it is hard to parent this week.
It’s hard to focus. Difficult to not check my phone for updates and news conferences. Tricky to keep from crying and being otherwise emotionally snarled. It is so hard to stay relaxed about our world and what the future may look like for our children when the news looks like this. This crazy election cycle, the Stanford rapist horror, and now, the deadliest civilian mass shooting in U.S. history.
It’s hard to take. Really hard. I’m tired, and very sad.
I often feel powerless in these situations, but I also I don’t want to do nothing. So I’m going to give blood this week, send money to my local LGBTQ rights organization, write this article, and vote in November no matter how bad things look.
Because I’m also angry. So angry.
But instead of ranting, I’m going to look through my parent education lens and I wonder, “How can parenting differently help?” Well, it seems it always can. It seems no matter what problem sits before me, I can find a way to help through parenting. I try to think of a way to “love first” when it comes to raising children. With that positive action in mind, here are five ways you can parent against misogyny and hate:
- Watch for your own prejudices. Talk to your children about privilege and power imbalances. Don’t assume a heteronormative or ethnocentric stance. Talk about race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. When you speak about whiteness, the gender binary, and heterosexuality as if they exist in a vacuum and are “the norm,” (or ignore them completely which sends the exact same message), you perpetuate dichotomy and implicit bias. This leads to seeing differences as “other,” which diminishes people’s value and humanity.
- Parent against gender bias. This is still much more socially acceptable for girls than boys. That’s why I wrote about changing the culture of masculinity, and can’t wait to watch this important documentary: The Mask We Live In. Our culture’s gender norms hurt children. In her important book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, Kate Stone Lombardi notes that a growing tide of modern mothers are helping their sons to be stronger by keeping them close and helping them gain important EQ (Emotional Intelligence) skills. These are skills we ALL need to get along with each other.
- Model good boundaries. When we set firm limits with children, we’re demonstrating what boundaries should look like. When we respect small growing people, we lay the foundation for consent. When we are clear about where we end and they begin, and allow emotional expression, we help them understand that their strong, messy feelings are A-OK with us. Closeness and intimacy does not necessitate emotional merging and they are not responsible for our feelings.
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