While Raising Empowered Girls do not forget the Boys
Raising the girl child has become something that seems to need its own type of strategy. You want to raise a child who is confident, who knows that she can be anything that she wants to be. A girl who is not limited by her gender or her sex. We want daughters who know who they are, who feel loved and are secure in their identities. We all strive to do this before the influence of the world has a chance to confuse them with ideals that are not the ones you want to pass on.
While we say all these things and in general we know these are the types of girls we might want to raise, each ideal will differ from parent to parent, mum to mum, culture to culture. When many things compete the only one that will win is the voice that is loudest and most consistent. Ask yourself is your voice the loudest? If you want your child to respect her body and not to think she is validated by what she wears, you cannot leave her at the mercy of music videos that seems to idolise skimpy dressing and raunchy dressing.
Raising the type of child or adult you want starts from home. It is the ideals they learn from home that will shape them the most. Parents and the home setting still have the greatest influence on how a child will turn out. So parents still have the most influence before you point to media, friends or school.
Spending time knowing your child’s temperament and characteristics is necessary so you use the right language suited to your specific child and still achieve your goals as a parent. For example do you have a child who likes to sing? Then expose her to the ideal kind of music you want her to produce and sing. If you are trying to negate the label that “girls are not good at math” then you find fun ways for her to learn math which is possible with several apps and online resources that enable this to happen.
We are doing a good job raising these girls who are being expanded in their minds to know they can do anything they set their minds to, girls who know how to solve problems, girls who know that the world is waiting for the solutions they have to offer.
Let us talk about the boys lest we forget the boys and the men we are raising. Could a reverse be happening where we are focusing so much on raising empowered girls that we forget to raise boys with the right values they need. These are the boys and men that the girls will interact with in class, on the playground, at their job places, make friends with and ultimately marry. Are we remembering to raise the types of men that our daughters will want? The men who are not bullies, men who are not violent, men who love their sisters, friends and wives as human beings with gifts and talents.
Boys are pressured by society, media and other influences that do not necessarily encourage them to be gentlemen of the future. Everything about parenting is mindful and so as we raise our girls to be able to run a home and run the boardroom, we must carry the boys along and raise boys who become the right kind of men. Men who are responsible, God fearing, comfortable in their own skin and truly respect women for who they are.
As we focus on international women’s day and celebrate women in the month of March my pledge for parity is that we should raise girls and boys to become the adults that are ready to face the future together.
So mums and dads as we raise empowered, confident women let us not leave the boys to fend for themselves and craft an identity that is not in line with the ideals you desire.