Visiting clothing stores around the city, I see kids’ clothes becoming more and more like miniature adults’ clothes. Whether it’s faux vintage concert t-shirts or political slogans or smart couture ensembles, it leaves me with a vague uneasiness. Am I the only person who thinks that children’s clothing should be statement-neutral and distinctly child-like? A child should not be treated as a fashion accessory for expressing a parent’s hipness or politics.
Of course, there is a difference between using children’s clothing to convey simple cuteness and using children’s clothing to broadcast a parent’s socio-political agenda. I just wish I knew how to clearly draw that line.
I realize it’s hard for parents to be aware that a line exists at all. We indoctrinate our kids into every aspect of our lives, and so naturally our mistakes and misconceptions become theirs, too. But as much as we can, we need to be aware that some things should be a choice for the children to make on their own, when they’re ready to do so. Until then, a certain amount of neutrality should be maintained.
I think we can all agree that political slogans on children’s shirts are simply a reflection of a parent using their child as a kind of billboard for their own ideas. It’s a minor injustice, but it’s a telling reminder that more often than not, children take on the worldviews of their parents without really taking the time to examine things for themselves.
If you believe, though, that there are things about which children should be allowed to decide for themselves, and that political t-shirts for kids aren’t a good idea, then neither are religious t-shirts, or religious indoctrination in general. Children are almost never given a free choice to choose their religion, because how many parents would really tolerate that?
So true statement-neutrality is an apparent impossibility for most parents. Maybe, though, we could start by at least leaving the cute political shirts at home.