I’m going to ignore the fact that I’ve been away and go right into the blog part.
A friend of mine shared this article yesterday How to Talk to Little Girls.
If this were part of an article in a parenting magazine, it would fall under the heading “Common Mistakes Parents Make and How to Avoid Them.” Parents complain a lot about what society/media bombards our children with. Photoshopped images, damsels in distress, and 6′ women in a push up bra carrying giant, 80lb angel wings while walking in stilettos as the absolute height of perfection. It does pretty much come from everywhere.
But the sneakiest, most invasive brain washing is coming from us. I am not discounting the media’s impact. But we teach little girls through the way we talk to them. We teach them by watching our own weight and trying to attain exactly what we say we don’t want for our kids. We teach them by complementing their looks and placing value in it. Sure, as parents we need to boost confidence; we can’t ignore what is going on around us. But there is a fine line between “You are a beautiful young woman who is valued in our society for your talent and insight” and “Society values you because you are beautiful.”
But I don’t have girls. I have boys.
I have a responsibility, too. It’s up to Jeff and I to teach our boys that we value women (and men) because of who they are and not how they look, that a girl’s looks does not equal their worth.
I’ll be the first to announce that I have already failed. Or rather, I have made the first step in teaching my 5 year old that we judge a person’s value based on their looks. Max was in a talkative mood (when is he not?) and he was eating cereal and telling me all the gossip from his kindergarten class (apparently P asked L if J was her boyfriend and L said yes!) I asked him who the smartest person was in class and he said K. A little while later he mentioned a little girl in class and there was something really cute about the way he said her name and I asked him he thought she was pretty. He said totally nonchalant “yeah she’s pretty, she’s a girl.”
I didn’t ask if she was nice, or if she was smart like K, my first (and only) question about the little girl was whether or not Max thought she was pretty. And this, is step one in sneaky, unintentional, “pretty is better” brainwashing. It came out of my mouth before I even thought about it. Things so small, they seem like they don’t matter. The very first conversation about-who-is-who’s boyfriend in kindergarten (oh, and for an update, J totally didn’t want a girlfriend, because girlfriends are gross. So S is now L’s boyfriend. S is ok with that.)
So, while I’m not about to beat myself up over it, I have some things I’ve already started that I need to undo. I’m thankful that my friend passed this article on. I probably would have a lot more to undo if she hadn’t.