Kim Hudson: Giving kids some independence and control

My daughter wore shorts to school today. Wait — let me make that statement more accurate — my daughter has worn shorts to school every single day since the beginning of the school year.

That’s right, even today. And even the day a few weeks ago when the temperature dropped to 34 degrees.

I see the looks of the teachers at her school when I drop her off in the mornings. They shake their heads and probably think to themselves, “Here she comes in shorts again. What is her mother thinking?” I have to admit, there have been some mornings that I’ve hurried her out of the car, not wanting to feel judged. But then I stop and remind myself why she is wearing shorts and I can’t help but smile a little smile.

We pick our battles as parents, right?

Sometimes it just isn’t worth the argument or energy it takes to get our way. Because sometimes that’s all it really is – a battle over who gets their way. I’m not talking about the big issues that you set as your family rules and values.

I mean the little everyday stuff that causes those tug-of-war moments between parent and child. Like whether or not they wear a coat to school or if they read one or two books before bed. Little decisions that don’t affect the valued traits of honesty, respect, responsibility, caring, trust, etc., that we try so hard to teach our children.

My daughter’s decision to wear shorts to school, even in the bitter cold winter months is nothing new. Her brother did the same thing. I worried about it with him. He’s my oldest child and we were navigating all the roads of parenthood for the first time. I grew up with a mom who made me wear a coat whenever SHE was cold!

And let’s face it, there’s just something about seeing someone in shorts in December that doesn’t look (or feel) quite right. So I argued my point and he argued his and it became a battle between us.

But you know what? My son didn’t catch a cold because he was cold — as the old wives’ tale would have us believe. He was picking out his own clothes in elementary school which gave him a sense of independence and control over his own choices.

As soon as I was able to let go of my “stuff” it wasn’t a battle anymore.

My daughter wears a uniform to school and I know her decision to wear shorts comes partly from her desire to control what she wears. I learned from my experience with my son that there are so many more important issues to tackle than shorts in the winter.

Plus I think children learn best from life circumstances. If my daughter gets cold at school she’ll learn to dress warmer.

Knowing that middle school is right around the corner I am thrilled that our only wardrobe disagreement at the moment is shorts vs. pants. Giving my daughter a little bit of independence and control over this is hopefully helping her make better choices on her own.

And I have learned that just because I am cold (I love you Mom) does not mean that she is.

Contact Kim Hudson at tkhudson@comcast.net.

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