Single Dad Asks If He Was Wrong For Not Letting Son Wear A Dress To School In Case He Got Bullied

He wants to protect him, but is he stifling him?

Last updated on Nov 07, 2023

man and son getting dressed together LightField Studios / Shutterstock

A father who was tasked with making a difficult decision when it came to what he would allow his son to wear to school is now asking Reddit if he made the right decision.

The father explained that he is a single dad and has been very accepting of his son's creativity. 

"I think it’s important for children to be creative so they find their true passion in life. My son (12) is really into fashion and I’m sure he’ll do wonderful things in the fashion industry," the man wrote in his Reddit post.


Through his son, the man learned about the gender spectrum and many other concepts that he wasn't familiar with. His son told him that he wanted to appeal to both the female and male gaze, and wanted to wear more suits, dresses, and makeup. While the man doesn't mind if his son wears dresses around him, while getting ready for school, he noticed his son putting on one of his new sundresses to wear for the day.

"I thought he was just trying out different outfits at first, so I went down to prepare some breakfast. When he came [down] I saw him still wearing the dress, but this time he had his backpack on. So I asked if he was wearing it to school," the man continued.


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When his son said that he was wearing the dress to school, the father told him he couldn't because he'd be bullied.

The father later says, in the post, that he lives in Arlington, Texas, and seems to be concerned that people will not be accepting.

"I’ll spare you the details of the argument that we had, but he eventually took it off and wore boys' clothing. He was very upset at me though and cried during his ride to school," the man wrote.

He explained that he does want his son to be happy and secure in who he is, but not at the expense of how his classmates will treat him, which he described as being "cruel."


"I don't want him to experience that type of treatment from his peers," the man concluded.

While some users bashed the father for not letting his son wear a dress, others sympathized with him.

"If he is crying because you won’t let him wear the clothes he wants, he truly and genuinely wants to wear it. He’s not afraid of getting 'bullied.' And who’s to say he will get bullied?" one person wrote.

Another added, "Based on the above info, it looks like you support him just as long as he doesn’t bring his creativity outside. Looks like you’re the one that’s not comfortable because someone might see your son wearing girl clothes."

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Some people noted that the family's location had to be taken into account.

"[He] stated in another comment that he lives in Texas," one person wrote, adding, "his reasons for not letting his son wear the dress might be less to do with bigotry and more to do with 'I don't want the state to take my son from me and charge me with abuse'."

While the man didn't specify if his son was transgender, the Texas Supreme Court recently cleared the way for the state child welfare agency to resume investigating parents and doctors who provide gender-affirming care for trans youth, according to NPR. It's caused many Texas families with transgender children to depart the state or consider moving because of the threat of an impending investigation that Gov. Greg Abbott likens to being synonymous with child abuse.

Parents should lead with empathy when their children explore gender identity.

It's natural for parents to want to protect their children from bullying, especially in localities where people may be less accepting. As the discourse around gender identity becomes more commonplace, so will the instances of boys wearing clothing traditionally gendered as women's. Until then, Dr. Meg Meeker, pediatrician, author and global leading authority in child-father relationships, implores parents not to shame their sons for experimenting with their style.


"If you’re worried about how your community or how his school would respond to him in a dress, you could restrict dress-wearing time to weekends or when you’re on vacation," Dr. Meeker wrote on her website. "But don’t worry about it too much, especially what others will think."

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter.