I Paint My Son’s Nails :: A Call To Let Your Kids Be Who They Want To Be

My 3 year old loves getting his nails painted. He has a baby doll he sleeps with every night and that he use to carry around none stop. He loves princesses. But he’s also obsessed with Pokémon. He spends hours climbing trees and wrestling with his brother, and he hasn’t met a superhero he wasn’t just crazy about.

What do I think this all means?

I think it means he’s 3. He likes what he likes and he doesn’t worry about who’s supposed to like it. I don’t think your preferences at 3 are any determination of your future sexuality.

I almost always keep my nails painted, and he has always been in awe of them and wanted to see what colors I was choosing. So when he started asking if I would paint his nails, I, of course, did. Also every time I have painted them, I have zero regret. I love how excited he gets, how proud he looks. It’s a testament to how much he wants those nails all bright and colorful because he will sit there for as long as it takes to get them to dry and getting him to sit still in any other scenario is no easy task.

I want my children to passionately be who they are and be proud of it. It’s ok if it’s different than someone else; it’s who you are.

If painting your nails makes you happy, what color do you want? If you’re not hurting anyone and you’re happy with who you are, well then that’s who you need to be.

It seems too often we label our children “oh, he’s the silly one” or “she’s the shy one,” and it almost paints them into this box and that’s just who they are. Instead, we should support kids in being whatever they want to be and encourage them to try lots of things. If something ends up not being for them, well then at least they tried it.

We tend to let our children fall prey to our own limitations, fears and anxieties.

Sometimes if something my children want to do or try makes me uncomfortable, I have to stop and think “what’s the worst that could happen?” And if it’s not harm to self or others, then I might have to be a little uncomfortable to let my kids be who they are.

Probably the biggest example of this for me personally is letting my kids dress themselves. I like matching and coordinating outfits. But sometimes kids see things totally different than we do. So when that 3 year old wanted to wear the Halloween shirt in January with the pants that don’t match, I let it happen. It did make me slightly uncomfortable. What if people think I don’t care about my kids outfits? Well, who cares. That boy was happy and so proud of his outfit and he was being who he is.

We are our children’s safe space to try things out, to figure out who they are. Our role as their parent is to foster their growth in whoever they become, for them to know that whoever they turn out to be we will always be here loving them like crazy.

Tara grew up all over south Louisiana and currently lives in Metairie with her husband Josh, and their 3 kids Dax, Dane and Delta. Tara is a buyer for a local food-service distribution company and Community Director for New Orleans Mom. During the week she can be found replying to emails, carpooling kids all around, giving out hugs and kisses, and looking forward to bedtime. Weekends are for family adventures, naps and cheering for LSU and the Saints. She loves trying new foods, travel, and she and her family love all things New Orleans, but especially Mardi Gras.


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