Am I the only one who reads t-shirt slogans or do you do it, too? It can be quite entertaining – not just seeing the people, but reading the slogans on their shirts.

For example, in about 20-minutes while waiting for a flight at Orlando’s airport, I saw lots of children wearing shirts declaring they had just been to one of the Disney properties. I also walked by many sports fans and adults proclaiming their allegiance to certain universities. I also read these slogans:

  • Sarcastic moment loading – please wait
  • Messy hair – I don’t care
  • I did not hit you – I just high-fived your face
  • Just an average guy serving an awesome hero
  • I am not with her
  • Don’t work
  • Smile today
  • Today’s outfit (I laughed out loud when reading this one.)

If you’re still buying school clothes and as you continue to do so throughout the year, consider their messages. I think slogans influence the identity of the wearer. Not all t-shirt slogans and messages on other clothes are a big deal, but they can be. I know when I wear a Celebrate Kids shirt, I’m aware of the message. (We don’t have many left in stock, but they declare “Kids have present value, not just future potential.” and “We were created on purpose with purpose.”)

Our shirts remind children and adults of a positive identity. So does the one that declares smile today. What about the teen wearing the shirt that shouted Don’t Work? Every time he looked in the mirror, he was reminded not to work. Messages matter.

Some slogans are harmless, but some aren’t. They can influence people in positive and negative ways. And, because we’re influenced by people’s reactions to us and how they interact with us, they matter.  When reading the slogan above, I did not hit you – I just high-fived your face, how did you respond? Do you want to know this person? If you needed to talk with him for some reason, what might your initial interactions be like?

Let’s look at a positive example. I asked the teen boy wearing the hero shirt about it. After he got over the shock that I cared, he enjoyed telling me about his church youth group service project that the slogan represented. I enjoyed affirming him and his choice to make Jesus his hero. (It’s not hard to encourage teens. Make that a priority today.)

When we purchase clothes for others, we can communicate beliefs and expectations As a positive example, I still work out in my hot pink Got Hope? t-shirt. On the back, it proclaims I do. My mom purchased this for me during one of her bouts with cancer. I still remember our conversation about hoping in God vs. hoping in a cure. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wearing the shirt because of its message and its connection to my mom.

On the negative side, if a mom purchased the shirt that shouts, Don’t Work, for the teen boy wearing it, she sent a negative message to a child she should be speaking life into. And, I would suggest that if the child chose it and the mom didn’t object, it sends the same message.

Parents need to choose their battles. Therefore, sometimes letting kids wear what they want is right. But, because messages influence identity and identity causes behavior, sometimes it is a big deal. We can say something like, “Let me tell you why I don’t want you to buy and wear the I’m not with her shirt. It’s not who you are. You’re friendly and concerned about bullying. That’s not what that shirt says. It’s not you.”

Imagine how my friend, Nicole, felt when shopping with her children and seeing a daughter choose this shirt: You can sit with us If you guessed Nicole felt good and proud, you’re right.

As always, thanks for reading my blog. What are you going to do with these ideas? Think more about them? Talk with your children? Clean out your t-shirt drawer? Ask your children if they’d like to clean out theirs? I’d love to know.