4 Year Old Son Wears a Dress!

Updated on March 13, 2008
L.S. asks from Fresno, CA
5 answers

Is this something I should be worried about? He likes cars and playing in the dirt but he favors a pink dress out of our dress-up box. His twin sister is a girly-girl and almost always wears dresses. I have been through child development classes that say this behavior is just a phase so I don't make a big deal out of it. If it makes him happy...why rock the boat? His father is the one that has a problem with it! Daddy works out of town and comes home on his days off...only to be confronted by our sons obsession with wearing the pink dress. It bothers him to the point of sleeplessness!!! Can anybody help?
your pal, L. s.

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answers from Sacramento on

Hi L.,
I don't think any good can come out of making a big deal about this, or trying to restrict his dress-up! There are two possible scenarios here and neither one will be helped by flipping out over his choice of costume.

If this is "just a phase" as you put it, making a big deal will only make him anxious, and guilty and feel uncomfortable with is ability to make good choices (isn't that what free-play is about... getting to make choices).

If it is not a phase and he is truly wishing to be a girl, taking the dress away won't change that but will certainly make him feel like his parents don't understand or care about his feelings.

Just let him be who he is, dresses, trucks, dirt and all. He'll either grow out of it or he won't, the important thing is that he stay confident and secure in his relationship wiht his parents.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

No, and that is awesome. I think you rock the boat in the good way!

There is nothing wrong with pretend play and even if he wore it out on the town, I would think that was awesome and that you were a strong person for allowing him the freedom of expression to run around that way.

Little kids do not develop sexual identities from wearing dresses or blue jeans, otherwise my blue jeans habit should have turned me into a F-M Trannie long ago.

Take lots of pics for posterity, laugh it off like you appear to be doing anyway, and tell your husband to chill. If your kid "turns gay" from a pink dress, that will be the first recorded incident in the history of mankind.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Hi L.,

I don't have any suggestions myself, but my sister and I were talking about this very thing a few days ago. She was telling me about that Nanny show, I think is on ABC right after Wife Swap (9pm I believe) but you'd have to check to be sure, but my sister said tonights episode is dealing with this very issue.

My 6 yr old went through a phase where he wanted to be just like me. He would always say he wanted to be a "Mommy" just like me, and he would want to put on make up because he watched me doing so. Our issue was that he was just looking to have someone to look up to and model after, I happened to be the closest and I am a stay at home mom, so I was ALWAYS right there for him. My hubby started spending more time with him, as well as setting up play dates with other boys his age. Could it be he is overly close with you or could he be around alot of girls so this is what he is used to? He may also miss and want more time with Daddy.

We no longer have this issue and he is completely all boy now!! Although now he asks if he can "Marry" me lol.

Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

This is going to be a hard one if it makes your husband so uncomfortable. The obvious concern is that he is going to be gay -- and if he is going to be gay, then he is, and whether he wears a dress or not will not change that. Wearing a dress will not make him gay. However making a big deal out of wearing the dress IS more likely to cause a problem. What are your views on homosexuality? As I said, one dress means nothing, but if certain behaviors continue through the years you may have to consider it a possibility and hopefully it is something the two of you can accept.
A friend of mine's oldest son always did things (many, not just a dress), that were more typical of girls, and she and I would often wonder if he were going to end up gay. She was perfectly accepting of it, however, so it was just a question, not a worry. I'd call her once a year and say, so, is he gay yet? And one day I got a message on my phone saying, 'you know that question we've been asking for years? Well the answer's yes.'
So I'm sure I have not put your mind at ease, but my main points are (1) just because he wears a dress doesn't mean anything at his age, and (2) if he's going to be gay a dress won't promote it and you can't stop it.
I doubt this helps, but there it is.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

Your request brought a funny story to mind for me. My cousin is a great big (6'9") macho man who hunts, fishes, drives a big truck, etc. His little boy is the same age as my little girl. So at Christmas when they were 4, the kids went off to play in my daughter's room, and when they came out, my cousin's son was dressed in full princess regalia - tiara, feather boa, pink dress, high heels, and clip-on earrings! The kids marched into the room and he said, "LOOK AT ME! I'M A PRINCESS!"
Which of course prompted us all to laugh so hard we cried (not because he was wearing a tiara, but because of how his dad is).
In any case, this same child is now 5.5 and is ALL boy. It was just a passing phase. (He is, however, happy to dress up as Spiderman and escort the princesses to the royal ball.) I think most kids around that age have such active imaginations, and there's nothing wrong with him exploring his feminine side. Especially since his best playmate is probably his sister! Completely normal. Don't worry!

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