 10:14 AM

Did someone mention Flan?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 10:15 AM

My son has been dressing himself since he was three. At first, I would lay out his clothes for him, but now, I just make sure he has clean cloths. He has on drawer for socks and underwear, one drawer for pajamas, and one for shorts (in the summer) and long pants (in the winter), and one for tops. I make sure the drawers have weather appropriate clothes for the season, and let hime wear whatever he wants. Sure, sometimes clothes don't match, but it really does not concern me or him. The only times I think about what he is wearing is if we are going to some kind of event where he must dress up a little. Otherwise, he is free to choose whatever he wants to wear. I have found that with him, clothes are not an issue at all. He is happy as long as the clothes are comfortable. I make a concious effort not to emphasize name brands or that kind of thing, and rather to emphasize presentability, practicality and frugality. We buy at sales, get hand me downs from friends and cousins, and buy gently used stuff.

Posted by: Emily | August 3, 2007 10:17 AM

Guess pATRICK has been lurking just waiting for the Flan ;-)

Posted by: D_in_MD | August 3, 2007 10:18 AM

"The 13-year old girl was wearing a shirt that said "If you think I'm a b*tch you should see my mother" (and the word was spelled out fully on the shirt). Right next to the girl was her mother, wearing a shirt that said "If you think I'm a b*tch you should see my daughter."

Oh, my God! It's the END OF THE WORLD! Kingdoms will fall and rivers will flood!

Posted by: anonforthis | August 3, 2007 10:18 AM

Flan? Purrrrrrr.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 3, 2007 10:19 AM

What always irriated me were people who dressed their small children in expensive clothes nearly all the time. Tommy shirts, polo shoes etc for everyday wear. I can understand for church having some nice clothes but otherwise it just seemed so ridiculous.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 10:21 AM

Posted by: mehitabel | August 3, 2007 10:19 AM

good kitty

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 10:22 AM

Am I the only person who avoids clothing with visible "popular" brand-name labels -- or who removes the labels from some garments where feasible, thus creating do-it-yourself generics?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 3, 2007 10:24 AM

Welcome to another episode of "Everybody Loves pATRICK."

Posted by: anonforthis | August 3, 2007 10:25 AM

Our daughter has recently turned 3 and she can put on her own shoes and shorts, not tops. I'm trying to teach her and my mom is telling me I am insane for thinking kids this young should be able to get dressed. We had the same issue with my daughter feeding herself - my mom believes she is too young, I believe she should eat on her own. I grew up in Russia and I wonder if this a cultural difference, but it's been an ongoing issue:)

Nataly from workitmom.com

Posted by: nataly | August 3, 2007 10:26 AM

Posted by: anonforthis | August 3, 2007 10:25 AM

I would never have thought that for OB. LOL.My mission is to figure out who you are, because you were a regular troll in a previous incarnation. Any ideas?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 10:30 AM

Alright, this is stupid, but it always irks me to see kids wearing rain or snow boots when the weather is pleasant outside. I know that 99% of the time junior or missy insisted that they wear the duck galoshes, but to me it seems like an easy line to draw and parents have chosen not to.

My little guy can't wear sandals to daycare because kids will stub their toes when they are running around outside. I don't know why it would be harder for other parents to say 'no' to the boots than it is for me to say 'no' to my son when he wants to wear his sandals.

Just a pet peeve.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 3, 2007 10:32 AM

Alright, this is stupid, but it always irks me to see kids wearing rain or snow boots when the weather is pleasant outside.

I have a teenager who does this. In the child's defense, they are soft snow boots that go up to about mid-calf and they are incredibly comfortable. I'm regretting not buying two pairs, or more. Lands End doesn't carry them anymore. Drat.

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 3, 2007 10:39 AM

That's kind of my life too. Son doesn't care daughter does. Last weekend, she had on red cowboy boots, a beach hat and a dallas cowboys jersey. Ragamuffin indeed

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 10:05 AM

pATRICK, you have finally succeeded in offending me! You let your daughter wear a COWBOYS jersey??? That is just over the top. They should ban you from the blog for that ;-)

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 3, 2007 10:42 AM

pATRICK

"My mission is to figure out who you are, because you were a regular troll in a previous incarnation. Any ideas?"

Yeah. Get a REAL life, putz!

Posted by: anonforthis | August 3, 2007 10:43 AM

The Duggers just had their 17th child. I don't even know where to start with that one. 17?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 10:43 AM

pATRICK, you have finally succeeded in offending me! You let your daughter wear a COWBOYS jersey??? That is just over the top. They should ban you from the blog for that ;-)

Oh no, you are a redskin fan or GULP, EVEN WORSE an eagles fan? The horror! The horror! ;) btw I think that anonforthis is BORN FREE, BRAINFREE, ETC.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 10:45 AM

To nataly: My daughter turned 3 in May and has been dressing herself since about 2 1/2, but recently since she saw her cousin who is 18 months being dressed and fed, she now wants me to dress her and feed her. I tell her she is a big girl and that I love her that she is growing up and that I am proud of her that she can do these things for herself, but I think she feels that if she does things for herself, that somehow this means I don't want to take care of her. I hear this sometimes happens when a new sibling is born, but have not heard it happen when it's a relative (that has only been to our house once).

Posted by: D_in_MD | August 3, 2007 10:48 AM

I am a Jets fan.

It is my mission in life to raise another little Jets fan, even here in DC. I can live with him being a Republican, but if he's not a Jets fan I will never forgive myself :-)

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 3, 2007 10:48 AM

mehitabel, yes, every since I was a little kid I've hated clothing with brand names on them. Why should I pay to advertise for them? I remember at times it would be hard to find, for instance, a pair of jeans that didn't have the logo on the back.

Posted by: carifly | August 3, 2007 10:49 AM

My son (2.5 yo) sometimes loves to pick his clothes, sometimes doesn't care. When he does pick them, it's a riot. He recently decided that he must wear his socks pulled all the way up to his knees ("Just like Grandpa!"). So the last outfit he picked out was orange socks pulled all the way up, olive green shorts, a red T-shirt and a blue hawaiian shirt over that. It was a pretty spectacular.

We buy all his clothes at consignment stores and usually one of us will run out and do it quickly by ourselves, I'm hoping to get away with this as long as I can because it's just so much faster and I hate shopping!

Posted by: LizaBean | August 3, 2007 10:52 AM

17 - that is ridiculus and selfish (I know I'm going to get flamed for this, so fire away). If they love children and raising a family so much, there are plenty of kids in the foster care system that could use a home.

Posted by: D_in_MD | August 3, 2007 10:52 AM

Nataly, our son is also learning to dress himself. He recently started Montessori and they are very good about teaching kids to do everything themselves. He can do his underwear and pants by himself and is getting there with shirts - it takes a lot of self restraint for me not to do it for him out of habit or convenience though.

Posted by: LizaBean | August 3, 2007 10:57 AM

am a Jets fan.

It is my mission in life to raise another little Jets fan, even here in DC. I can live with him being a Republican, but if he's not a Jets fan I will never forgive myself :-)

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 3, 2007 10:48 AM


That's how i feel! He can grow up to be a pittypat democrat if he wants, but come sunday, it's silver and blue. At least you have the "mangenius"

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 10:58 AM


ProudPapa15 - then I still bear a grudge against you for December 14, 1980!

(For those not in the know - the New Orleans Saints lost the first 14 games of the 1980 season after having been expected to make the playoffs and challenge for the division title. Drugs will do that to a team.

That was the season that many of us Saints fans took to going to games as "bagheads". Wear a paper bag over your head, refer to the team as the "Ain'ts", and root for them anyway.

The Ain'ts were on their way to the first (and only) 0-16 record in NFL history until they ran into the Jets. The Ain'ts blew it by winning 21-20 - and many of us are still convinced that the game was fixed. The Jets were in position for the game-winning field goal but ran out the clock without kicking!)

If we had to sit through that season, it should have at least ended in an unbreakable record!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 3, 2007 10:58 AM

maryland_mother, have you tried green tea ice cream? It's heaven!

pATRICK, it's a shame that I have to hate you now. GO SKINS!

D_in_MD, I totally agree with you on the 17 kid family.

Posted by: Meesh | August 3, 2007 11:07 AM

Hi, this is the blog contributer occasionally known as MaryB.

My daughter is 16 months old and my husband and I do slight schedule shifting to lessen her time at daycare. This means he dresses her M-Th and I dress her Friday through weekend. I pick her up in the afternoons wondering what he put her in that morning... it's getting to be a game between us. As someone else mentioned, he chooses very differently than I would, but it's never bad. He always has the poor timing of dressing her in white shirts when they are finger painting though!

As for the daughter, she is only just beginning to recognize that she is wearing clothes. Shoes and socks have been a long-time source of fascination though.

Posted by: nahnah | August 3, 2007 11:11 AM

pATRICK, it's a shame that I have to hate you now. GO SKINS

It's ok, I understand the hatred--
The Cowboys are the most successful team in the history of the NFL, holding the league records for most consecutive winning seasons (20, from 1966 to 1985) and most seasons with at least 10 wins (24). The team has earned the most postseason appearances (28, which includes another league record of 54 postseason games, winning 32 of them), the most appearances in the NFC Championship Game (14), and the most Super Bowl appearances (8), two more than any other NFL team. The Cowboys also played in 2 NFL championship games before the NFL's 1970 merger with the American Football League. The Cowboys became the first team in NFL history to win 3 Super Bowls in just 4 years (a feat that has been matched only once since, by the New England Patriots). They are also tied with the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers for having the most Super Bowl wins (5).

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 11:12 AM

pATRICK, yeah, you're lucky you get to root for a team that's actually going to win! It's embarrassing being a 'Skins fan. I'm sure you Cubs fan(s) out there feel me.

Posted by: Meesh | August 3, 2007 11:28 AM

I finally (for the most part)let the dressing of the kids go. I used to put away their laundry in matching sets. Even so, when he was doing it, my husband never seemed to be able to dress them in matching attire. Now that he's the one getting them ready most of the time and the 5-yr-old is usually dressing herself, I let it be... and I don't waste my time bothering to match things up in the drawer. If anyone out in the world finds the kids attire ... interesting, I just hope they won't say "how could their mother let them go out looking like that?"

Posted by: rockvillemom | August 3, 2007 11:34 AM

my boy is easy, shorts and a tshirt. My daughter is another story. I think her outfits are fun and should be enjoyed, sometimes though I think my wife views them as a reflection on her. I guess Leslie does have a point.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 11:38 AM

Does anyone out there admit to ironing their kids clothes?

My mother-in-law once bought a great 100% cotton Hawaiian shirt for our son and casually mentioned, "It will just take a few minutes to iron it." I nearly spit out my Slimfast. I can't even iron my own clothes much less my kids.

But I do know some moms who somehow find the time to do so. Anyone?

Posted by: leslie4 | August 3, 2007 11:39 AM

LOL, Leslie. My children do not know what an iron is for. If it's not wash and wear or dry clean only, it doesn't get bought. My daughter saw a play iron at a friend's house and was using it to stamp on pretend bugs.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 3, 2007 11:44 AM

Leslie, I'm not a mom, but yes I iron my kids' clothes when necessary. There are only a few items that have to be ironed; typically the girls' fancy dresses, but if they need it and I'm ironing my own clothes too, it's only a minute.

(And yes DW irons too; it's usually a matter of who gets to it first. It's a great excuse to watch sports on TV - just set everything up in the den and watch the game. If I play my cards right I can get a whole football game out of a week's worth of clothes.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 3, 2007 11:47 AM

"My mother-in-law once bought a great 100% cotton Hawaiian shirt for our son and casually mentioned, "It will just take a few minutes to iron it." I nearly spit out my Slimfast."

Leslie, I don't know which I find funnier, the idea of ironing my son's clothing or drinking slimfast ;). Suffice it to say neither would even cross my mind if it weren't for this blog! And I have a real thing for the hawaiian shirts, although now that he is dressing himself they are going by the wayside as he can't manage such small buttons yet, sigh...

Posted by: LizaBean | August 3, 2007 11:48 AM

Meesh, wait until the Redskins go 20 years in a row without a winning season like the Saints did before moaning about them. I'm just wondering how many Redskins "fans" would still be so loyal if that happened.

And yes I'm a Cubs fan too; I became one at Purdue because they were (almost) the closest team and the fit so well with the Saints!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 3, 2007 11:49 AM

But I do know some moms who somehow find the time to do so. Anyone?

Posted by: leslie | August 3, 2007 11:39 AM

Well for church clothes my wife sends those to the cleaners. Everyday clothes, iron them? Now THAT is funny! Then when punch is spilled on them or they drop ice cream, jump up and iron another? That's rich!

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 11:49 AM

Meesh -- see, I knew I liked you for a reason. Football sure makes dating interesting, though -- I'm a Skins fan, and DH is a Giants fan, so there are certain games that we need to watch in different rooms. The only reason we survived is because we both hate Dallas (ABD, baby, ABD). Well, that and the fact that both of our teams appear to suck just about equally. :-)

Posted by: laura33 | August 3, 2007 12:11 PM

Irons are used for clothes? Around my house, an iron is used for fusing Perler bead creations!

Did your kid care that it was wrinkled? I doubt it.

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 3, 2007 12:12 PM

Don't have many hassles with my boys dressing themselves. Older son, 15, mostly wears blue or black, and younger son, 10, loves everything green so there's little risk of clashing colors.

My mother's solution to clothes she thought were not appropriate for me or my sisters - it "disappeared" when it went into the laundry and was never seen again.

Posted by: sue | August 3, 2007 12:16 PM

My mother's solution to clothes she thought were not appropriate for me or my sisters - it "disappeared" when it went into the laundry and was never seen again.

Posted by: sue | August 3, 2007 12:16 PM

What about when you did your own laundry and/or bought it with your own money? Did you go toe-to-toe with her, or was it simply never an issue (your tastes were acceptable to her by then)?

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 3, 2007 12:25 PM

I love the idea of kids dressing themselves--one less thing for overworked parents to do, plus it teaches them responsibility and gives them a head-start on how to dress appropriately for certain settings. But be careful--last thing you need is for your ten-year-old to wear stretchy pants that say "sexy b!tch" across the bum. Yeah, draw attention to a pre-teen child's behind. That's not asking for trouble or anything.

Posted by: Monagatuna | August 3, 2007 12:34 PM

Okay so I can link football to today's topic.

I bought a green and black Jets outfit for my son last football season (Winter). The trouble is, I couldn't really tell it was shorts and a tee shirt. When they arrived they were heavyweight cotton, and I managed to convince my wife that it was ok to take the 18-month-old to school in the dead of winter in a shorts and tee shirt on Mondays after a Jets win. (He was in the car almost the whole time anyway!!)

I may be a bad father but I am a very good football fan.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 3, 2007 12:36 PM

I view the issue of stretchy pants that say "sexy b!tch" across the bum the same way as I view junk food. If I don't buy it and bring it into my home, I don't eat it. Exercise the control at the store and then whatever they pull out of their drawer will at least be decent.

Posted by: kk | August 3, 2007 12:38 PM

for your ten-year-old to wear stretchy pants that say "sexy b!tch" across the bum

Ugg, no kidding, i saw a 10-12 year old girl with YUMMY stretched across her butt on her shorts. What kind of parent lets a 10-12 yr old girl wear "yummy" on her butt?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 3, 2007 12:39 PM

Laura, I totally understand. My husband is a Raven's fan. Our biggest problem is deciding which game to watch when they're both playing at the same time. At home, one dog wears the Raven's jersey and one wears the Skins jersey. That way we get to blame the dog instead of the team when our team loses. Which is often.

I don't iron. My husband does sometimes because he lets his laundry sit in the dryer for days at a time.

Posted by: Meesh | August 3, 2007 12:40 PM

Iron kids' clothes? You must be joking. I only use an iron on my own clothes maybe once a year. I'd rather just get the clothes out of the dryer promptly enough that things aren't very wrinkled. My daughter has received a few dry clean only fancy dresses. I'm not sure what the giver was thinking, especially since they have a girl about the same age.

Posted by: rockvillemom | August 3, 2007 12:49 PM

Leslie -- What is it with mothers-in-law and irons, LOL. Mine seemed to have a standing policy of purchasing only items that needed extensive ironing. Even the placemats she bought for our new table came out of the dryer all shriveled in little balls.

MIL has purchased DD several beautiful, fancy dresses that do need to be ironed. I will iron them, but she doesn't get to wear them as often as she'd like both because I am an occasional ironer at best and because there are few occasions in our life that require that degree of formality.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | August 3, 2007 12:55 PM

Today's topic cracks me up...especially since there is back-to-school shopping going on. DD8 goes shopping with me to pick out clothes...I veto on cost or if it's too "Britney". DS6, DS4 & DD2 don't get a choice shopping as of yet...they pretty much don't care. All have one of those 5 slot closet organizers that they put clothes in. They are responsible for putting away their clean clothes (except DD2), refilling their closet cubby, and putting dirty laundry in the appropriate hamper.

My bigger issue is my MIL. She is kind enough to take the kid back-to-school shopping...she takes all the girl grandkids one day and all the boys another day. The girls come home with these leopard print dresses and belly shirts and I don't know what else. She thinks she's being a cool gramma by taking them shopping at Nordie's and letting them choose. The thing is, my SIL & I have to take the majority of it back. I would think after 3 years she'd notice that they NEVER wear what she bought them, but she doesn't. We've tried asking for specific clothing items, but she doesn't listen.

Posted by: jenniferbeall | August 3, 2007 1:02 PM

I wore my Cubs shirt when I was in D.C. last week. But at least they are over 500 currently!

Posted by: Fred | August 3, 2007 1:13 PM

"Lil_Husky, just out of curiosity, why do you think clothes are that important?"

Of all people on this board, I probably care the least about what someone is wearing, or not wearing, even to the point where I don't care if a 300 pound man sports his Speedo at a public beach or pool.

However, I do believe that what a person chooses to wear says something about him or her.

I have one daughter like me who just likes to be comfortable so she goes to school in sweats and a t-shirt. (Great, easy on the budget) Another daughter likes to dress fashionably, though she is fashionably challanged), but it is important for her to be accepted by a peer group that has good appearance standards. (Good for her)

I have a son that had his sister give him a mohawk and temporarily died it bright red, then he shaved it completely bald after a week. As one of the neighbor kids said, "he looks like a badass.", but even my own mother, who normally despises this kind of thing said it fit his smile and dimple so well, it was hard to complain about it.

And I gave up insisting my kids wear shoes to the park over a decade ago when my daughter took them off to go into the sandbox and ended up leaving them there.

But I have to tell you though that I did ban my kids from wearing Heelies to church after my son rolled up to the priest one Sunday to receive communion.

For the most part, I let my kids decide for me what I should wear when I go out with them, if you can believe that. Funny how they insist on rolling down my socks when I wear shorts, or not letting me wear socks with sandles, but going to the mall in my flannel polar bear pajama bottoms and slippers is perfectly OK.

Posted by: Lil_Husky | August 3, 2007 1:14 PM

"That was the season that many of us Saints fans took to going to games as "bagheads". Wear a paper bag over your head, refer to the team as the "Ain'ts", and root for them anyway."

Sounds like a strategy we need to adopt here in Detroit...

Posted by: cjbriggs | August 3, 2007 1:26 PM

Does anyone out there admit to ironing their kids clothes?

My mother-in-law once bought a great 100% cotton Hawaiian shirt for our son and casually mentioned, "It will just take a few minutes to iron it." I nearly spit out my Slimfast. I can't even iron my own clothes much less my kids.

But I do know some moms who somehow find the time to do so. Anyone?

Posted by: leslie | August 3, 2007 11:39 AM

From the bio of Condi Rice:

a neighbour of theirs remembered how she came to their house, and Condi's mom was ironing her tiny lace-rimmed socks. Even then it raised some questions, like "are you crazy?". But mom looked at her neighbour with misty eyes, and said "but I just love her so much!". Period.

Posted by: super | August 3, 2007 1:56 PM

My mother's solution to clothes she thought were not appropriate for me or my sisters - it "disappeared" when it went into the laundry and was never seen again.

Posted by: sue | August 3, 2007 12:16 PM

What about when you did your own laundry and/or bought it with your own money? Did you go toe-to-toe with her, or was it simply never an issue (your tastes were acceptable to her by then)?

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 3, 2007 12:25 PM

Mom was pretty slick about it. She'd do the laundry while we were at school. And she's still never admitted to doing what I accuse her of.

The argument got pretty heated when I was 15 and my purple bikini vanished. My revenge was to get a white one that was every bit as tiny, and wasn't lined, so it was nearly transparent when it was wet. When my green wrap skirt vanished soon afterwards, I did take over washing my own clothes, and stopped putting my clothes into the laundry basket that the whole family used.

Posted by: sue | August 3, 2007 2:23 PM

I think this topic is hilarious. When I see kids (especially toddlers) wearing mismatched clothes, I just laugh-- obviously their parents have their priorities right. And I bet that kid has a fun childhood, too.

ProudPapa15, I'm sure my husband will dress our (not yet existent) kids in unseasonal Jets gear year-round too. By the time our kids grow up I'm sure we'll have Jets jerseys in every size.

Posted by: rnewport | August 3, 2007 2:37 PM

" But I have to tell you though that I did ban my kids from wearing Heelies to church after my son rolled up to the priest one Sunday to receive communion." Lil_Husky

That is the best visual ever!! Those heelies are just one of the most dangerous inventions. My DS - 6 wants a pair so badly, but he lacks the coordination at this time.

No we don't iron children's clothing, I have boys.

Posted by: sailormune | August 3, 2007 3:12 PM

Young girls who wear thong underwear don't concern me. Adults who post to this blog who seem to be knowledgeable about what kind of underewar is worn by anyone other than their own children scare me.

Posted by: baseballguy | August 3, 2007 3:14 PM

Young girls who wear thong underwear don't concern me. Adults who post to this blog who seem to be knowledgeable about what kind of underewar is worn by anyone other than their own children scare me.

Posted by: baseballguy | August 3, 2007 3:14 PM

"From the bio of Condi Rice:

a neighbour of theirs remembered how she came to their house, and Condi's mom was ironing her tiny lace-rimmed socks. Even then it raised some questions, like "are you crazy?". But mom looked at her neighbour with misty eyes, and said "but I just love her so much!". Period."

Well, dang, guess I don't love my kids, then. But at least I'm saving the money from the lace-rimmed socks I don't buy to pay for their therapy later.

Posted by: laura33 | August 3, 2007 3:52 PM

To Laura: I'm relieved to learn that my 8 year old daughter isn't the only one who is so INCREDIBLY picky with her cothing selections. I have gone through exactly the same steps you have with my daughter. After 2 years, I am totally at my wits' end. We are currently down to 3 t-shirts and 3 shorts that she is willing to wear and which still fit, and of course they are wearing out quickly. I shudder at the prospect of back-to-school shopping. Every season I hope she'll become interested in the new styles, but she has a conflicting list of requirements that basically cancel out every style of clothing out there. Have you figured out a way around it? Have you ever simply forced her to pick between outfit A and B, and threaten consequences (take away tv privileges or whatever) if she puts up a fuss? I haven't done that yet, but I have run out of more constructive ideas.

Posted by: fran.metzger | August 3, 2007 3:57 PM

We have had a few mishaps with the kids picking out their own clothes. Our son became obsessed with his sister's tight black ballet pants when he was four. He wore them to preschool a lot. I let him but my husband was not too happy.

Our three year old daughter once wore a multicolored one piece striped bathingsuit (a gift from grandma) along with multicolored striped hannah anderson tights. to daycare in february. it was an incredibly bold outfit. the other parents loved it. she looked like a rainbow blur running by them on her way to show her teachers.

Posted by: leslie4 | August 3, 2007 4:20 PM

Wanted to make sure everyone knows that On Balance is experiencing difficulties for some readers that are using Norton and McAfee pop-up blockers. We hope to have a fix in place in the next several weeks. For now, if you temporarily turn off your pop-up blocker, comments and the comments entry box should be available (though you may need to reload the page).

We realize that asking to turn off pop-up blockers can be a charged subject, but we are working on a solution to be implemented within the next several weeks. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Have a good weekend!

Posted by: leslie4 | August 3, 2007 4:45 PM

Young girls who wear thong underwear don't concern me. Adults who post to this blog who seem to be knowledgeable about what kind of underewar is worn by anyone other than their own children scare me.

Posted by: baseballguy | August 3, 2007 03:14 PM

That's the problem though. Speaking for myself, I don't try to know what kind of underwear others are wearing. But depending on what they're wearing, it can be perfectly obvious. Thong with low rise jeans... bad idea. But, of course, I think the people who go with this combo WANT you to know they're wearing a thong.

Posted by: rockvillemom | August 3, 2007 8:54 PM

Thong with low rise jeans...

AKA "the whale tail".

The things I learn from some of my younger colleagues.

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 3, 2007 11:08 PM

RIP ON BALANCE

from 300-400 posts per day to less than 100. Killed off by boredom and disinterest.

Posted by: anon123 | August 4, 2007 9:07 AM

My daughter is 9 and still has an eccentric eye for clothes. Her latest experiment is to dress in a different color each day. Green, white, pink, brown, red, black, purple, orange ... makes me think she has way to many clothes :-)

Posted by: marta | August 4, 2007 11:23 PM

how about no choice for the child?

a 20 month old decide what to wear? c'mon! i'm from a family where i did not get to choose my own clothes til i was a teenager (afterall, i never had new clothes; they were all hand-me-downs) but i also wasn't allowed to choose dinner, etc. with so many kids, my mom didn't have the luxury to fawn over her youngest child's burgeoning creativity and self-expression. so i had to look presentable, but never like some barbie OR ragamuffin. as a consequence, i never became obsessed with appearance and clothes like some of my firends. perhaps it was a coincidence.

as to my creative expression, i was allowed free-reign outside, or when reading, drawing or writing; it just wasn't my mom's responsibility or problem.

i can't say it hurt me in the long run. reading this post, i know i'm in the minority, but why the heck do we give our kids so many choices?

Posted by: cmbreen | August 5, 2007 5:03 PM

how about no choice for the child?

a 20 month old decide what to wear? c'mon! i'm from a family where i did not get to choose my own clothes til i was a teenager (afterall, i never had new clothes; they were all hand-me-downs) but i also wasn't allowed to choose dinner, etc. with so many kids, my mom didn't have the luxury to fawn over her youngest child's burgeoning creativity and self-expression. so i had to look presentable, but never like some barbie OR ragamuffin. as a consequence, i never became obsessed with appearance and clothes like some of my firends. perhaps it was a coincidence.

as to my creative expression, i was allowed free-reign outside, or when reading, drawing or writing; it just wasn't my mom's responsibility or problem.

i can't say it hurt me in the long run. reading this post, i know i'm in the minority, but why the heck do we give our kids so many choices?

Posted by: cmbreen | August 5, 2007 5:03 PM

My daughter just turned 3. She isn't really interested in choosing her own clothes yet, although she does have a favorite t-shirt that she would wear every day if I'd let her. I usually present two options, though, and let her choose. I hate to feel like I'm the clothes dictator and I like her to express herself a bit.

I haven't read the whole thread but I also dislike clothes for girls that are not "age appropriate". I think it's possible to look really cute and attractive without wearing clothes that are miniature versions of what grown ups wear. I'm not a fan of the really skimpy tops, short skirts, bikinis for toddlers, and so on. (I don't, however, judge those who like these things - my sister-in-law, for example, loves her 2 year old in bikinis - different strokes, ya know?)

That said, I don't really feel like clothing is an "issue" in our lives. At least not yet....

Posted by: viennamom | August 6, 2007 7:46 AM

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