In its regularly scheduled segment featuring "Heroic Acts and Kindness," HLN's Weekend Express profiled a dad who is proving that parenting should be about supporting your children, no matter who they are or how they present.
After Seth Menachem wrote a heartfelt piece at Huffington Post titled "My Son Wears Dresses, and That's OK With Me," the Los Angeles-based writer and father of two made the media rounds to defend his parenting style.
When HLN's Lynn Berry speculated that it was "more difficult" for Menachem to allow his 2-year-old son, Asher, to pick dresses to wear than it was to give in to his 4-year-old daughter's insistence on flowing frocks, Menachem politely corrected the host.
"I don't know if it was difficult for me," he explained on Thursday. "I think it was difficult for everyone else who saw him out in dresses. And there was a part of me that felt uncomfortable with it, mainly because I thought that people assumed that I had some kind of agenda, sticking my kid in a dress, rather than the truth, which was: he enjoyed wearing dresses, he thought they were fun…"
Menachem recounts an instance he discussed in his HuffPost article where he tried to convince his son to wear shorts to a party, because he was so concerned about what party-goers might think.
"While he was crying, he was screaming, I realized, I was making a big deal over something that I didn't even care about. So I decided in that moment, I would allow him to wear dresses."
Responding to public response about his decision — and those who couch their discomfort in concerns that allowing Asher to wear dresses would set the child up to be bullied or confused, Menachem reminds viewers that his son is just 2 years old.
"If he were a cross-dresser, or if he were gay, or if he were experimenting in some way, or felt transgender, that I in no way wanted to be the type of parent who was not allowing him to express himself."
Menachem isn't alone in his decision to support his son's sartorial selections, despite consternation from community members. In 2012, a German father made headlines for sporting a skirt through West Berlin to support his son who loved wearing dresses. Dyson Kilodavis's parents went a step father, giving their dress-wearing son the loving honorific "My Princess Boy," then writing a children's book with the same title to support and affirm other boys who preferred skirts, and the parents who support them. Just this year, Advocate contributor Yuvi Zalkow wrote about his own experience coming to terms with his son's preference for dresses.
Watch Menachem's HLN interview below.