When Your Boy Wants Pink, Sparkly Shoes

Sunday, April 21, 2013

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A lot of parenting dilemmas are complicated with no black or white answers.  Parents have different solutions to the exact same scenario.  And there may not be one answer that works for every child and every family.

One such parenting issue is boys wanting to wear girls clothes.


We went shopping for shoes this weekend.  Our oldest daughter was giddy over the selection of sparkly and pink shoes.  The only problem for her is she wanted them all.

As we continued looking for shoes, our son looked sullen.  I asked him if there was anything wrong.

He muttered that he didn't like the boy shoes.  He wanted pink, sparkly shoes like his big sister.

I knew that my selection of practical brown shoes for him was out of the question.  I started looking for boy shoes with the most bling.  Light up shoes weren't possible since he has several kids in his class with sensory challenges.

I showed him the more flashy boy shoes.

He still looked morose.

He wanted to choose from the girls selection.

And here was the dilemma.  I have no moral objection to boys wearing girls clothes.

We have no rules against our son wearing girl dress up clothes.  Our son has a doll and plays with My Little Ponies. Those things don't bother me at all.

But I was worried about him wearing girls shoes out in public.  There is a real possibility he could get teased or stared at.  I couldn't stand the idea of our sensitive son being made fun of for his choice of shoes.

I decided to be honest with him.  I explained to him that I thought it was okay for boys to wear pink and sparkly shoes, but some people don't think boys should wear those things.

Some people say mean things to boys who wear girls shoes.  There could be children at his school that laugh at him or stare at him for wearing girls shoes.

Did he want to buy girls shoes even though people might be mean to him if he wore them to school?

He made a choice to select boy shoes.  He still wasn't happy about it, but he perked up when he discovered there was a superhero comic book included with his shoes.

I am unsure if I did the right thing.  Part of me wishes I let him choose pink sparkly shoes.

And this is what makes parenting so hard.  Sometimes you aren't sure if you made the right decision when faced with a problem.  There isn't always a right answer.  


Features from Sunday Parenting Party
God Hurt My Feelings by Mercies Raining Down
The Big Decisions by Mums Make Lists
Things I've Learned by Plain Vanilla Mom

Now, it's your turn to share your parenting moments- the good or bad, stories, wisdom, funnies, or photographs at our Sunday Parenting Party linky.  

26 comments:

Stephanie said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

My son is like this. He chose a pink lunch box. We discussed the possible response and he just tells people colours are for everyone. I hate the gender divide in clothes, so limiting for both boys and girls. No easy answers as you say.

The Monko said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

it is so unfair that the manufacturers put us in this position. If they made boys shoes with sparkles and flashes and exciting pictures and colours - or just made more unisex shoes we wouldn't have this dilema. Goblin was the same, wanting to choose from the girls section. But he has very wide feet and none of the shoes he wanted were in his width. In the end we bought him silver sparkly hello kitty baseball boots with pink trim.
Its difficult to know whether to discourage choice because you know they might get a negative reaction, or embrace their choice and deal with the consequences which may be a hurt child. I think you are right Rebekah, there is no right answer.

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Stephanie I think I could have easily gone with a pink lunch box. Though, our son was set on a Spiderman lunch box which he has since lost and now has an extra blue one we had laying around the house. =)

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@The Monko
Our son likes Hello Kitty too. I am not quite sure if he likes those things because he is a brother with three girls and that's what the girls tend towards or he actually has a taste for some typical "girly" things. Either way it doesn't matter to me but sadly it matters to a lot of other people.

Do you have a picture of Goblin in his Hello Kitty boots? I don't think I have noticed him in pink boots in the pictures on your blog.

Your son also goes to a Montessori school, right? I think the type of school makes a difference on how far you can "allow" your child to experiment with style. We go to public school, so while it is mostly positive for us it is just such a big school so there is a greater chance that at least one kid would notice and possible make fun of our son for wearing girl shoes.

And you are right it is horrible how limiting the choices are with clothing for both boys and girls. When my daughter didn't care about her style of shoe, I would choose boy sneakers for her since they were more practical for outdoor play coming in brown colors. Now, she cares and wants all pink and totally unpractical. LOL!

Rose said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Not that you would ever need a random stranger's approval, but I just wanted to say that I would probably do exactly what you did in that situation. You didn't tell your son what to do, and it doesn't seem like you tried to sway him. You just gave him information he would need to make his decision and then let him decide. What better can any of us do for our children?

Lindsey - Seedlings Nursery School said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I just went through this a few weeks ago with my son - I just didn't know what to do. I wish I had thought of explaining it the way you did, but I think he might even be a bit young for that kind of truth yet - he gets offended when strangers don't say hello to him at the store and in parking lots and I don't want to ruin that worldview quite yet. He did, however, pick out a pink camera case and he was with Daddy that day - I was so proud!

Leigh Ann said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I can see how this is so hard, and it's kind of unfair how the other way around, it's applauded. One of my girls is a huge Spiderman/Batman fan, loves trucks, and prefers to pretend that all of her toys are boys. Yet I still hesitate when she says she wants a shirt from the boys' section. I don't know why.

Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Great article. My daughter loves action figures and many time prefers toys that are marketed to boys. We let her get the toys and if she wanted clothes that were in the boys section we would let her get them too. It is a more touchy subject when a boy wants girl toys or clothes. I think you handled it correctly. So difficult still, I agree.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I have this same problem. My son loves pink and purple and all things that shine and sparkle. I mean really, why wouldn't he??? The boy shoes are boring! I wish they would make more colorful boy shoes. Today he picked his horse on the carousel by finding the prettiest, the one with the most jewels. I let him buy some purple keens that are probably for girls, though keens are "unisex". Not even I want to buy the drab brown, green, black "boy" keens. He did pick out some pink shoes when he was younger and I was able to return them without him remembering since he was so young. I felt bad about that. Seriously though, I can't take him shoe shopping.

Garden Tenders said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

My daughter loves cars (and not just the movie) and when Cars 2 came out a while back all the awesome Cars2 clothing was for boys. She got boys shirts. I too wish they made things with "sparkles" for boys and Tow-Mater for girls.

Darlene Nemeth said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I think you did the right thing. Explain the pros and cons for a decision then let your child make an informed decision. It is a part of growing up. The more we do it, the easier it for our kids to be good at decision making.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I think you made a wise decision. I don't see it as just being made fun of. Where does it end? Are you willing to consider makeup for your son if he wants it or a prom dress? I don't blame companies for designing things for girls or for boys. Genders have always been separate. It is society that is changing the rules.

pricklymom said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Rebekah, you handled the situation well...and we all know how it feels. My younger son usually picks a girls jewelry item out of the goody box at the dentist's office, to the chagrin of my husband. He's also very nurturing with his lovies (his "babies"). It's kind of a running joke between my husband and me about Pie's "girly" tendencies (Pie has also always been a good shopping/coffee buddy for me), but I know it bugs my husband deep down. It's so sad that this is an issue, you know?

vogeljoy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

They make boys clothes and shoes so boring. There is never enough colour, imagination or creativity put into it. There really needs to be more design and less boring brown and blue and tire tread and skulls. What about stripes and sparkles and ships and wind and water and whales and waves and ... I wish I could design boys clothes! There is so much that could be done. And for sure adding pinks and oranges and purples... Boys clothes are such a drag it seems. They should also make great vests with sequins and stripes and ships and all sorts of ideas and add funky ties that have colour or neat hats. They don't have to look girly with these things - the boys just want some colour and fun and they don't see it in the boys section. I don't blame him for going for the "girls" shoes - there wasn't anything interesting. I have my girls often in "boys" shoes just because I don't like all the branding that's often on cheaper girls shoes and usually the boys canvas shoes just seem better for their feet. Anyway, maybe someday someone will have more imagination and fun with boys clothes and be able to make them :) -Kimberly

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Rose That's what the internet is for - random strangers giving each other advice. =) And I certainly like your advice, Rose. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Lindsey - Seedlings Nursery School You are right that we have to handle it differently based on the age of our children. A pink camera case is smart. While I am not a fan of pink for myself, I have a bright pink iphone cover because it is easier to find when I lose it. He won't lose his camera with a pink case on it.

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Leigh Ann So true that is is easier to make these decisions for girls. I have dressed my daughter in boys' clothes and shoes without giving it a second thought. I can understand wanting to choose your daughters' clothes from the girls section. There is something sweet and sentimental about a little girl in a "girly" clothes.

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Leigh Ann So true that is is easier to make these decisions for girls. I have dressed my daughter in boys' clothes and shoes without giving it a second thought. I can understand wanting to choose your daughters' clothes from the girls section. There is something sweet and sentimental about a little girl in a "girly" clothes.

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Leigh Ann So true that is is easier to make these decisions for girls. I have dressed my daughter in boys' clothes and shoes without giving it a second thought. I can understand wanting to choose your daughters' clothes from the girls section. There is something sweet and sentimental about a little girl in a "girly" clothes.

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree Thank you, Melissa. I hadn't realized that there was an actual debate still with gendered toys until I met people who felt that way. That is wonderful you are open to her playing with all kinds of toys.

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Anonymous It's so hard to go shoe shopping with kids, isn't it?! I remember my oldest having a huge temper tantrum in the women's shoe section because I wouldn't buy the totally sparkly shoes she had picked out for me for my own two feet. There was no dilemma there because I get to choose what I wear. LOL! But yes, sometimes it is easier to just go shopping without the kiddos. And i think it's okay you returned the pink shoes. A toddler likely wouldn't remember something like that. They are so fickle anyways.

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Garden Tenders How awesome would a Cars girl shirt be! If only...

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Darlene Nemeth I agree that we have to teach our children how to make wise choices. Thank you!

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Anonymous Personally, I am glad there have been changes to society to make certain activities acceptable for both genders. I am not sure where I would stand on those issues because one thing I have learned about parenting is to "never say never". Situations are so different when faced in reality. Thank you so much for sharing and I really do welcome a difference in opinions.

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@pricklymom It is sad. Thankfully, my husband has never shown concern about gender differences. I wonder what he would say about this situation, though. He would probably come from it from a practical thrifty standpoint saying it would be unwise spending money to buy him shoes he is likely to not feel comfortable wearing if he got made fun and he would have just said no right away. LOL! I am very grateful for a husband who is open in this way. He's a keeper!

Rebekah P said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@vogeljoy I agree not much selection with boys' clothes. There's an idea for a new line of clothing for sure! I bet some girls would even like it. Sort of reminds me of Jazz style clothing. I used to choose some clothing and shoes from the boys' section for my oldest because of practicality reasons. The jeans are usually so much better in the boys' section. More durable. Girls pants are not made for rough, outdoor play. I actually don't like the choices in girls' shoes either, but my girls want girly girl shoes so I let them choose style as long as they are practical for playing.

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