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So what if it’s used?

My brother’s ex generously hands down her daughter’s old clothes to our daughter, but my husband won’t accept them. How can I convince him?

Our elder has a few strategies to help him see sense.

Dear EWC

My brother’s ex wife has a daughter a few years older than my daughter (who is three). She’s very generous and saves tons of her daughter’s clothes for me to let my little girl wear. My husband hates that our daughter is wearing secondhand clothes. These are not crummy clothes! In fact, quite a few have tags still on them, and a lot of them are name brand (Polo, Tommy, etc.). But he still doesn’t like that we’re getting them from a person who doesn’t use them anymore. It’s not about who we get them from, whether they’re clean, used, or what. It’s purely because they’re “used”. I’ve tried compromises like possibly keeping just the ones that have tags still on them, or letting her keep just some. We’re not poor, really, but we don’t have the money to be getting her these kinds of clothes. Personally, I’d like to be able to dress my daughter in nice clothes like these either by being able to buy them (I can’t, though) or whether it’s by being given them. My husband doesn’t really buy her a lot of clothes and the ones we’ve bought her are starting to look drab. And why wouldn’t he want her to look good?! The point: How can I convince him to let me keep them for her?

Folk replies

I raised eight children and was always grateful when friends and neighbors passed their own children’s outgrown clothing on to me, so I am as baffled as you are by your husband’s refusal to allow your daughter to wear her cousin’s good quality hand-me-downs. But without knowing what your husband’s real objection is to your daughter’s wearing these nice clothes, it’s hard to know how to convince him to change his mind. In other words, before you can persuade him to allow your daughter to wear her cousin’s clothes, you first have to figure out what bothers him so much about her doing so.
You say it’s not about who you get the clothes from or whether they’re clean — that he doesn’t want her to wear them simply because they are used. But you also say that some of the items your brother’s ex gives you still have their original tags on them and have obviously never been worn — and that he objects to your daughter wearing these too. This makes me think that maybe it’s a pride thing. Maybe your husband feels that accepting the clothes from your brother’s ex (or anybody else) is the same as accepting charity. Maybe he feels that by offering your daughter clothing she no longer has any use for, she is insulting him in a way — implying that he’s not a good provider. If this is the case, you could try mentioning that she is really just trying to be helpful. She just wants to put her daughter’s gently used clothing to good use by passing it along to someone she cares about.

You could also try commenting to your husband about the large number of vintage and consignment shops that sell used clothing for good money. Lots of people who could afford to buy new clothing for themselves and their kids actually prefer to save money by buying used clothing instead. Maybe you could try appealing to your husband by suggesting that you and he put the money you save by not having to buy new clothing for your daughter into an education account for her future use. An education, after all, is way more important than a wardrobe of new clothes that she will outgrow in no time.

If you think that your husband really does object simply to the fact that the clothing your brother’s ex passes on is used, you could ask him if he feels the same way about buying a “used” car that someone else has driven or a “used” house that someone else has lived in or using plates and utensils at restaurants that a lot of other people have also “used.”
I hope you are able to change your husband’s mind, but in the end, it really comes down to what he feels. We all have idiosyncrasies and maybe wearing “used” clothing is one of those things that your husband feels a little irrationally about. If so, it’s probably best to accept his objection for what it is — a quirk — and let it go.

Letter #: 446492
Category: Marriage

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