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Natalie Clauss

About boys wearing dresses

My son will be five years old in the summer. For some time now, he has been very fond of wearing dresses. I would like to report here on the reactions from those around him and my thoughts on this.

First of all, I had to get used to the idea that my son would like to wear a dress. When he first expressed this, he was not yet four years old, if I remember correctly. I was pretty much internally opposed to it. The fears that he would be laughed at and called names were too great. Too big were the phrases like, "Boys don't wear dresses, you don't do that."

What I was never afraid of was that it might have anything to do with "being gay" or anything. I don't care about that. No, mispronounced. I do care, at the same time my son can make his own decisions. Besides, the two have little to do with each other either, despite what some might say.

I had to realize that my own fears prevented him from having his own experiences and acting out on his own. But wait, I thought, I don't want that at all. I can't save him from "mistakes" (and who knows if that's even one), I can only be there for him when he needs me. Letting go step by step. He can make his own decisions. So then after shirking a decision and also successfully refusing to face my own fears, I finally did offer to just put on a top of mine as a dress.

So when he went to kindergarten for the first time wearing his top dress, I was admittedly very nervous. I felt like I couldn't protect him. And that's true. I can't protect him all the time, everywhere. I don't want to. I want my son to eventually be able to make reflective decisions and take responsibility for them himself afterwards. How can he learn that if I don't even let him decide what to wear. You see, this topic has been on my mind quite a bit....

Ein Kind in einem Kleid springt fröhlich auf einer Wiese in die Luft.

Anyway, there were relatively few reactions in kindergarten overall. For some kids, it wasn't a big deal at all. They didn't comment at all and didn't even seem to notice. Other children, especially girls said that the dress was very chic. Only one boy commented that yes, he would look like a girl. But my son was not bothered by the statement. He merely said, "So what?" And that was the end of the matter.

In the meantime, my son goes to kindergarten with his dress on a fairly regular basis. Simply because he likes it. He says he dresses up when he goes to kindergarten in tights and a dress. And that's true. Unfortunately, boys often see it differently.

But not much time has passed since girls and women started wearing pants. However, no one would say anything about that anymore. It has become normality. Aren't clothes and colors just for everyone? Why does something so banal have to be assigned to any gender and outdated role models?

As we get older and our children get bigger, sooner or later we deal with the issue of what we would like to give our children for their lives. We think about what we want for our children and which characteristics are important to us. Many parents, including us, then think of tolerance. I want my children to be open, tolerant and respectful of other people, animals and nature. I wish that they do not see differences as negative, but as an opportunity to learn and grow.

But how can I learn and show tolerance if my son is not allowed to wear what he wants? How can he learn tolerance if I judge him for what he wants?

So the children's reactions to wearing the dress were just one thing. There I had to realize that in many ways children are much more open and unprejudiced than we adults are. For example, one boy said that he thought my son's pink unicorn costume was totally cool for carnival. The teachers and parents were quite different. From the side came statements like "If he feels attracted to the opposite sex, there's nothing you can do about it anyway" or "Oh, he wanted to dress up again?" or even "Why is he wearing a dress? He's a boy.".

Ein Mädchen in einem rosa Einhornkostüm.

I find that quite exhausting. My son, on the other hand, doesn't seem to mind at all. I think I can learn a lot from him!

Regarding the statements: What does putting on a dress have to do with being attracted to the opposite sex? No, he doesn't dress up as a girl. He just likes to put on a dress. And yes, boys can wear dresses too. It bugs me. It really does. I try not to let it get to me. To just ignore it. But I can't. It wears me down how much judging goes on. Just on something as mundane as choosing what to wear.

I wanted to protect my son and take a decision away from him. Now I'm glad I didn't at some point. I'm glad he can have his very own experience. Yes, it was mostly positive reactions. If he had had difficulties or was not doing well, of course I would be there for him and support him as much as he wished. I am happy that I was able to put aside my fears that were limiting him. This process showed me once again what a strong child I have after all and I was able to learn a lot from it.

By the way, the same goes for long hair, braids and jewelry. Actually, it applies to everything that is supposedly attributed to any gender or role models.

Image sources:

The cover image comes from

Image 1 (child in meadow) in the article comes from

Image 2 (child in unicorn costume) in the article comes from

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