Kids and Coats: A Battle to Let Go

by Tina Ann Forkner

Copyright: Tina Ann Forkner
Copyright Photo: Tina Ann Forkner

We were headed off to get our Christmas tree and just as everyone was on their way out to the truck, I noticed that nobody was wearing a coat. The kids all claimed they didn’t need coats because they were wearing layers, never mind that temperatures have been below zero around here for days.

I can never get my kids to wear coats anymore. I’m lucky if I get them to wear a sweatshirt. And those scarves to keep their necks warm? Those are for snowmen or to wear as a fashion statement, but only if you’re a girl.

Don’t they know what can happen if they don’t wear their coats? The dreadful possibilities are endless. They can freeze to death walking from the car into school, they can get extremely chilly on the playground, and I don’t care what the scientists are saying these days because my Mom and my Grandma always told me you can catch your death of a cold if you don’t wear a coat. Kids need coats!

So what is it that frustrates me so much about my kids not wearing a coat? Besides the fact that I told them to do it? I guess it’s the same reason I worry about them remembering to look both ways before crossing the road, or when I’m two minutes late picking them up for school. Sure, they’ll probably be okay, but what about the one time they’re not?

Kids don’t know how vulnerable they are. They don’t feel like they need a coat. They are unconquerable, and if you don’t have tweens and teens yet, just wait. It’s next to impossible to force them to put a coat on if they don’t want to wear one.

This morning it’s below zero (again) outside. I bet there will be a discussion about coats and it frustrates me to no end that I probably won’t win. They’ll walk out of the house dressed in “layers” or they’ll carry their coat in their hand, but don’t they know what can happen?

Of course they don’t know what can happen, and really neither do I, and in my heart I know that the coat struggle is really just a snapshot of a bigger picture.

I wish I could keep my kids safe all the time, but I can’t. I wish they could stay little enough for me to make them wear a coat (and those cute little mittens and hats and scarves), but I can’t keep them from growing up.

Like a friend once told me, sometimes you just have to let them go outside without their coats on and see what happens.

(Note: Since this post appeared as a featured post on Blogher in 2011, my children have grown. Two of them have lettered in sports. It makes me laugh a little that they wear their letter jackets most of the time now, but not to stay warm.)

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