As parents, we have the power to raise the next generation as emotionally healthy, curious, potential leaders of a new human culture – fewer labels, more humans together.
The values provided in the home are the most important influence, even if as adolescents and young adults our children experiment with the values of others for a while. Our experiences growing up literally shape our developing brains and for the best outcomes in life, we need adults around us (at home, at school, in the wider community) who can provide empathy, co-regulation, guidance and boundaries, who will give us experiences of making choices for ourselves and so help us with learning to take the responsibility for the consequences of our choices.
Our patriarchal society is very deep-rooted and has shaped many of us as we have assimilated the stereotypes of the strong male, the weaker female, male leaders, female supporters. As parents, our views, our way of life, the books we read to our children, the stories we tell, the films we expose them to, the model of adult relationships in our family, all develop the habits of feeling, thinking and behaving in our children.
We can focus on “what kind of human do you aspire to be?” rather than “what kind of man/woman do you aspire to be?”
Removing labels such as “feisty girl” or “softer boy” and work towards being able to accept and manage the full range of human emotions comfortably – for that is where flourishing lies.
Why should our boys be poorer communicators? Why should our boys not feel able to express their vulnerabilities?
Why should our girls be overlooked for leadership roles or not put themselves up for these roles in the first place?
As parents, we will have our own unconscious biases from our own upbringing in this society, and we can choose to explore these, reflecting on how we talk to and about others, whether people we see on the TV/news/films, in books, other members of our family, neighbours, other children.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could get to a place where we weren’t having to celebrate “the first woman to…” all the time, but simply able to watch and celebrate the growth of a more equal spread of human beings across all levels. Then growing girls might not have to feel exceptional in order to achieve their dreams.
Let’s #ChooseToChallenge ourselves as the adults in our society, to focus on how we are bringing up our young for a fairer, more equal, human society.
Mary Taylor, Head of Programmes