When it comes to raising your children ‘properly’, there are a million books, blogs, and critiques. Although there are endless opinions, there are a few common generalities that most would agree on; one being respect and good manners. As you’re aware, there are still some gaps between boys and girls concerning stereotypes and gender roles. Some of you may not be aware that this still a problem in 2017! We want our sons and daughters to grow up in safe, unbiased environments – but once they leave the house to go to school, it’s all up in the air. So, I’m authoring this blog to help you teach your children ‘good manners’ and respect for everyone around them, even when situations may be difficult.
When we think about kids and how we want to raise them, what comes to your mind? Pause and have a moment of thought. When I think about this, I want our sons to grow up respecting women and I want our daughters to grow up being confident and strong. But are we raising them with these goals in mind? Society sure isn’t helping at all, but are your spouses, parents, friends, neighbors, community? If you’re unsure of your answer, take a step back and assess your child’s surroundings.
Teaching Children to Respect Everyone Even in Difficult Situations
When raising a girl, a few terrifying thoughts may come to mind; gender discrimination, glass ceilings, sexual assault, catcalling, pay inequality, objectification, body image struggles, and conformity. While there’s a lot you can teach your daughter to overcome and stay clear of these issues, there’s more in raising our sons to be respectful and supportive of woman.
When raising our children, we want to be sure to follow the golden rule – MODEL THE BEHAVIOR. Make sure the adult men in the house are treating a woman in the house with respect. Any other male adults, such as uncles, friends, and grandfathers should be modeling the same behavior. Any female adults within the family should have standards that they are comfortable with and be able to speak out when they feel a line has been crossed. This goes for jokes at their expense, conversations, and behaviors.
How many of us have heard the saying ‘boys don’t cry’? All of us is my guess. We all know this is untrue and a terrible concept to be teaching our young children. We want them to be able to express their feelings just as much as girls. Teach our boys to listen. Be present when they’re communicating with you and validate their feelings. Allow them to express and show him that you’re always there to hear them out. This guidance will allow your baby boy to replicate it and do the same for others in the future. It also creates a positive emotionally outlet, where they feel safe.
Teach your children to be sensitive to others and their problems. Have them listen and help when others are in need. It is important to be there for friends, family, and strangers alike when we’re in a position to do so. This can be on the playground, at school, after a friend’s hardship or even in their own future relationships.
Teach your son to be engaged in household chores, all of them. There is no such thing as a chore for boys and a chore for girls. Everyone is equally able to do each of the chores – so rotate. Teach your children that everyday housework is to be shared so they grow up helping and expecting help. This goes for cooking as well. Boys will need to know how to cook for themselves as well as others. Allow your children in the kitchen when preparing meals and have them help out in safe ways; teach them everything you know! They will love it. Get your husbands, dads and uncles into the kitchen as well and helping with housework. Make sure the male figures are on board with sharing household responsibilities equally.
Break free from using derogatory language. Never put down the opposite sex or use it as an excuse in front of your children. Some unconscious examples might be ‘you threw that like a girl’ or ‘you can’t play with that, it’s for boys’. Regardless of gender, children can play with whatever toys they like. Girls can play any sport a boy can – consider sports that your children are interested in, regardless of gender.
As your children get older, make them aware of the history of women’s struggles and successes. From voting, to working, to fighting for equal pay. Have open and respectful conversations about any problems going on in society, including all demographics. Make sure all conversations are truthful and don’t place blame on anyone, just how to overcome situations that may arise.
Lastly, make sure your children are aware that they can do anything. Even now, if it seems impossible, there will be a first to do it. With the right guidance and support, your child will accomplish anything he or she has their heart set on.