Be a Parent Not a Buddy

I'm not sure when it happened or how it happened but somewhere along the way our society has forgotten how to ask the basic questions.  We no longer look for the source of problems in government but instead band-aid problem after problem with more government even when it's government that created the problem in the first place.

I read a story today that was like that.  It talked about a child who was being picked on at school and the lengths the dad took to help make his son feel better.  The story can be read in full HERE.

Here are the highlights:

The German dad has become a role model not only for his son, but for parents around the world, after a photograph of the pair holding hands in red skirts, spread across the internet.
"Yes, I'm one of those dads, that tries to raise their children equal," he explained in an essay published alongside the photo in Emma, a German feminist magazine.

Pickert never minded that his son liked dressing in little girl's clothes, but when his family moved from West Berlin to a small southern town in Germany, he learned that other people did. In fact, it became a "town wide issue," according to Pickert, whose essay was translated by Tumblr user steegeschnoeber.

A new school didn't make life any easier or his young son. Shortly after his first day, he stopped reveling in his own tastes and Pickert worried about the damage it could wreak on his self-confidence.
"I didn't want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts," Pickert explained. "He didn't make friends doing that in Berlin… so after a lot of contemplation I had only one option left: To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself."

Ok, I get the whole thing about protecting kids who are different from being picked on.

People are picked on for deformities, odd habits that they may or may not be able to control (like stuttering for instance) or even the color of their skin.

I taught my children early on that sometimes excluding someone because they are different could mean missing out on something great and being the huge baseball fan I am, I used baseball as the example.

Baseball excluded blacks for much of it's early history but eventually the color barrier was broken down and as a result we saw some of the greatest players in the game.  Reggie Jackson, Ozzy Smith, Rickey Henderson and Willie Mays just to name a few off the top of my head.  Who else would we have seen make it to the hall in Cooperstown had we not bared them from the game?

Both my son and I have read the letters hanging in the Hall of Fame of death threats against Jackie Robinson for being the first black player and then against Willie Mays for breaking the Babe's record.  We both have had discussions of how much better Jackie might have even been had he been tried equally and not had to deal with the added stress of hatred against him from not only fans but other players and was able instead to focus fully on playing the game.

So I get the point of this article.  The dad is trying to make his son feel better for being picked on for being different.

But here's the obvious question, why isn't the dad actually being a parent instead of a "buddy" (as he describes it in the article) and tell his child what to wear?  And who introduced this child to dresses in the first place?  Based on the wording in the article it sounds as if this wasn't a recent choice for him to pick out dresses.

If you introduce unusual behavior to your child you are the one creating the problem, not the child.

If this child came to their parent with a leather thong and a shirt that says "Porn Star" would he buy it for them and walk along with his son with a ball gag in his mouth to make the child feel better when people question the outfit?

There are times and places to be a "buddy" to your children then there are times and places to be the parent and tell the child no.

If a five year old walks into a clothing store, you as the parent are expected to "guide" that child toward the clothing that is appropriate.  My wife and I for instance do no like "character" clothing so when one of our kids begin looking at spiderman or barbie outfits we as parents say no and show them outfits we approve.  They still get to pick what they like from cloths we approve and they come out just as happy.

If there is a character they feel very strongly about and really want something with them on it we accommodate by letting them have character pajamas.

Both of my children have found other ways to express their creativity and individuality in how they look but at the same time instead of people looking at them and expressing how odd they look, they instead express how well put together they look.

Walking around in a dress because a five year old wants to wear a dress is not helping anyone.  It doesn't help the child and it certainly doesn't help you as a parent.

I'd be interested in hearing what others thing.