Spring is here, bringing with it almost entirely good things! Warmer weather! Flowers! Leaves! Baby animals! Sunshine! But every now and then spring brings some not-so-great things with it, too. Spring showers get annoying pretty quick, everything in the stores is pastel, and, of course, the age old argument between parents and children about whether or not they need to wear a jacket. This is clear-cut in the winter, sure, but spring? Eh, the answer is a little murkier. But here's why you shouldn't fight with your kid about wearing a jacket. No, really. Hear me out.
We've all seen it happen, right? Or have had it happen to us. You're zippering up your fleece against the gentle but distinct spring breeze. Your kid, seeing a friend in a t-shirt, happily and almost automatically sheds their outer-layer. "I don't need this!" they proudly proclaim. And you, freezing, are like, "Oh yes you do, kiddo!" And then it's this whole big Battle of Wills. Repeat March through mid-May.
But the crux of my argument can be summed up in one simple word: Why? Seriously, jackets exist for comfort, not survival. (Coats are another story.) No one's life ever depended on a weather-appropriate jacket (life jackets absolutely do not count here, guys). The only reason to wear a jacket is that you're chilly. If your kid is chill with a chill (see what I did there?) then the real need for a jacket is moot. So trust me when I say that you're going to be happier, your kid will be happier, and everyone is just going to be a whole lot happier if you don't argue about the jacket wearing. And here's why:
The Stakes Are Very Low
Guys, we're talking, like, 45 to 65 degree days here, generally speaking. No one every got hypothermia from being outside for a while in 45 to 65 degree weather without a jacket. Do I recommend being outside without a jacket when it's 47 degrees? No. You're probably going to at least eventually want something warmer than a shirt, but a worst case scenario here is being a little bit chilly, which is fine.
Your Kid Knows Better Than You Whether Or Not They're Cold
We all have that one friend who's always freezing, right? Or maybe we are that one friend? Maybe you have a friend who wears shorts all winter because they just like it? Point is, different people feel cold and heat differently and that's normal and OK. And you want to know what? I swear to God children do not feel cold. It's incredible. I'll be at the playground shivering my face off while they're running around in t-shirts — apple-cheeked, yes, but entirely unbothered — and it's like, "How?!" But it works out. They're fine, even if we're not, so why project?
Your Kid Can Always Put It Back On If They Get (Or Realize) They're Cold
I feel like a lot of us parents are acting like taking off a jacket is a permanent decision, like it's a tattoo or something. Your kid can always put their jacket back on if, in fact, they get cold! And you should know better than anyone that there is nothing more delicious on the tongue than the words "I told you so" directed at a once cocky child.
Giving A Kid A Sense Of Control Isn't Always A Bad Thing
I don't think making your kid wear a jacket perpetuates rape culture or anything, but I think allowing them to make choices about their own body and what goes on it plays into the idea that they are in control of their own body and that's as it should be. I also think that if you give them control over low-stakes things — like whether or not they're going to put on a hoodie on a brisk day — they're less apt to go into "contrarian fighter mode" where they argue about every little thing, whether or not they're particularly invested in the outcome.
Giving Up Control As A Parent Isn't Always A Bad Thing
Admit it: part of this argument is about you not wanting to give up control. I'm not judging! I still wipe my 7-year-old son's face after dinner and even though he is perfectly capable of doing it himself. I get it! For the first several years of our children's lives we need to do everything for them, and that's a need. Like, baby's can't even burp on their own, that's how helpless they are. We must control every aspect of their lives or things go south very quickly. But sometimes, as time goes on, our need for that control outpaces the actual need for us to be in control.
Again, I'm not judging. I've been there. I'm still there pretty often and I'm learning. It's OK, but maybe this whole "to coat or not to coat" argument is a good place to learn to let go a little bit.
Chilly Air Doesn't Make You Sick
Maybe It *Is* Uncomfortable For Them
Maybe that sweater really is itchy! And maybe they will be a little bit chilly without it, but chilly is better than itchy. Let them make that call. Again, circling back to that first point: the stakes are low here!
Makes The Peer Pressure Issue Easier
I feel like this is often a thing on the playground in the spring and autumn, when the weather is sort of in-between and variable. Different parents have different rules about jackets. Some make their kids wear them, others don't, and that can be a whole, "Well Janey's mom isn't making her wear a jacket" thing which, like, you can deal with, certainly, but why? Let's just all agree that we'll let our kids decide whether or not they are going to be chilly (or whether or not they are) and don't worry about what everyone else is doing.
Freedom To Choose Teaches Them To Self-Regulate
In my experience, giving kids the experience of figuring out for themselves when they are more comfortable in a jacket (or when they're perfectly happy to run around jacket free) helps avoid these arguments all together. They learn pretty quickly, "Oh, hey, if it's below 60 I'm going to want that hoodie just like mom suggested! And I know that because I've felt the alternative and it sucks." In other words, let them learn through a little bit of discomfort.
You Mostly Just Make Them Wear A Jacket Because You Don't Want To Be Judged By Other Parents
Like, you don't actually really care, but you see all the other moms insisting their kids keep their jackets on and you're like, "Oh crap! Well, I don't want to be the one negligent mom who isn't doing enough to keep her child healthy," which you know (and we've established) isn't something a slight chill can change anyway, but you still feel the pressure.
Screw it. Either the other moms feel the same way and it's a vicious cycle of being scared of being judged, or they can go ahead and judge all they want because you're doing nothing wrong.
Honestly, It's Just Easier Not To Fight About This
And that, plus all the other reasons I list above? That's a great reason to at least consider doing something. I say lean on into it.