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SCHOOL CLOTHES

All parents want their children to look “nice.” We actually spend a lot of time on children’s clothes. We spend time shopping for them, doing the laundry, cleaning closets, and giving away the outgrown outfits.

What we don’t spend enough time on is thinking about some tough issues that have to do with what our kids wear. Every now and then I make a point of watching children leave school. In this country in most places they look pretty good. They all have shoes and jackets if it is cold. Most have backpacks.

BUT, especially in middle school and high school, many kids are wearing grossly inappropriate clothes. Sadly this is especially true among girls. Many wear suggestive clothes that sexualize them long before nature does so by starting puberty. Tight, short skirts are one example. Bare midriffs another.

I never thought I would feel this way as I strongly support individual freedoms and choices but perhaps it is time to go back to school uniforms. Most schools in other parts of the world require uniforms. I favor a simple requirement: a white blouse or shirt and a navy skirt or trousers. This gives parents and children some leeway in purchasing clothes (long or short sleeves, cotton or polyester). The advantages of such a system is that it prevents inappropriate attire at school and it simplifies decisions about what to buy or what to lay out for school the next day.

Although some school districts have headed in this direction most have not. So, what’s a parent to do now?

There are several factors that affect children’s clothes choices. Taste, yours and theirs and their peers. Cost. Durability. Appropriateness. Alas, all of these can be trumped by the gazillion-dollar advertising industry.

However hard it is I advise parents to 1) Be in-charge. (It’s your money, you decide how to spend it.) 2) Stand fast. (These are your values which means they belong to your entire family.) 3) Do not permit your children to wear inappropriate clothes that are sexually suggestive. 4) Work with other parents and the schools on appropriate dress for all children.

Children in school should be learning, dreaming about their future, and figuring out how to get along with others. They should NOT be dressing like an MTV video. Your daughter can grow up to be the president of a multinational corporation or the country some day. Teach her the importance of good taste now, no matter what the magazines show.

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