Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Bubble babies and dress codes for parents

Saw a couple of interesting parenting-related articles in the local paper recently. This one questions whether parents today are unreasonably overprotective of their children, to the point of raising a generation of "bubble babies." In our rush to guard them from every negative experience and even the slightest possibility of peril, various experts opine, we may be encouraging passivity, obesity and anxiety. And on the subject of too much protection being a bad thing, check out this article about a parent in St. Louis who volunteered to chaperone a school field trip but caused a stir when it turned out that what all the kids took to be just another mom was really a cross-dressing dad. Some parents were outraged when they heard of this -- allegedly protective of their little ones' knowledge that there's such a thing as a transgender adult -- but what you gotta love about this story is that THE KIDS DIDN'T NOTICE until their parents got all up in arms about it. If no one had made a fuss, it would have been a non-issue, and parents and children both would have been spared uncomfortable explanations. But where the ticked-off parents really lose me is in their proposed remedy for the situation:
"The parents have asked the district to let them know whenever the father in question visits Castlio Elementary School, so they can withdraw their children from class. And they are pleading for a dress code that would require all adults who interact with students to 'dress in what a 9- or 10-year-old perceives as normal clothes for a man or a woman.'
Oh, dear me. A dress code for parents? Legislated by 9- or 10-year-olds? What if they all get together and say that they perceive clown suits as normal clothes for a man or a woman? Or, worse, that they think all women should wear pumps and pearls? If men and women both wear jeans and t-shirts, is that going to be a problem? I guess there's a certain justice to the idea, since kids have to abide by dress codes that require them to wear what adults perceive as normal clothes for 9- or 10-year-olds. But still, I really don't think we want to go there.

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