I recently read an opinion editorial, posing the question as to how to raise daughters, in what the writer called a "highly gender divisive" culture. From this writer's experience, being a woman still made it difficult to compete for jobs, positions, even the right to not be whistled at, via the digital version of walking past a work site, on social media sites. She ventured to ask, have we really made leaps, in terms of how women are treated, viewed, and given equal opportunity as men.
In a culture where it is difficult to make it one week without a gender-geared scandal stealing our attention, I'm finding myself struggling as to how to have these conversations with my children. If I truly adopt the motto - "talk early, talk often" - I need to be brave and see these cultural trends as talking points.
But, what is appropriate for their age?
How much of my opinion will be beneficial for them?
And, what will our culture be facing, when my babies are making important decisions, possibly helping to shape their children's futures.
If we are passionate, as parents, about doing the hard thing and initiating conversation, especially when it's uncomfortable, we have to be just as passionate about opening conversation in this area of gender perspective. Don't be afraid - I'm not going to use this venue to possibly open up heated and confusing topics, but I do believe there are some good starting points we can walk through, with our kids, helping them make sense of the for-sure topics they are hearing about, be at school or social media.
> Where do we, as a family, receive our perspective on gender roles, responsibilities, and
> Have you ever felt you were being talked down to or made lower by someone, because of
> What does it mean, to you, to be a strong and confident boy?
> What does it mean, to you, to be a strong and confident girl?
> Is there anything that we, as your parents, can do better, to make sure you never feel your
perspective is not valued?
Obviously, if you have "littles", like I do, changing the vocabulary will be necessary, but I still feel there is extreme value in letting our children know, regardless of age, that who they are is exactly who they were created to be. Their perspective of who they are is valid and is important enough for us to talk through, with them. Sharing our insecurities and struggles with who we are will take them farther than any victory of ours, we make sure they see.
Authenticity and time is key here. This won't be a conversation that we have one time and check off the list. As with every issue that needs to be revisited, let's make it a priority to take these things that can seem culturally overloaded and settle in, showing our children that the most precious parts of them - in this case, their gender - is of the utmost importance and will be handled with the utmost of care.
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