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Mum Asks if She is in the Wrong for Forcing Her Daughters to Wear Dresses

Mum Asks if She is in the Wrong for Forcing Her Daughters to Wear Dresses

If you’ve ever had to wrangle your child into an outfit that they didn’t like, you’ll know its something of a no-win situation. If they don’t wear it you are disappointed that they don’t want to wear something that you paid good money for, and if they do wear it they are utterly miserable and let you know about it…usually all day until they are allowed to take it off! Most of us have experienced this at one time or another – usually on a special occasion when they are expected to wear something different from what they are used to.  Most of us would agree its exhausting and usually not worth the stress on either side, so the thought of having to do this on a regular basis seems ludicrous. But, that’s what one mum is doing, even though her daughters are now in their teens!

Taking to Reddit the mum, who regularly forces her teenage daughter’s to wear dresses to visit their grandparents, asks if she is in the wrong. Not surprisingly, her daughters who dislike wearing dresses of any description and who she describes as ‘tomboyish,’ despise visits with their ‘traditional’  grandparents who consider girls wearing pants to be ‘showing off’ and unchristian. But with one of the daughter’s threatening to cut contact with their grandparents when they turn 18, the question shouldn’t be “Am I the arsehole?”,  it should be “how can we fix the relationship between my daughters’ and their grandparents?”

My in-laws are what you would call traditional. They seem to think the world should have stopped 50 years ago, and think everything since then is evil. They aren’t racist (that I know of) or outwardly bigoted, but they just are very old fashioned.

My husband and I have three children (16f, 14f, 10m) and we go to visit all their grandparents since they live close. Here’s the issue, they don’t like the idea of women wearing pants. My MIL says it’s “showing off” and my FIL always says it isn’t Christian. Now I’m pretty feminine, so I don’t mind throwing on a dress when we stop by, but our daughters are not.

They don’t like visiting my husbands parents, which breaks his heart, because we make them put on a dress before they go. They are both pretty tomboyish, and they never wear any dresses otherwise. I had to but each of them a few dresses specifically so they can go. To be clear it’s not like they aren’t allowed over if they wear pants, it’s just that they won’t shut up the entire time about how much they hate it.

Our daughters hate this, and think it’s unfair. I guess it is, but in a lot of cultures women only wear skirts and dresses so I don’t think it’s a big deal. Plus it isn’t like it hurts them to wear a dress a few times a week for a few hours. The issue is our oldest is planning to never speak to her grandparents again after she’s 18, and I’m worried it’s affecting them.

We got caught up at thinking it was going to be once every couple of months, but then the mother drops the bomb that it’s only for a few hours a few times a WEEK! After finding out that, we had to delve into the comments to see what other people had to say about the situation.

“News flash: Christ didn’t wear pants, either. So, if you’re traditional, it’s not masculine OR Christian to wear pants.

This is about controlling women’s bodies and removing their bodily autonomy. If it was three times a year, I might see it as an acceptable concession. Every week, for hours? YTA, big time. You are telling your daughters that other people can dictate about their bodies. It’s a terrible lesson to impart.”

I’m just glad it wasn’t just me who was shocked to find out it was a couple times a week, rather than a couple times a year! We do agree, bodily autonomy is such an important lesson to teach your children, especially our daughters!

“OP, one set of my grandparents was just like your ILs and I have had virtually no relationship with them for my adult life.

I can’t think of a single memory of feeling relaxed or happy with them. There was always something they were picking at or criticizing. On the rare occasions I did see them as an adult, they criticized how little I visited the entire time, which in turn made me want to see them even less.

I also had a lot of resentment toward the parent who never stood up for me with them and subjected me to all of their criticism. Every visit felt like being an emotional punching bag for a couple hours and I couldn’t wait to escape. My sister feels the same way.

YTA and you need to do right by your kids. Sit down and have a conversation about what they want their relationship with their grandparents to be. I’m not saying never see them, but you may need to cut back, or your partner may need to have a difficult conversation with your ILs, or you and your daughters may need to find a compromise (like leggings under dresses) and you shut down any discussion of their clothes during visits.

Some food for thought: I know there are some people who just really hate wearing dresses that much. But if your kids actually enjoyed spending time with your ILs outside of the dress thing, I don’t think this would be such an issue. I’d encourage you to really think about what your visits like them are like from the kids’ perspective and if the dresses are actually the true problem or a symptom of a different problem.”

We found this comment to be a lot of food for thought! Are the dresses the only problem or is there something else going on here and that’s just the straw that broke the camels back? It’s definitely a wake up call for the OP, especially when the commenter says that they do hold a lot of resentment toward the parent that subjected them to being an emotional punching bag. Hopefully, OP can get on top of this and save the relationship between her daughters, themselves and their grandparents.

“OP, the first thing you should have done is sat your in laws down, told them that your daughters are not comfortable in dresses, and that if they want a relationship with the girls, they need to keep their opinions on dresses to themselves. That’s all it takes.

My grandma is 85. She has some really strong views on religion, and the lack thereof in my house. I told her that if she wants to spend time with my kids, she had to stop telling them that I was wrong for how I was raising them and speaking out against the UU church we attend. My kids greatly benefit from knowing her, and she delights in their presence. But setting a boundary isn’t disrespectful – it allows us to have a flourishing relationship.”

We agree that setting boundaries earlier on would’ve saved a lot of torment and resentment for every party in this. Now the grandparents have expectations, the parents don’t want to rock the boat and the daughters don’t feel like there’s anyone in their corner to help them. We’re hoping the family can get through this together and come out stronger, but it really depends on what next steps are taken as to whether the daughters enjoy visiting their grandparents for the next 2 years or if they build up more resentment towards their grandparents and their parents before going no contact.

What are your thoughts? Are the parents the arsehole for making their daughters wear dresses to appease their old fashioned grandparents?

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