A couple of things got me thinking this week, firstly Alice put together an amazing article on raising a feminist and reading through the article, listening to some youtube videos that she listened too and reading her research put me in quite a reflective frame of mind. Secondly the day after we watched the brilliant Reggie Yates documentary, Men at War, I’m not going to give too much away but it really is worth a watch, albeit with a glass of wine in one hand and a donut or other snack of your choice in the other as its going to make you angry. Just a quick side not, if you have not watched Reggie’s other documentaries then they really are worth a watch as are Billie JD Porters, both well on point and on the pulse of how I perceive the world.
So writing this im angry and reflecting on so much around feminism or maybe more so about attitudes towards women. i have previously vented about having to reign in my tendencies to swear a lot now that Etta is aware and the best mimic I have ever come across. So i am trying to be more mindful but its also so difficult as there is so much more going on on a subconscious behavoiral level that we don’t ever realize that she is learning and copying from us.
As fathers we think about how to raise a boy into a respectful well rounded man and we worry about protecting our daughters from all the awful men out there. I know i was one of them once upon a time, not to say I was a heartbreaker but I didn’t consider feelings an awful lot and I know i wasn’t the most respectful either. We all learn from our mistakes and our parents mistakes, its these mistakes that form the basis of parenting and trying to create a better environment for our minis than we had ourselves.
Again this got me thinking some more, I told you I was in a reflective mood, about Etta and how I would protect her from any hurt in her life from anyone male or female and then the penny dropped. “Daughters marry their father” and the way that we can make a difference to the choices that they will make in their lives, is to demonstrate how men treat women and how to respect one another. This means being mindful of how we speak to one another, mothers and fathers sharing the parenting, the chores and generally being respectful of one another. How often do we all comment on Eastenders or a movie “oh what a bitch” comes out of my mouth far too often and from today onwards it wont pass my lips.
im not trying to say I have the answers and we all do what we can to raise our children in the best way possible. somedays it wont work out but we have to make more effort. We have to keep dialogue with our children and explain to them why things are said and why we shouldn’t say other things. Boys and girls are equal, Etta will have the choice of ballet and football, cooking or climbing a tree. Its down to her, she has dinosaurs and dollies and plays with both equally, she’s the most girly girl pink loving tomboy I know and its taken a whole lot of effort to give her those choices and to dress her in blue and pink and any shade in-between.
This doesn’t just apply one way, we are not going to give her any leeway because she is a girl, no head starts in a race against her boy friends and certainly we have no expectations of what she wants to be in life. Our sons and daughters are children and should have the same opportunities to best equip them to make the right choices, sure there will be bad choice but this is where we have to talk to them on a level and explain why choices are made.
In summary I know I am writing this from dad’s point of view and its old fashioned talking about my daughter marrying a man but it applies to whomever she marries, male or female or even if she decides to battle the world on her lonesome. She’s 19m old and already is taking in so much more than I give her credit for and I have started this lesson too late already.