Part I

By Dr. Alan Winder

I read an interesting article about a father whose two-year-old son likes to wear dresses and the father’s reaction to it. (He allows and supports it.) This got me thinking about the general topic of parenting, and the specific topics of judgment, control, acceptance, and values that play such important roles in parenting.

There are many factors that contribute to how someone feels about a boy wearing a dress. At the center is the person’s general attitude towards sexuality, and homosexuality in particular. If a parent believes that homosexuality is fine, then there would be no reason to address this behavior. However, if a parent believes homosexuality is “wrong” then the parent must decide how to react.

Childhood is really one huge process of experimentation. While growing up, children are constantly experiencing victories and defeats, successes and failures. This takes place on a major scale, when the developing child makes big decisions that clearly will affect the rest of life, as well as on a microcosmic scale–each day and every moment, the child is experimenting, trying different things, seeing the effect they have. Every tiny social interaction, every action that has a consequence, no matter how small, is part of the experience of childhood. Learning about what works and what doesn’t and applying those lessons to achieve success is what shapes each child’s unique personality.

Making mistakes is an important part of this process. A child must have the opportunity to make mistakes in order to have the opportunity to learn from them and gradually adapt as a result. An overprotective parent who excessively shields a child from making mistakes is doing the child a disservice, as this will result in a lack of confidence and independence. The more mistakes a child has the opportunity to make and learn from, the more successful the child will likely be in life.

Next Week: So what role does the parent play? v

Dr. Winder is a clinical psychologist in practice in Cedarhurst. He accepts some insurance plans. He can be reached at 516-345-0456 or This article in its entirety appears in his blog, Join the conversation there!


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