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Setting Some Limits on Pint-Sized Style

Are we spending too much to dress our kids?

Flipping through the most recent issue of Parenting magazine I was a bit dismayed that it read largely like a spring-edition fashion mag for the pint-sized set.

It got me thinking more about the time, energy and money we put into our children's looks as we slub around in yoga pants while dropping them here and there. Of course we're all on our way to work out... But you see my point.

I love kid fashion as it mimics adult trends (sometimes more than appropriate) and offers outlandish color combos that only a six-year-old can pull off. But I also have a healthy limit to styling my child. I never bought into the frilly, fluffy and matchy-matchy ensembles that the marketing masters at Gymboree and Gap Kids try to inspire. Of course the clothes are cute. When you pay $30 for a pair of size 2T kid jeans, they better be.

But how about a little perspective? Any mother will rant about the lack of longevity of any size-age range. Kids just grow too fast and rarely wear out their clothing. At the rate of purchase, it's not always feasible or realistic to spend like this. Unless, of course, you're buying for them instead of yourself. Which to me is a whole other can-O-worms: Because as adults and hard working parents we owe it to ourselves to feel put together. Focusing on yourself - being fit, trendy and confident - isn't going to stunt your child's growth and surely not impact a high end wardrobe they can barely comprehend. An article for another day perhaps.

There's a lot to be said about the family hierarchy here. Kids don't earn the right to be better dressed than their parents. They don't buy the clothes and they certainly don't work for it. We could use this example as a teachable moment. Sure, a special party dress or frivolous extra pair of new shoes is fun, but it's also a privilege and not a right. Could there be a lesson in values here?

Part of me understands the need to deck your child to the nines. How else will we relay to the world how cute, charming and well-behaved they might be? It's a great smoke screen. And since we all seem to be fighting post baby weight and a daily battle of disorganization and chaos, why not submerge ourselves into a clean, tidy and forced fashion-forwardness for our kids. It is easy to do.

My point, if there is one in this rant, is that sure, it's fun and entertaining to live vicariously through dressing your mini-me but they are hard wearing, fast growing children. And not entirely deserving. Couldn't that money and effort be better spent on your own style and self-esteem where it will possibly transpire into your child's respect and appreciation? Just a thought.

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