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'Shirting' our reponsibilities as parents

January 27, 2012 - Betsy Bethel
What is wrong with kids' clothing manufacturers, the retail stores that sell them and the parents that buy them? I can only speak to the parents, because if they didn't buy the clothes, the others would stop selling and making them.

1. If you want people to look at your daughter's butt, by all means buy her pants and shorts that have words written across the back. This trend has GOT to end. There are enough sickos out there and enough young girls with image problems, why play right into their hands?

2. You complain about your child's disrespectful tone and attitude, but you buy him or her shirts that say things like, "It's All About Me," and "Annoying You Is One of My Talents." Or how about this one: "I hate it when: I lose at video games. My teacher wakes me up. Stupid people read my shirt!!!!"

3. You surely want your child to enjoy school, but you let her wear a shirt that says: "I LOVE SCHOOL WHEN IT'S CLOSED." — OK???

4. Want your daughter to be a "mean girl"? Then by all means give her a shirt that says: "Give me your number. (Like I'd call you.)"

These are not teenager's clothes I'm talking about. These are 4-6x sizes, and even toddler sizes.

OK, so dressing your infant in a shirt with a saying that you and other adults think is funny is one thing. Some of the baby shirts are cute, such as "Party at my crib. 2 a.m. B.Y.O.B." and even "Does this diaper make my butt look big?" Babies can't read, and at this age they are strictly an extension of you. Displaying your sense of humor on your baby's chest or back may be a debatable practice, but the child isn't going to get a complex from it. (Although one still questions why anyone would put a T-shirt on a baby that says "All Mommy Wanted Was a Back Rub." I am not making this up.)

But older children, preschoolers and grade-school kids especially, are sponges who want to be just like Mommy and Daddy. If Mommy or Daddy get a kick out of a shirt that says "Boys are stupid. Throw rocks at them," the child will most likely take that message to heart. The "little princess" might not throw rocks at the neighbor boy, buy she might accept the notion that boys are stupid — and so might the slightly older boy at the mall or playground who can read.

Sense of humor is relative, I understand that. But I for one think the world would be a better place if these "funny" Ts were incinerated. I would even have a hard time giving them away to charity, knowing that some child in Somalia could be unwittingly sporting a "Be Stupid for Successful Living" T-shirt.

Our children are only innocent for a short time, as it is; parents should do their best to keep them from these ugly, narcissistic and sadistic ideas as long as they can.

I may sound like a goody-goody, but maybe if more kids wore clothing with positive sayings, our kids would have more positive outlooks and be kinder to each other. I HAVE seen some good ones out there: "Pick flowers not fights," "Be Yourself" and a million different designs touting "peace" and "love" — principles for which I'd give the shirt off my back. And put it on my daughter.


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