I Don’t Want the World to Crush My Confident Daughter

My daughter is five, and even though she started off strong-willed and confident, every day she grows more independent. 

That independence and confidence have been showing themselves lately in her clothing choices. Gone are the days where I could stick her in whatever outfit I wanted to – she has definitely been getting choosier about her style. 

Every morning I open her closet, pull out an outfit that I love, and say, “don’t you want to wear this, honey?” I get an eye roll and a “Mom, no! I want to wear this instead!” as she puts on zebra leggings paired with a neon unicorn shirt. Other favorite options have been fluffy spring dresses with a long sleeve shirt over the top, or a flowery tee paired with an equally flowery skirt because “they MATCH! Both have flowers!”

When she comes to the breakfast table wearing her funky outfits, beaming with pride, I usually lean over to my husband and ask, “Should I ask her to change? Is it really okay if she wears that?”

My husband always replies with something like, “Uh, YEAH. She dressed herself, didn’t she?” He loves her self-confidence and self-sufficiency. 

confidenceThese clothing choices bug me. I wish she would just wear what I pick out. The more I think about it, though, I get perplexed – why does it bother me? She is clothed, right? The clothes aren’t revealing or inappropriate. She is happy. What is the problem? 

It turns out – the issue centers around my own insecurities, not her confidence.

I spent a ton of time and energy as a child trying to fit in. I always thought if I had the right clothes or looked the right way, other people would accept me. I would change everything about myself just to get a friend to like me.

I was the opposite of self-confident as I mentally beat myself up over grades, my looks, athletic ability, and on and on. It was exhausting! I don’t want my daughter to grow up with the same critic in her head.

Over many years I am thankful to say that, as a grown woman, I am over a lot of these hang-ups. I wear what I want, trendy or not {and as a mom of three, let’s be honest – it’s mostly comfortable, stretchy, and black to hide inevitable kid-related stains}. I like what like instead of what other people tell me to like. I’m proud of my personality and I am comfortable and confident in my own skin. It took until my thirties, but I finally can say I exist day-to-day with a modicum of confidence. 

However – seeing my daughter being her confident, zebra-legging-wearing self so purely triggers something in my heart: I start getting scared for her. I remember how much pain I went through when I was not much older than her and want desperately to spare her from being teased, of not being accepted. She is so authentic, it’s frightening. I don’t want the world to squash that out of her.

confidenceI also selfishly get a little nervous for myself. I start to let the old anxieties and fears creep in and worry if other people will look down on my parenting ability if I let my daughter go to school in unpopular clothes. 

It is so hard to be a mother in so many ways, and I struggle in this area of emerging independence. My gut instinct is always to protect – and therefore, control –  my children. It feels so unsafe to let my three greatest treasures make their own choices in a world that I worry will crush them. 

But – are my daughter’s confident wacky color combinations hurting anyone? Are they harmful? No. You know what would be more harmful? If I repeated the past and let all the voices that hurt me so long ago reach through the years and hurt her. That would be worse. 

Even if my daughter’s clothing choices make me squirm a little, I’ve been trying to take a deep breath when she dons a crazy outfit and remind myself, “Those clothes are not about you. They are her choice, and that is good!” 

My encouragement to you, mamas? Let them wear flowers with flowers. Let them wear the Lightning McQueen shirt for the fourth time in a week. Let them be confident and let them be themselves. It is not about you! Your child is a beautiful human being who, though a major part of your life, is a totally separate human being with their own likes and dislikes. Let’s cultivate their inner confidence instead of their inner critic and watch our kids thrive!

Do you let your child choose what they wear? Why or why not?

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