This is the second of a 3 part sermon series. ha, ha! It's just the 2nd post on this topic so if you just popped in & are clueless about what I am talking about go back to THIS POST.
You know by now that in our family that the only conforming we are to do is to God's standards. That sounds so clear cut, thought not necessarily easy. Yet, within God's standards and among believers in the Lord Jesus Christ there can be great differences that don't go against Him. This is wear it can be hard for any young adult (or old adult at times) but for someone with social struggles anyway, this really is confusing.
In the book I mentioned in my first post, Stargirl, the fictional character who was a non-conformist, wore long skirts to school. It sounds like what she wore would have looked like something Laura Ingalls Wilder would have worn. I have friends who only wear skirts or dresses, but they don't look like they need to get into a covered wagon & head west. The girl in the story didn't just look a little different, but apparently VERY different. She also had a pet rat she carried with her to school (which is totally fictional as no school would allow a non-service pet). I hope I am painting the right word pictures here. I'm also smiling because one of my dear friends who is likely reading this wears skirts & used to have a pet rat. I am PRETTY SURE she never walked around the school cafeteria playing the ukulele while singing happy birthday to all the students. : )
So what happens when your child wants to wear something that doesn't go against Scripture or your standards but is very different from the norm? A few years ago we took our Girl Scout troop to a pioneer farm. One of my favorite "other daughters" (a friend's daughter who is also my daughters' friend) bought a sunbonnet, the kind from the Little House days. She was determined to start a new trend in our homeschool co-op. I thought it was so cool that she was willing to step out of the boundaries. And after a few nasty sunburns on my face and neck, I'm about ready to wear a sunbonnet! Another girl we know often had on the most unusual outfits. They were things I might have told my daughters not to wear, but they were okay by her mom and not bad, just different. I've noticed some things coming back in style that I love: floral prints and bows. I am of the Laura Ashley generation. I loved that our generation had styles that could have easily been worn, with some adaptation, in an English novel written in the 1800's. Not Charles Dickens, mind you, but more of the Jane Austen type. Natalie likes some of the floral prints. Bethany likes hair bows. She likes the BIG hair bows that are in style now. She also has some interesting tastes. She has some neon pink sunglasses that flip up and a plain clear lens is underneath. I actually have owned clip on sun shades for my glasses that did that. While I thought they were not attractive, they were highly practical. Of course mine were not neon pink, either.
There is a phrase I used in the last paragraph that is where difficulty seems to arise. The phrase is "in style." Who are these people who determine what is "in style?" Who decided in the 1920's that feed sacks would be made of pretty fabrics that could be turned into dresses? Who decided in the 1950's to put a poodle on a skirt? Who decided to put strings on a cotton shirt, dip it in different colors and produce the tie-dye look? I have no clue. I have no idea why people follow certain trends. I just know that when something is introduced, it might catch your eye, or it might not. It might grow on you over time. Or you may think the thing is hideous forever.
Back to the question of conformity. If you think your child's choice of clothing or maybe even an activity is within God's standards and you are okay with it, do you allow your child to wear the clothes or do the activity? Maybe it's dressing like Laura Ingalls Wilder or maybe it's a boy who wants to sew. Chances are the child will be ridiculed, not only by other kids but by adults, as well. Sometimes a sister could possibly be the one ridiculing your child. Not that we've ever had THAT issue in our house. Ahem. Or it could be a relative or a friend or someone totally different. On the other hand, you might have someone say, "That is a really cute bow in your hair," when you are at the craft store because the people there are, well, crafty and creative.
We have enough social behavior issues to deal with that I generally don't care if the girls choose something, within the guidelines, that I would never wear or that I might find unstylish. I DO try to let them know if I think an outfit might be criticized so they are not in shock. When I'm dealing with issues like getting a child to go through a buffet line on her own (she won't do it) or to stop correcting other people's grammar or other type of behavior (an issue we deal with frequently) or to learn that just because something may be true or may be your opinion, you DON'T have to share it, then I honestly am okay if my child wants to wear purple and neon green striped socks. If she isn't worried about what others think, then why should I be?
Of course, now that summertime is here (yes, Virginia, it is summertime in March in Texas) we have the issues of finding modest summer clothing. Since we are a family of mile long legs and arms stuck on a body, and since we ARE okay with wearing shorts (it's just plumb hot here), it's the ongoing battle of finding long enough shorts. Bethany is so put out with stores making shorts so short. Natalie has always worn her pants lower than her waist (with LONG shirts) and she has less leg than the rest of us, so she can get away with most shorts, but it's still a struggle. And finding swimsuits? Well, THAT is a whole topic for non-conformity that I won't even address here!
I'd love to read your input on dealing with issues like these: when your child wants to do something that is God honoring but might bother others or might cause ridicule for being different. Do you let them do it? Do you encourage them not to? What do you think?
Edited to add: If my child is under someone else's authority at a certain time, such as in a class at co-op or staying with grandparents or friends, and they ask them not to do something, I expect them to comply. If the thing they are asked to do were to go against our rules, I'd probably go get them and bring them home. Thankfully, we have great friends & the girls have terrific grandparents! Bethany has had to take off the neon pink flip up glasses in a class setting where it was distracting to the teacher. We just bought some neon pink shorts for Natalie. I hope THOSE aren't too distracting in a class or she's in trouble! LOL! On the bright side, B. said, "I'm so proud of Natalie for getting something neon!" : )