When You Care About Your Daughter’s Appearance More Than You Want To

July 11, 2013 in girls and beauty,Hearts at Home,lessons for moms

Girls with their own sense of style

I know she’s cute. She is at camp so I couldn’t get a more recent photo. Other mom’s mismatched kids are just adorable, I know.

She said she brushed her hair and didn’t want to do it again. Observation made the statement dubious.

“Mooommm! It’s only hair.” She had been playing worm with her sister under piles of blankets. She was wearing green fleece paints with penguins on it–the ones she claims are not  PJ pants.  She wanted to wear them for the world to see. Her top was a green ruffle tee, a green that clashed with the pants and her shoes were black lace up boots. Her appearance made me squirm when I thought of taking her to the store.

I am not a fashion gal. I could be a candidate for one of those fashion makeover shows where they stop an exhausted mom on the street and help her dress better. Still, I found myself embarrassed and apologetic when I took my mismatched daughter places. Do moms of boys struggle with such things? I doubt it.

“She dressed herself,” I whispered to a mom friend I ran into at Target.

I was never going to be a mom who harped on her kids to dress a certain way. If the situation did not require a dress code then surely I could let my kids express themselves.  There are battles worth fighting and most days, if the clothes fit the season and are not easily destroyed by play, I wanted to be  a mom who let her girls dress themselves. Lessons on first impressions could come later.  Life itself would teach her that people respond to the way one dresses.

Secretly though, I envied my sister-in-law whose oldest was still letting her mom pick out her clothes at age 7. I relinquished the right to pick out clothes in exchange for peace somewhere around 2. Many days, I found amusement in their odd outfits, but if life was grating in other areas, I wanted the satisfaction of having my daughter look nice (ugly truth: when life gets tough I try to control the little things).

On such a day, the kind were I needed control , I was arguing with my girl about her clothes.  I was begging her to wear a cute, coordinated outfit when she asked why. “Because the penguin pants embar….”

I heard myself. I remembered the embarrassed apology at Target.  Such words did not belong to the philosophy I preached. Somewhere I had bought into the idea that little girls were better when cute, that coordinated outfits and bows and socks were important. Maybe it’s because no one compliments your girl when she wears fleece penguin pants, but a coordinated Gap outfit equals three compliments from strangers. When had I joined this fashion driven culture? Why was I working against my own desires to teach my girl that the world looks at outside appearances but God look at the heart?

Hoping she didn’t catch my half statement I retracted, ” Actually, honey, if the penguin pants are clean, they are good fall pants, go ahead and wear them. ”

I’ve since learned that style is part of my girls. I should enjoy their unique sense of style. I’ve also learned that style evolves with age. A tomboy doesn’t stay that way forever. Neither does a girly girl. There are times where I set dress codes, like weddings. And some days, I ask, “Do you care if you match today? ” If they answer yes, and sometimes they do, I tell them that generally two different prints don’t go together and that a print and solid would look nicer, more coordinated. Sometimes they shrug; sometimes they change; either way, I never apologize anymore.

I learned these lessons a few years ago. And since then, I’ve found other sneaky areas where my words don’t match my philosophy. And I’ve come to enjoy that my girls express their loves and attitude with fashion (or lack of). One of them is 1.5 years from being a teenager, I’ve heard this will get harder. That’s okay. I think I am ready.

What have you said to your kids that you swore you would never say?

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Belinda July 11, 2013 at 5:50 pm

My girls dress themselves and do their own hair and have an “eclectic” style. I have vetoed some combinations as fashion nonsense but I try to zero in mostly when it’s an issue of modesty. Pony tail every single day? OK (inner sigh). Same outfit every time it’s clean? Alright. Letting my kids wear what they like is good for my pocketbook. ( :


Karla July 11, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Before I had kids I used to worry about them embarrassing me like that. Now, I just think it’s cute. There are times when I make my daughter put pants or shorts under a top or wear something more weather-appropriate, but other than that I let her wear what she wants. It’s neat to see what crazy combinations she comes up with! Anyone who might glance her way and see hearts and stripes and polka dots most likely knows that she dressed herself. 🙂

The things I hate saying over and over are things like, “How many times do I have to tell you…?” Or answering a question with “Because.” There are reasons so many people have said them before us!


pruningprincesses July 12, 2013 at 2:40 am

Karla, some days I could roll with it, some days I was bothered by how bothered I was by their clothing. But I have learned and grown. I do think that sending them to public school for a few years made me more anxious about what they wore because of teasing potential ( we homeschool now). I’ve found the things that I say that I hoped to never say have come out more as the girls get older. I have higher expectations, issues are more emotional (3 females in the house) and complex. I visited your blog and pinned your Italian dressing recipe. Thank you. Glad you stopped by. How did you find my blog?


Karla July 12, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Honestly, I found your blog looking for glitter grapes! I tried a version with purple grapes and two different koolaid powders mixed together but it was way too sweet! May try it again with black grapes (which are more tart) and one kind of koolaid. Kids loved ’em! When I read some of your other posts and saw that you believe in God, I decided to follow you!

Mmm, with two girls now (and one super-rambunctious boy), I wonder how it will go – how I will manage, survive, etc. – as they get older. I’m sure we’ll lock horns on a number of issues. And most days I don’t know how I’ll have the patience to continue homeschooling! One day at a time, one day at a time…


pruningprincesses July 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Awesome. I love that you were looking for glitter grapes. My favorite Jello flavor for glitter grapes is no longer sold around here, I am guessing that might be true elsewhere? I think most stages of parenthood are one day at a time. And truthfully, I think most homeschool moms (myself included) are just a bit crazy!


Tracie July 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm

As long as the choices are modest, I’m pretty okay with any crazy outfits my daughter wants to put together.


Laurie July 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm

What have I said to my kids that I wish I wouldn’t have? Too much for a comment section. I have two boys and one girl (all grown now) and yes, mother’s with boys DO care too. It’s a reflection of our mothering, right? 🙂 I applaud you for choosing your battles, letting your girls express themselves by they way they dress (except for those dress code occasions). They are blessed with such a mother.


pruningprincesses July 13, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Oh Laurie, thank you for such an encouraging comment. Clearly your kids were blessed too.


Laurie July 13, 2013 at 1:01 pm

BTW, visiting from SITS, now following on Twitter and FB! Have a great weekend~


Jennice July 14, 2013 at 12:07 am

My 5yo is a complete girly girl! She hates pants and prefers to,wear dresses/skirts her ,all year rounId. Her grandmother wears skirts and dresses all,year rohnd for religious reasons but I prefer for her to wear pants in the winter because NY winters are really harsh. I still pick out her outfits and buy the clothes I think will look best on her. In the summer,however, I do buy her moatly dresses and skirts to show her I,do respect her request to wear what makes her feel comfortable and pretty. #SITSsharefest


pruningprincesses July 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

HI Jennice,
Both of my girls were girly girls for a long time. One of them refused pants for years. Now they are both into sports and only wear athletic clothing (9 and 11 now). Also, I can no longer buy clothes. I never pick the right style or size. I let my girls wear whatever but I am surprised by how much I sometimes want to change it like, “Dear, Nike is lovely, but maybe today you could wear something other than a soccer shirt?” I hold it in. And yes winters are long in Michigan too. When the girls wore skirts and dresses, I found corduroy leggings that we loved!


a happier girl July 14, 2013 at 11:11 pm

My kids dress themselves and have since they were about 2. My 9 year old daughter’s style is sometimes a bit much for me but I love that she’s her own person. As long as what she’s wearing isn’t 2 sizes too small, dirty, or the same thing she’s worn for 5 days straight, I just smile at what she comes up with!


pruningprincesses July 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Good for you at letting her be her own stylist. I do the same thing, now. Still, sometimes I am surprised at how much I want them to wear something that I like. The strength of my own preferences surprises me. I try not to act on them. Thanks for stopping by.


Keri @ Growing in His Glory July 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I have three girls, two of which already challenge me on the clothes they wear. They’re 4 and 2. So, I feel ya! I like what you said about teaching them later in life about the importance of first impressions. Our appearance reflects our identity, including our family. I think it’s never too young to start instilling this idea in our kids, even if some days we let them “win” the battle. My girls have worn cowboy boots and tutus to Target and while I redden with embarrassment, it just wasn’t worth the battle to make them change.

Great thoughts here! Found you at the Hearts at Home link-up.

Keri @ Growing in His Glory


pruningprincesses July 20, 2013 at 3:33 am

Hi Keri, I need to remember to smile kindly at the next girl I see in cowboy boots and tutus. I am sure there will be one! I love connecting with other moms and your comment made me feel connected, like I am not alone in this battle to say the right things. Thank you.


Cheri July 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm

With 2 girls, at ages 5 and 13, I have to remind myself daily to just let go and let them express their styles (modesty is our only rule). I do have to bite my tongue sometimes, but the battle is just not worth it. My mom always gave me the freedom to express myself with hair, makeup, and clothing. Even though we laugh about a lot of my fashion choices, I will always be grateful for the freedom and control I had when I was younger to be my own fashion disaster 🙂


pruningprincesses July 20, 2013 at 3:19 am

Hi Cheri, I hope that my girls will remember me as giving them fashion freedom ( now that I have learned my lesson). And tell your mom she did a great job!


Kim July 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm

My oldest was pretty compliant and really didn’t care about what she wore. Our youngest was a completely different story. She was a fashionista from day 1!
Well before kindergarten she was choosing her own outfits and mixing and matching in, well, creative ways. Anything went! I am sure I whispered those words you did, too. Today, at 25, I rely on this same daughter for excellent fashion advice. Her eye is incredible!


pruningprincesses July 20, 2013 at 3:18 am

Hi Kim! So nice to see you again. I hope that someday I get excellent fashion advice from my girls!


Jackie July 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I have four daughters and I also try to let them express themselves. It doesn’t always work for me, but we are learning as we go, right?

I found you through my first month with the Hearts At Home blog hop. Looking forward to reading more!


pruningprincesses July 20, 2013 at 3:09 am

Jackie, definitely learning as we go. Every day. Hoping to let go of the little things (outfit matching) so I have energy for the bigger ones. We just had friends visit from college last night who had 4 daughters, they were 9,7,5, and 2. That made 6 girls in the house for the night. It was crazy. How old are your girls?


Melanie Davis July 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I too have a child who loves to wear mismatched outfits. She is eight. She likes to dress my 2 year old for me 🙂 I used to be embarrassed. I still am at times. I am sure I have made a sarcastic, hurtful remark at one time or another. I too am mainly concerned if what my child wears is modest. Who cares if it matches. That is not a battle I want to fight anymore. Thank you for sharing how you talk to your girls when their clothes are “embarrassing”. Those are good words to say when teaching them how to match their clothes and appropriate attire for special occasions. I plan to implement them with my own kiddos!



pruningprincesses July 19, 2013 at 11:06 am

Melanie, your comment is the kind that makes me love blogging-aAnother mom who can connect with a struggle in motherhood. We can learn so much from each other. Off to visit you blog! Thanks for taking the time to comment.


Shelly July 19, 2013 at 3:07 am

You are a great writer. I can tell you love it too! Wonderful Post.


pruningprincesses July 19, 2013 at 11:04 am

Thank you, Shelly.


Rachel Beran July 19, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I don’t have girls, but I can relate to this post! It reminded me of how “me” focused I can be, worrying about how my boys make me look rather than thinking about what God is doing in their hearts and mine. Every day is a day to learn and grow together!

What a great post! Thanks for sharing!


pruningprincesses July 20, 2013 at 3:03 am

Rachel, I am so glad you understood the spirit of this post. It really isn’t about outfits, or coordinating, or any of that. It’s about me losing my focus on Christ and trying to control life by controlling the little things that don’t really matter. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


Mary Young January 9, 2014 at 4:37 am

If we were going out, I used to ask my daughter to change her clothes to match. Then one day she came in the living room and said, ” Do I look perfect mommy, like you want me to look?” My heart broke. My actions told her she had to “look perfect”. Ever since then, I just roll with her crazy combinations. I never want her to think she has to “look perfect”.


pruningprincesses January 9, 2014 at 11:05 am

Hi Mary. We learn so many lessons from our kids. Thank you for sharing your story. I definitely relate.


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