Written by Doctor G

Do I HAVE to get dressed up?

With Passover and Easter still in the air, I ask – did you have any wear-this-or-else arguments at your house?  This is definitely one of the times of the year that we force our kids into dress clothes.  And, as the mother of boys, I can say it is often a struggle.

I don’t pay a lot of attention to the “But whhhhyyyyyyyy?” stall tactic, but I did give it some thought this week.  Does it matter how kids dress?  I believe it does.  Clothes guide expectations and behavior.

Don’t get me wrong, my boys can be little heathens in a dress shirt and pants as easily as they can in play clothes.  But it takes a little longer to get there.  What they wear reminds them where they are and how they are meant to behave there.

School uniform, team jersey, Halloween costume, bathing suit – clothes remind us of our purpose in that moment.

When my kids argue about dressing up, what they are really saying is “Why are we going someplace that I have to be quiet the whole time?”  Which usually isn’t true and they never are anyway.  But their clothes serve as a constant, nonverbal reminder of our expectations in a certain setting.

Even better, clothes can give our kids a little wiggle room from other adults.  Think about it.  Ever seen a kid walk into a religious service, really sloppily dressed?  On some level you would not be surprised at poor behavior from her or him.  When our kids take the time (or we do) to dress nicely, they get a little grace period from adults in the more formal setting.  That child is having trouble with their behavior for a minute, but at least they dressed up for the occasion!  And the subconscious of that grown up gives them a second chance to get it together.

Valuable lessons, and worth the arguments, I think.

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5 thoughts on “Do I HAVE to get dressed up?”

  1. Nice to hear I am not the only one fighting this battle. My kids have cousins who seem like they LOVE to dress up while asking my kids to put on a polo shirt and clean sneakers reminds me of the old saying about Men putting on ties each morning is akin to them putting a noose around their necks….I think it’s good for them to learn that perceptions and appearances DO matter sometimes – even if it’s only to their grandma.

  2. On the other hand – didn’t we take it a little too far on how we dress up (for religious services for example)? Yes cloths might show how we are respectful to the place and moment (and people around) but does the suite really portray our self being, or will a polo shirt (or a dress shirt) fit the needs?
    Actually, looking back at the bible, Adam and Eve did not know they were naked. I am not saying that we should got to religious services in our birth outfits (this might be interesting/disgusting take your pick) but some limits on the extent of how much time we spend buying the cloths we were, the attention we give to others cloths, the money we spend on our cloths etc. should be limited.
    And yes – this was for the adults out there not the kids (although we behave alike in many instances)

  3. I guess it is the differences between girls and boys. I have three girls and I actually have to battle them to wear normal clothes. They would wear dresses, fancy shoes and done up hair everyday if they could. But sometimes I just need to bring them to get groceries ..it’s a little much LOL.

    I do think it is important for kids to learn the because I said so.

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