Socks, the former "first cat" who has nothing to do with this post.
Remember being a teen?
I remember when I was around eighteen having my ears pierced (for about a week), and a friend’s dad told me that if I was his son, he wouldn’t let me through the door. I’ve never understood that “no child of mine will have purple hair” mentality -- which is why I was a little taken aback when I found myself arguing with my three year old this morning over his desire to wear two socks that didn’t match.
My first thought was, “But what will they think at his daycare? That we get our socks from the Salvation Army? That we neglect our son and leave him to do his own laundry? What if Fashion TV unexpectedly pops in to his preschool?” Fortunately, this was quickly followed up with, “What do I care what anyone thinks about my son’s socks?”
Part of your bounden duty as a teenager was to try and shock your parents—usually in the form of loud music, outrageous clothes, or coloured hair. If you did any of those things, you probably did so mainly because you thought it was cool. But I also think teens do those things to express who they are, or perhaps more accurately at that stage, who they aren’t: namely their parents. There is some testing going on there, too. Teens are hoping for a partial conniption from the parents (shock value) but are ultimately hoping to be accepted for who they are.
My son, though not trying for shock value (sock value?), was surely exercising his independence. The reaction I was having was less a concern about what people would think about him, and more a concern about how people would judge me as a parent.
Generally, dads aren’t overly concerned about a matching wardrobe when it comes to dressing a toddler. But we are often the ones who rail when our child comes home with a tongue stud or purple hair. We’ve all had the experience as parents when we hear ourselves uttering things from generations-gone-by and then catch ourselves saying, “Oh my god, I sound like my father.”
Let it go.
If your three year old puts on mismatching socks or your teen comes home with a ring in her nose, look past the exterior to the person within. You can tease them and roll your eyes a little so they still get to enjoy the shock value (or you can tell them you really like it and totally take the wind out of their sails) but then let them know that frankly, you don’t care what they look like on the outside—it’s the person on the inside that you love.