It’s a cliche, isn’t it? Positive parenting. Most of us don’t set out to parent negatively, so I guess this catch phrase is really about being intentionally positive with our kids.
Since attending the Melinda Tankard Reist talk (see that post here) it has been on my mind as to how we, as parents, can really make a difference in teaching our children about positive, healthy self image and boundaries.
What we as parents can do wasn’t mentioned much during her talk, and I came away with a mixture of extreme concern for my children and more than a slight sense of helplessness. And it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you see all the statistics and evidence.
As parents, surely we are the first port of call in our children’s lives. Surely we have the most influence, at least in their pre-teen and early adolescent lives. So, we must be able to do something to stop the onslaught of false body image and objectification of women, in particular, raining down on our children.
I have been mulling it over since then, and while there are certainly no easy or foolproof answers, there must be ways we can make a difference.
This is what I’ve come up with so far:
Be interested – take an interest in your children, in their friends, their activities. Get a facebook account and make it a stipulation that they are your ‘friend’, ‘friend’ their friends too.
Be diligent – don’t take your foot off the pedal and set the cruise control button. Pay attention to what they are listening to, reading and watching on youtube and TV.
Be available – life is busy and sometimes we need to mentally schedule time in for our kids. Don’t let life fool you into giving most of your time to the material instead of your kids.
Be an example – Fathers, do you make veiled sexual comments about women you pass on the street or see on TV? Mothers, do you complain about your body, say you are ugly and focus too much on how you look? Your children are watching.
We can make a difference.
Collectively, we can boycott stores that stock sexually objectifying merchandise, we can sign petitions, we can write to CEO’s of companies – we can do much to change how society views women and make a stand.
We can try to change the society so our kids don’t have to live with it as it is but we can also raise children to be adults who simply refuse to buy, figuratively and literally, into the lies about the value of women and how they should be perceived. Society, and large corporations, will have no choice but to change too.
And don’t worry if the parents of your child’s friends aren’t making a stand with their kids. Go against the flow…after all, isn’t that exactly what we are trying to teach our children to do?