This world is a crazy, toxic, and sometimes feels like a hopeless place. But, it really isn’t. Or even more so, you have the ability to make it a more hopeful place. If you are expecting a child, are expecting to expect a child in the future, or have a child, the way you raise your child is your contribution to the future. You could raise a Malala, or a Trump, both affecting the present in drastically different ways.
To get to the point, simply put, a feminist is someone who believes in equal rights and opportunities for women and men alike. This doesn’t mean that they see women and men as the same, but they see them as equals.
Now if you have had the misfortune of meeting a little boy or worse, a grown man who thinks he’s entitled to being served food on the table, or making the decisions, or ‘I’m stronger than her because she’s a girl’, you know the guy. Or a girl, or a woman who believes her whole and sole purpose in life is to serve the man, and you really just knock some sense into these people, literally and figuratively, what do you do? Besides having a productive discussion with them, you can make sure that when you are bestowed the responsibility of shaping a mind, you do it right.
1. Do not conform to stereotypes
Gender awareness begins at the age of two and a half years. And here is when children begin calling out their peers for gender non-conformity in terms of clothing, toys, length of their hair. This is when you challenge their language, to question why they think a certain toy or piece of clothing can decide what gender the child is. Absolutely refrain from using language like ‘don’t cry like a girl’ or ‘be strong like a boy’. This may be uncomfortable for the parent if you’re expecting the boy to be stronger, your daughter to be girlier, but it’s time to put your expectations aside, and focus on raising happier, more confident children.
- Raise more empathetic, emotionally intelligent children
In my opinion, children that are empathetic on their own understand equality because equality isn’t simply a political or economical issue, it is an issue of mentalities and mind sets. It is based upon ideas that have been occupying the minds of people over the centuries that have created a divide. Teaching children how their actions may affect another, recognising their own feelings and emotions, and considering how another person might feel in varying situations makes such a huge difference. This is a value that needs to be cultivated. Teach by setting an example, and have conversations. Discuss how you could’ve done better, show that you can be flawed too, so they are comfortable enough to acknowledge and right their wrongs.
- Respect them, and their boundaries
This is far from saying you let them do whatever they please, however, if there is something your child isn’t comfortable with, then there is no need to force it. This is so important when it comes to touch, don’t insist that your child hug or kiss a relative if they do not want to. They are allowed to say no. They need to be taught that when it comes to touch, they have the right to say no. Nobody can touch them unless given permission to.
There is so much that can affect a child, so many mistakes you can make, but you can also do a wonderful job, create a wonderful relationship, nurture a wonderful human. So, if you make a mistake, apologise.