Please raise your kids to be decent human beings.As someone with no children of her own, I am begging you: teach your little ones to be kind and considerate. The world is a dark enough place; we need future generations to be better than the present one.
For the record, I'm not making this plea while sitting idle. I promise to follow my own advice.If I have a baby boy someday, I swear I'll try my absolute best to teach him to respect others. I will use every opportunity to show him this world does not revolve around him. He needs to know that other people deserve fair treatment; regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation, they are still humans. They are not pawns in his own little game. They deserve communication and consideration, even when the easy way out would involve "ghosting" them (in the dating world), or rating them (as one particular presidential nominee proudly boasted doing), or teasing them (for being different), or judging them (based on ethnicity or socio-economic status).
We often give SO many social graces to boys. We make excuses for them, and coin cute little phrases like "boys will be boys" to justify deplorable behavior.As a parent, I will defy these social norms. What separates us from animals is the ability to make conscious social decisions. Do boys mature more slowly than girls? Perhaps. But thank goodness they have a brain. And a soul. Let's hold them to a higher standard, instead of writing off their selfishness and deliberate objectification of others as a product of "delayed maturity."
See, women are not given social graces. Some would argue that we females have been granted, by nature, a set of powerful hormones which rise and fall without our consent. However, if we EVER step out of line (even briefly!), we are labeled crazy. Temperamental. Psycho. Needy, clingy, bipolar.It's so easy to accuse females of being insane. I hear it all the time. Boys are told they're "wild at heart," and immature because of their genetic makeup, and hunters by nature. They're basically allowed to be self-centered assholes because of certain genetic traits. Meanwhile, women are humiliated and ostracized if we use the same tactic...even on a much smaller scale.
Phew. Well, it feels good to finally articulate the uneven scales. The double standard isn't just real, it's dangerous.Please don't misunderstand; I believe there are plenty of amazing men in the world. There are males who don't make excuses or blame others or act as though the entire universe should bow down to them. I am extremely proud to know such men, including my father. Decent, selfless men certainly do exist. I vow to try my best to raise one...if life leads me down the motherhood path.
Now, if I someday have a baby girl, I will show her that her worth runs far deeper than her skin. Contrary to what the media, pop culture and certain political figures may tell her, her value does not hinge solely upon her sex appeal.I'll gladly expose her to strong figures, both male and female, who have declared that all humans ought to be treated as such. Whether you love or hate Hillary's political agenda, I hope you'll find truth to her emphatic assertion that "women's rights are human rights." Amen. People deserve to be treated as people. Not objects. Not a set of walking genitals. End of story.
This hypothetical baby girl of mine will be subjected to lots of strong, empowering lyrics; I'll sing her songs like Alessia Cara's "Scars to your Beautiful." Kudos to Alessia, for challenging the music industry and simultaneously reminding women they are more than a half-naked, gyrating dancer in some music video.She can't see she's perfect
She can't understand she's worth it
And that beauty goes deeper than the surface...
So to all my girls hurting
Let me be your mirror,
Help you see a little bit clearer
The light that shines within...
I'll also share my own painful journey with this potential child of mine. I will show her photos from my college days, when I weighed 107 lbs (ten pounds less than the average supermodel my same height). I'll talk about the most difficult subject in the world for me, the one I often avoid discussing because it's so traumatic to recall those tortured years of my life.I will inform her that her beauty lies not in her face or her body or her relevance to men. No, her beauty is based on the quality of her character...and it is eternal.
She will never wonder if she's loved. I'll do everything in my power to ensure she doesn't seek admiration from anyone looking to exploit or use her.I hope my babygirl never aspires to be like all the actresses and singers who hyper-sexualize themselves in an attempt to gain power or make money. Power attained through degradation is not true power. She will hopefully see the value of utilizing her various talents to influence and help others. I’ll try to show her that intelligence is beautiful, too. Courage is sexy. Compassion is alluring.
So, whether I have a male or female child, I want the little one to understand that merit is not attained by placing oneself higher than others. There's absolutely NOTHING honorable about knocking others down. Or using others to elevate your own status. Or fitting into the stereotypical role society has assigned to you.Instead, I'll encourage my children to treat others well. And love themselves thoroughly.
It's such a simple concept.Raising kids is a gamble. There's no guarantee things will go according to plan. Admittedly, it's easy for me to judge, since I have no children of my own.
But when I get my master's in social work, and I'm helping strangers on a regular basis, I plan to employ all these tactics. As a society, we are incredibly broken. This is evidenced by the fact that we have let a hateful, misogynistic, racist man become a presidential candidate. I am truly ashamed of our country. And our world, for that matter. I plan to make small changes in any way I can.
As parents, you have the opportunity to raise good humans. Sure, it's far easier to cater to children...or ignore them...or baby them. It’s far more convenient to teach them to look the other way when powerful leaders degrade certain sectors of the population.
But I'm begging you to do the right thing, instead of the easy thing. I'm counting on you. The world is counting on you. So are your kids.