Dear Other Parents,
I respect the fact that we all have to do what is best for our kids. There is no secret formula for success. In my short time as a father, I’ve already discovered that much of the parenting advice I’ve received hasn’t worked for us. That doesn’t mean it’s bad advice in general, it just means it’s bad advice for us. Parenting, as I’ve always believed, is a very specialized and specified sort of activity. So there’s my disclaimer, or qualifier, or whatever you want to call it.
Now here’s the “but.” BUT it’s never best for your 9 year old daughter to wear a bikini. That’s literally never the right option. There is no secret formula for success, but there is a not-so-secret formula for failure — and that’s it, or part of it anyway. I was at the pool a few days ago and I saw a father walk in with his young daughter. The girl couldn’t have been any older than 8 or 9. Naturally, she was wearing a skimpy string bikini. How emasculated has a man become when he’s too afraid to stand up to his own 5th grade child and tell her she isn’t allowed to wear a couple pieces of yarn as a bathing suit? Well, either he’s too spineless to say no, or too confused to know that he should say no. I’m not sure which is worse.
Let’s be fair about this. Let’s list the pros and cons of letting your young child dress like a JV Victoria’s Secret wannabe. Cons: 1.You’ve just participated in the sexualization of your own child. 2. You’ve officially ruled out the possibility of ever teaching her to be modest. 3. You’re exposing her and embarrassing yourself in the process. 4. Pedophiles exist, even if you like to pretend they don’t. 5. SHE’S A FREAKING CHILD.
Pros: 1. Uh, well, um…. Well, first there’s… Hmmm… Ok, well your kid gets to do what she wants. That’s nice, I guess. 2. …Yeah, that’s it. That’s all I got. And, actually, the one pro leads directly to another con: 6.You don’t know how to say “no” to your daughter, which means you can’t expect her to ever learn how to say it herself when the time comes. And we know where that leads. Well, most of us know where that leads. But if you’re dumb enough to put your elementary schooler in a string bikini, maybe you need someone to spell it out for you.
I can’t stand the parents who justify bringing their scantily clad children out in public by saying, “Hey, but she likes to dress this way!” Oh, your kid likes it, you say? Well, surely that changes everything! Hell, when I was a kid I liked to play with matches. I also liked to eat Pixie Stix for every meal. I liked to throw water balloons inside the house. I liked to do a lot of stupid things. But you know what? My parents forced me to do what I SHOULD do, not what I WANTED to do. Pfffft. What party pooper, amiright?
One more thing. I’m not into the whole “it takes a village” deal. With that said, it helps if the village is at least on the same page about a few things. If you let your daughter dress like a showgirl, then the next guy’s daughter is going to want to do the same, and so on. Sure, I’d have no problem saying no, but, for goodness sake, can you work with me a little here? Some parents are actually trying to teach their kids about things like modesty, discipline, morality and chastity, yet they’ve got to deal with every other parent who tells their kids “hey, screw that noise, flaunt it if you got it, sista!” I mean, I’m just asking if you could, like, maybe not try to undo and dismantle every positive message and lesson we try to pass onto our kids. Please? Pretty please?
No? Didn’t think so.
Well, I tried.