The Way We Talk to Kids

Today I need to talk about something that has nothing to do with me right now… but someday it will.

I feel so, so passionately about the way we speak to children. I think that our words make an incredible impact on the way they see themselves. If I’m ever blessed with a daughter I know that feminine compliments include words like beautiful, adorable, and cute.  I’m ok with these (and if she looks anything like my hubby then she will definitely be a cutie), but I need a few more words in her vocabulary. I want her to see herself as smart and adventurous and brave and determined. I want my kids to see”unique” as a positive trait. If I ever have a son I want him to know that “emotional” and “kind” are WONDERFUL things to be.

I got an email last week from a baby clothing store and this was part of the ad:

Baby Clothes

Typically I just scroll past these clothes (since my favorite Baby Elliot is only in 9mn outfits), but I found myself stuck on this ad.

Why, why, why do the boys’ shirts say brave, explorer, extraordinary and the girls say NOTHING? Girls get to pick between flowers or lace. Whhhhhhhhy?!

I am a feminist, but this is not a feminist post. This is my future mom-self thinking how much I LOVE that yellow/tan shirt and how I’d buy it for a daughter, but I would never put her in that floral jumpsuit thing-y. It’s a cute romper, but I want my daughter to have a choice between t-shirt or blouse, skirt or cargo shorts… This ad doesn’t give her a choice.

(I know that this ad is directed at parents, not kids, but come on… Not ONE adventurous shirt for the ladies.)

Let it be known right now: If I am ever pregnant with a daughter feel free to buy her whatever outfits you’d like, but please don’t shy away from blues, greens, and boy-associated ensembles. (I mean, if it says “Daddy & Son” probably leave it on the rack, but I’m good with trucks and bugs.)

Ok… on to the next point.

I’ve mentioned it before (like during the holidays), but I have a part time job at a kids’ clothing store. (No, it’s not the same one that sent me the email.) I took a few months off-ish, but I really like working there so I’m back to floor sales now.

While I was working last week a mom and daughter- maybe 10 or 12 years old- came in to browse. The mother was very put together and stylish, but the daughter was a typical kid: messy rained-on hair, athletic shorts, and a colorful tank top. I noticed that the daughter’s hair was just past her shoulders and curled into little spirals at the bottom. Yes, it was a little frizzy from the Ohio humidity, but that’s the nature of curly hair.

I asked the little girl if her hair was naturally curly. She said yes and her mother rolled her eyes. I said I thought it was very pretty- she’s very lucky to have curly hair like that. Her mother, with a look of disgust, replied, “No, she’s not. It’s a pain.” The little girl thanked me and quietly followed her mom to another corner of the store. All I could do was stand there and glare at the back of the mother’s head.

Why, why, why would you tell your impressionable child that her hair is “not good”?? She will go her entire life looking at magazines and television commercials of skinny, beautiful models with smooth, straight, flowy hair. As one curly-headed girl to another, let her have my compliment! (It took me +15 years to figure out how to manage my frizzy hair… now I love it.)

I know that 90% of the time it’s unintentional, but kids soak it up at least 90 % of the time.

Am I just being touchy or does that ad rub you the wrong way, too? Are you intentional in what you say to kids?

-Louise