Parenting is hard. Being an adult and still understanding the culture and mindset of children is hard.
Trying to cultivate a generation of children who grow into well-adjusted adults and make the world less screwed up is…well, let’s just hope it can be more than a fantasy.
I’m not saying we’re screwing kids up from the get go, but…in some ways, we kind of are.
Those common bits of wisdom you hear from well-intentioned parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/family friends might be doing more harm than good.
1. “If he’s mean to you, that means he likes you!” Do not teach your boys that to show affection is to cause pain.
Teach your boys that to show affection is to be kind. Teach them gentleness. Teach them love.
Pulling hair and throwing rocks are not an acceptable way to love.
There are more than enough men in the world who think violence is an acceptable part of a relationship, don’t let your son join their ranks.
At the same time, teach your girls not to accept cruelty as a sign of affection. Let them know they deserve respect and that anyone who wants their affections damn well better show it to them.
Teach your daughters to reject any kind of love that comes coupled with a willingness to inflict pain.
Teach your children that friendships and love are born out of mutual kindness and that they should give and accept nothing less.
2. “That’s a girl’s/boy’s toy!” Let’s clear this up right now: There is no such thing as a “girl’s toy” or a “boy’s toy.”
There are just things that are arbitrarily marketed toward one gender or the other, leaving children feeling isolated and vulnerable to bullying if they don’t fall in line with what’s expected of them.
Girls are not the only ones who will grow up to be parents, so let boys play with dolls and learn to nurture.
Boys are not the only ones who might someday need to fight for a good cause, so give girls all the superheroes they want.
Regardless of your child’s gender, encourage them to be the person they want to be and pursue the interests that make them happy.
Enough of us grew up with some degree of shame that we should really know better by now.