Dress Up Time

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

Dressing up is role playing

Dressing up is role playing, and kids often try to act like grownups. With this in mind, don't throw out that dress with the oil stain; instead, put it aside for your girls to play dress up. Girls love to pretend they are moms and wives.

Keep a special box or toy chest just for dress up items. There's no need to invest any cash in the items you provide your kids for this type of play. Whenever you think about giving away clothes or throwing a broken umbrella away, think about whether or not your kids might like to have this in their dress up box.

Grandpa's old fishing hat will be considered a treasure

You might save odd stubs of lipstick, or give them that blusher that was never quite the right color for your complexion. Those very high heels give you a blister, but your daughter loves to teeter on them in front of the three way mirror in your bedroom. A boy will love to wear his father's old ties or perhaps that dapper suit jacket his dad has outgrown. Grandpa's old fishing hat will be considered a treasure.

As your kids pretend to be you, you learn how your kids see you. Are you the benevolent, loving mother, or a stern, take charge, methodical mom? You might think your daughter's portrayal of you is too soft or too hard, somehow lacking in balance. You can initiate a conversation with your daughter, stressing the qualities you have that she is somehow not seeing, or perhaps ignoring. You can tell her why you think a woman needs these particular qualities that you admire and try to emulate.

Your boys like to swagger as they imitate their fathers and the other masculine men they know. They deepen their voices and make conversation about politics and money. They buy gifts for their 'wives' and pretend to take them out to dinner.

It's surprising to see how kids try on gender roles. Today, most couples share household chores and often both parents work a job as well as raise their families, yet kids seem to be as sexist as always. I think we don't have to worry that we're missing something important here. It could be the effect of the media, or something more primal. But let's not lose sight of the value of kids playing dress up. Role playing is how they ready themselves for the adults they intend to become.

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