Child rearing requires much prayer for parents. Our upbringing, society, marital status and a little bit of our own objectives will dictate our parenting methods. But we really have to examine the rationale behind some of the decisions that we make on behalf of our children.
For the recent Halloween a mother’s decision to allow her 5 year son to dress as a female cartoon character has created a fuss among blog readers. The mom indicated that her son wanted to dress up as “Daphne” from the Scooby-Doo animated series for a pre-school Halloween party. She didn’t see any problem with the request, so she permitted it. At the gathering she noticed that not one child heckled or harassed her son’s costume choice, but it was some of the other parents who had displayed their obvious disapproval by gawking and shaking theirs head with disgust. That led the mom to start a blog to get the opinions of adults. The blog has since had millions of hits with thousands of mixed comments from around the world.
I was a single parent of a boy and girl that are 22 months apart in age. My son was the elder and when they were ages 4 and 2 respectively, keeping balance in their lives was a responsibility that I met head on. I was certainly not a perfect parent by any means, and having a demanding professional career and raising a two very young children was no cake walk. Making the commitment to ‘leave work at work’ was the mandate that I put into place whether the boss liked it or not.
To keep balance I had to let my son be a boy and my daughter be a girl, meaning I played with them on a regular basis – in their world. I clanged and tossed action figures with my son, and combed doll hair, changed doll clothes and played doll house with my daughter. We had a ball together – just the three of us. In fact, at times I played with my daughter more, trying to ensure that she wasn’t denied being a girl at home with a father and brother. But I noticed that over time my son was really getting into handling his little sister’s dolls. Combing hair, changing clothes – he pretty much took over her collection. I became a little disturbed and one day I finally decided to enforce some male authority. I scolded my 4 year old son by saying “don’t let me see you playing with your sister’s doll again…” He heeded my command, stopped playing with the dolls and that was the end of it. So I thought.
Now, whether you, the reader are a Christian or not, I am, and I do believe in the power of God’s Spirit. I remember the day, some 16 years ago as if it were yesterday. It was a bright and sunny Tuesday morning as I dropped the kid’s off at preschool. There were no incidents with the kids that morning nor any peculiar occurrences when I arrived at work. The office that I occupied at the time had windows facing east so I always had to adjust the blinds to alter the glare of the bright morning sun. As I logged in to the computer, suddenly, a tap on my spirit’s door got my undivided attention. I was told “the reason your son seems to favor those dolls is because he is trying to imitate you.” My heart softened like a sponge and I absorbed all that God had to say to me that morning. The words were very clear and of course, true.
Humbled, I vowed that when I picked up my son later that evening that I would hug that baby, kiss that baby and say that I’m sorry for demanding that he not play with his sister’s dolls, and that I realize he was doing what he saw daddy doing, and that he could play with them as much as he wanted to as long as she allowed him to. He was 4 years old, but he was still my baby boy. That evening there was time for the three of us to play and bond like usual. My son grew to be a healthy little boy, reeking havoc on his sister and teachers, a superb athlete and very in tune with his surroundings. He is now 20 and married with a baby girl of his own.
With all of that said, would I have permitted my son to dress up as a girl for Halloween then or at any other time before the age of 15? No. By age 15, I would be able to form a somewhat clear judgment of his personality, tendencies and his reasoning. At age 5, you don’t really know if they’re imitating you or developing a life-long characteristic. I am not a journalist, therefore I can share my opinion. As mentioned earlier, no parent is perfect, and even when your child is grown you can look back and question some of the decisions you made.
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