Dress to Impress

At what age did you become conscientious at the clothes you wore?

For me, it was probably middle school. I cared about clothes — wanting to look nice — probably as early as kindergarten, but middle school it went to a whole new level. I became concerned about what my clothes said about me — did I come off as cool, lame, trying too hard, not trying hard enough, etc. Add that I wasn’t petite or small by any stretch just compounded the issue.

Thankfully, I have boys, and while all boys are different my sons haven’t had much interest in what others think of their outfits. My oldest can be found most days rain, shine, hot, cold, and anything in between in a hoodie and sports shorts. My youngest likes graphic tees, but only when they highlight his interests.

On the first day of school, my youngest put thought into his outfit. He wasn’t so concerned with his appearance as he was with letting people know he has an interest in transit. He was adorned head to toe in all things metro/subway. He knew it was overkill, but wanted to do it, in hopes others would engage with him on the topic. He came home disappointed. We asked if he got any feedback on his outfit and he said he didn’t. I asked him what he thought others were most concerned about the first day of school. He said, “themselves,” as he sighed and rolled his eyes knowing it was the truth. “Give it more time. You keep wearing it (as he has many pieces to choose from) and people will eventually notice.” He knew that, but was still disappointed. I can understand. You try to get affirmation or acknowledgement from others, and do not always get it. Especially when you are seeking it in a covert way. I reminded him to just be himself. People are getting adjusted to new classes, teachers, and peers, and he’ll find his group (be them transit enthusiasts or otherwise) before he knows it.

What does your child/teen do to connect with others?

Love Languages

How do you show others you love them?

We were having dinner, discussing how our days went. I asked my sons if either of them had learned anything new or interesting at school. My youngest shared that in his math class, his teacher had added what love languages are. My son’s school is all about equipping boys academically and emotionally so hearing the teacher added this following the lesson wasn’t shocking, but a pleasant surprise.

“What did you learn?,” I asked. “Well,” my son replied, “we learned about love languages and different ways you show others love.” “What are they?” I asked. I’ve read Gary Chapman’s work about love languages before, but was curious to hear what my son would share. “There’s quality time, where you are present with the other person. There’s gifting, and well, that’s obvious. There’s touch, which can mean being close, holding hands, etc.” His older brother decided to leave the table at this point — the talk of intimacy was making him uncomfortable (though unclear if it was the content or discussing it in front of mom and dad 😊). My youngest continued, “words of affirmation, and gifts of service, you know doing something for the other person.”

I was impressed that my son was so knowledgeable in the area of showing others love. Though I shouldn’t be, as his school has made it a point to arm their students with this information. It is a gift when your teen knows about healthy relationships and armed with clarity around different ways we show each other love so he can avoid some of the common pitfalls (not or mis-understanding what’s going on, misinterpret, and hurt or be hurt), so he can have healthy relationships with others. I would have benefited greatly myself if I’d been given this information at his age.

How are you modeling what love is for your child? How are you helping them grow their emotional intelligence so they experience healthy relationships with others?

I will be off next week spending time with family, and will be back at the end of the month.