Because of problematic dress codes often found in schools, many parents have chosen to be as supportive of their children’s clothing choices as possible.
But unfortunately, sometimes it backfires, according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Rushed to get to work, Redditor RogueMisanthrope allowed his second-grade son to wear one of his twin’s sister’s dresses to school after he proclaimed that he wanted to wear it.
But after his wife criticized him for setting up their son for failure, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he had made the wrong decision.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for sending my son to school in a dress?”
The OP decided to be supportive of his young son’s clothing choices.
“My son started second grade last week. I get the kids ready for school while my wife sleeps (she’s got a graveyard shift).”
“He’s got a twin sister. I told them both it was time to get ready for school and his twin sister pulled a bunch of dresses out of her closet.”
“My son picked one up and said, ‘I want to wear this.'”
“I’m thinking, ‘Whatever dude, we’re running late. Just put some kind of clothes on, and let’s get out the door.'”
“I’m pretty politically neutral so while I wouldn’t say I was particularly happy he wanted to wear a dress, it also wasn’t nearly as upsetting to me as the idea that I could be late for work if we didn’t get out the door.”
“I figured ok, I wouldn’t ever tell my daughter not to do something because it wasn’t ladylike so I shouldn’t tell my son not to do something because it isn’t manly.”
Unfortunately, the OP’s support backfired.
“I dropped him off and got to work.”
“Three hours later, we got a call to come to pick up our son because his outfit was distracting to the other kids and he was being bullied.”
“He was very sad when my wife got there and the whole morning had been upsetting for him.”
The OP’s wife was incredibly upset with him.
“My wife is irate, asking how I couldn’t have realized that was inappropriate and that I was setting our son up to fail. So is just about everyone else I’ve run this by.”
“My wife thinks damage has been permanently done because he’ll be in the same school system as these kids for the rest of his life and he’ll be known as ‘the one who wore a dress.'”
“She said I was being thoughtless or willfully ignorant because I was in a rush and our son suffered for it.”
“At the time, I truly didn’t think it was that big a deal, but that doesn’t change that I put my son in harm’s way.”
“Now I’m not sure whether I made the wrong decision or not or how to feel about it.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
One Redditor was grateful to the OP for teaching his son that he doesn’t have to be “manly.”
“NTA what a refreshing take on parenthood. It seems today so many people are set on telling women they can be anything but men still have to be men and act traditionally manly.”
“You did what your son asked and I think that makes you a pretty great parent. Good on you OP!” – catchingnightmares
But others were worried about the OP knowingly setting up his son for bullying.
“As a parent of kids who are victims of constant bullying, we’re having to talk our kids out of decisions their young minds find acceptable, but that makes them targets for bullies. I’d much rather keep my kids safe than have to pick them up from school for the umpteenth time because we allowed them to express themselves in ways that attracted scorn.”
“The world is cruel. My kids are not, and one day they’ll be tougher and will either laugh it off and/or be influencers and/or decide it’s not worth it. Until then, I’d rather wear the badge of YTA and face a grumpy child who couldn’t wear the dinosaur onesie on a casual day, than a child who cries over the bully who targeted him again. True story.”
“Our kids have faced relentless bullying to the point where they didn’t want to attend school and pretended to be sick. All because we 100% supported their individuality.”
“Schools are limited in what they can/will do about bullying, even though we were ‘those parents’ who would upturn the administration because the extent of bullying escalated.”
“While we strengthen our kids emotionally and spiritually at home and now teach them the world is not a perpetually kind place, our priority now is our kids’ safety first.” – Desperate_Anonymous
“YTA. Massively. Everyone saying otherwise is entirely divorced from reality. It doesn’t matter if you don’t care about him being traditionally manly or whatever. What matters is the reality of society, and anyone with half a brain would realize he would be ridiculed and bullied as a result of the dress.”
“Your wife is completely correct on everything she said, including in all likelihood the permanent damage to his reputation. I was seen eating a booger in kindergarten and that followed me into high school, and that’s not nearly as bad as wearing a dress.”
“On a related note, you should consider enrolling him in martial arts for self-defense. The best thing my parents ever did for me, though they waited FAR too long (6th grade) to do so.” – babno
“YTA… Like what did you think was going to happen? Clearly you weren’t thinking.”
“If you son was 12 and wanted to wear a dress then go ahead and be supportive, but as a little kid he doesn’t get it and your job as a parent is to protect your kids from what they don’t know/understand at that age.”
“Kids are cruel and you’ve set him up to be bullied. Your wife is right to be p**sed.” – TheDrabLooker
Some thought the school needed to do a better job of protecting students against bullies.
“I hope you’re not saying that same stuff to disabled kids that have no way to hide their disabilities or really fight back against bullies.”
“I have scars all over my arms and legs because ignoring, moving away, and trying to defend myself meant nothing when I needed to use walking aids and eventually wheelchairs to move around due to a then-undiagnosed genetic collagen disorder that was making my joints fall apart.”
“What should I have done when I had been thrown from my wheelchair onto the ground only to be held down by three kids and had SCREWS pushed into my flesh? All for being a “useless cripple”. I can’t just hide my entire physical BODY and phase into a different plane of existence! I was 7 years old and getting physically tortured like that in plain sight of teachers/monitors!”
“The school did NOTHING even with my parents trying to intervene so I had to leave that school and try my luck at a new one. I wish we had the money to sue, it would have helped with the medical bills caused by injuries sustained from the physical beatdown bullying!”
“I’m going to have those scars (raised scars even, because I can’t heal well) and injuries caused by them for the rest of my life.”
“Bullies NEED to be held accountable, no matter if adults or children.” – Khirsah01
“Seriously, I was bullied as a kid too and all the stuff my parents did to stop it was useless because no one actually did anything to stop the bullies.”
“Saying I just needed to try and fit in more, or stuff like, ‘Stop being weird! You’re making yourself a target!’ is victim blaming pure and simple. We shouldn’t limit our kids because otherwise they’ll be bullied, we should make it so they don’t have to worry about being bullied!”
“If that means telling kids to just punch the f**kers if they won’t stop, or you know, HAVE TEACHERS ACTUALLY DO THEIR F**KING JOBS, then let’s do it, and not just blame the weird kid! Also for the people who are going to tell me that being a teacher is hard and they can’t cover everything.”
“No s**t! I worked as a teacher’s assistant. I know how hard the work can be, but there are PLENTY of teachers who just don’t give a s**t and don’t do a thing to help the kids being bullied!”
“Yeah, teachers can’t do everything, but they can do more! And the ones doing everything they can are saints in the industry. I know personally how a teacher who gives a s**t can greatly reduce bullying, and how a teacher who doesn’t give a s**t can it make things unbearable. I’ve lived through both scenarios.” – jcarules
“As someone who was bullied as a child, I don’t think I was ‘building strength.’ I was ostracized and it stunted me developmentally. I didn’t start to build courage until my late 20s, so I wouldn’t say it gave me a leg up.”
“I was an individual and had some weird/ugly traits now that I look back and wish my parents had guided me towards grooming and wardrobe choices that helped me fit in.”
“I’d rather stand out because of my interesting personality than my weird clothes. This still applies in adulthood.” – MissPandora
While one Redditor was grateful the OP was challenging what it meant to be “manly,” the rest of the subReddit agreed with the OP’s wife and that the OP made a hasty decision while trying to get to work on time.
Though it’s perfectly reasonable to support children in what they want to wear, younger children still need some guidance, so they can optimally succeed in the classroom and in life.