My children get some choices but not as many as a lot of children probably. I don't remember what it was like when I was a kid except that I didn't have many clothes. The kids in my classes made comments--and those I do remember. It was hard. So, the summer after 6th grade when I started working, I started buying my own clothes. I didn't have a lot of taste though and had no idea what was in style, but I tried. I had Guess, Bongo, and Esprit clothes like everyone else--except that I bought them on clearance and at outlets. My husband has a memory of being given a pair of shoes as a child that he had to wear and which he hated. It made an impression on him. Now, he wants to wear what he wants to. Surprisingly, he will let me shop for him. I bring home clothes, he tries them on, and I return the ones he doesn't like. Sometimes that means that I return everything and sometimes I return only one or two things from a group of five items. Today I get to return one of three packages of socks =) to Marshalls.
Based on my own childhood experiences with clothes and my husband's, I've thought about when and what clothing choices I should give my kids. A couple of months ago, I donated a bunch of the girls clothes that they weren't wearing. A month ago, Autumn mourned the loss of one of the dresses because now she wants to wear it. It frustrated me, but at the same time I knew that the point of donating the clothes was to help her learn to be thankful for what she has. My kids get to choose what they wear each day from their clothes (given a parameter like shorts and a shirt).
But, when it comes to choosing what clothes we purchase, my kids get to choose between two shirts, but they've never gotten to simply go into a store and pick out clothes that they'd like to buy. I can't afford to give them that choice. So, there is a balance that I have to find. When I am able to give them a choice between two things, I do--like which color they'd like for their winter coat.
This is an example of how it plays out when we go shopping...
I needed new shoes for Eli for the wedding and new sandals for Sami for the last month of summer since hers were torn and stunk! =( We headed to Payless for their BoGo 1/2 off with an extra 20% coupon. I tried to get Eli to try on a pair of dress shoes. He refused. I held out another and he refused again. I found a nice pair of tennis shoes with colors that matched his outfit for the wedding and he lit up. I was concerned because the price tag said $16.99. He tried them on and they fit. I had my own concerns about the heels on the dress shoes and how much Eli runs around, so the nice tennis shoes made sense to me. I thought I would only buy one pair of ballet shoes and use one pair of our old ones for the fall for the girls since they cost about the same as the price tag for the tennis shoes. Then, I set to looking for a pair of sandals for Sami. I couldn't find anything less than $10.99. Finally, my eyes landed on a pair that were $7.99! I pulled them out and showed them to Sami. She loved them--yay! Then, I went to look for the box for Eli's shoes and discovered that there was a tag that said they were $9.99! I was thrilled. I could buy 2 pairs of ballet shoes and the others. After the 20% off and bogo, Sami's sandals ended up being $3.20, Eli's $8.00 and the ballet shoes averaged $12. I was very thankful! I have come to feel that it is not really me that helps me find the right shoes for my kids, but it is God's hand. I seek to be a good steward and stretch what the finances he has given us, but at the very same time I have seen him provide choices that we're able to afford. I came home very thankful! Sami is very happy and doesn't feel like she didn't have a choice. And Eli loves his shoes too and I feel good about them too.