What Are You Wearing?

Everyone has childhood memories of their father. As a kid, I have great memories with my Dad. Just in case this sounds weird or sad, hes still alive and he is one of my Besties. I talk to my Dad all the time. Okay okay back to the point. I have great childhood memories of my Dad. Baking english muffin pepperoni pizzas, dancing to the electric slide after dinner, and even bike riding.

Um Courtney… don’t all kids do cool things like this with their Dads? Why are you bringing this up when you’re supposed to be talking to me about being on top of my Public School Parenting game? I’ll tell you why. I am bringing this up because in every single one of those memories, my daddy was in a suit. Bike riding in a suit? Baking in a suit? Why Court?

My father was a stickler for leaving a strong, respectable, in control impression. He had the type of demeanor that projected each of those adjectives but, just in case you were not planning on giving him a chance to show you, he wore a suit to let you know without having to open his mouth. To this day, my father is always in a suit and it is still for those exact same reasons.

The reason I am choosing to bring this up is because I want to know how you feel about the power of appearance. As I get older, and now that I have my girls, I find myself leaning towards my father’s mindset of “show them you mean business before you talk business.” Going to the DMV? I wear a suit and I dress the girls in neat looking outfits. Parent Teacher Conference Night? You’d best believe that I am wearing a suit. Experience has taught me that the way I am dressed greatly affects how other people start off treating me.

On my first day teaching at High School for Law and Public Service, the security guards would not let me through the front doors. “You know better. You don’t come through here. You have to wait in the lunchroom like everyone else!” I was taken aback. I remember feeling flushed and nervous even though I was fully justified and entitled to walk through the front door the way I did. At a loss for words, I pulled my bag open and fumbled for some kind of proof but I had none because it was my first day. I had to find my words.

I’m a new teacher. Today is my first day abnd I do not have my I.D. yet. See! Here’s my keys!” The woman looked me over and I guess it was the key-ring or the fact that my bag was a woman’s messenger style bvriefcase but she gestured with her head for me to go ahead to the elevator. No apology, no smile and giggle acknowledging her mistake. I was dismissed and that was the end of that.

I called my father on the verge of tears. My first day and I’m in the bathroom trying to pull myself together. He calmed me down and gave me the simplest solution ever. “From here on out, you wear a suit ‘hooch’. That’s all. No one questions a suit.” He took me shopping that weekend at a high end thrift store and we bought a suit and some very nice black, navy blue, and grey dress pants. White collared shirts from Macy’s were a gift from my Aunt. I even felt better in my business attire. And you know what? That never happened again. If a guard mistook me for a student I’d unzip my winter coat and smile. They would laugh, tell me how young I looked and wish me a good day.

When we are in a position of power, which we are as advocates for our children, does it matter how we present ourselves? There is a shift in today’s society that says “it doesn’t matter what you wear or how you look, everyone deserves respect and if you feel like someone is not showing you your respect, don’t show them any.” How accurate is this statement? Is it idealistic?

I”m not telling you focused parents that a suit is required whenever you sit down with a teacher. It really is not. What you wear is your preference and your decision. No matter what you have on, a teacher should be informative, respectful, supportive, and open to share any and everything they need to in order to help your child.

Would you feel more comfortable advocating for your child if you were dressed in a more businesslike attire? If a person sat in front of you dressed in a suit, would your first impression be one of “let me make sure all my ducks are in a row, looks like this person means business?”

When my girls start school, I will be dressing like my father for each and every event I have to attend at their school. If not a suit, a nice pair of dress pants and a collared shirt. These outfits are my Superman cape, my Wonderwoman bracelets, and my Batman armor. I transform into the person I need to be when I am dressed in business attire and I like it. I’ve got a long list of things I’ve learned from my daddy, this is one of the ones that makes me look good!

In the mean time and between time, the conversations you have with teachers should not depend on what you’re wearing right? Right. What does matter are the questions you ask when you’re sitting face to face with your child’s teacher or you have their ear over the phone.
I’d love your thoughts and feedback! Let’s discuss!

Stay Focused Parents!

Your Personal Consultant,

Courtney H.

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