Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Excuse me? What did you say?

I shouldn't judge any one else's parenting. Obviously I'm not perfect either. Vedder still sleeps with me every night. Every. Night. He eats only bow tie pasta for lunch and dinner every day. Every. Day. And probably 100 other things that I do "wrong" or differently than other parents. So I try really hard not to judge. 

This is so difficult for me. Mainly because I was a teacher before being a mom, so judging parents was like part of the job. Now being a parent I realize, this shit ain't easy. 

However, one way to get me to judge you real fast as a parent is letting me hear the way you speak to your child. I am far from calm and cool all the time. But if ANYTHING, the way I parent can be described in one quote :

"The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice." 

So you can imagine my judgement when I heard a mom say to her maybe ten year old son, "Stop whining. Jeez. You should have been a girl with all the complaining you do." 

Umm what? Mom, you are a woman, which means you were once a girl. So this type of statement is baffling to me. However, the more I thought about it the more infuriated I became. Not only does this statement make your son feel inferior, it makes him feel so because it states that the opposite sex in a way is inferior. In a world where gender identity and equality is still so not equal, I am so confused as to why a parent, especially a mother, would put such a bold and loaded statement like this into her child's brain. Now the whole whining aspect is not what I am concerned about. Do I know women who whine? Plenty! I am a whiner myself. Do I know men that do it as well? Tons! Whining is not the issue here, Dude. 

The issue is that some parents don't realize the extent of what they say and how it may resonate throughout the rest of their child's life. Saying this type of thing to your son will now give him the feeling that he has the right to say this to others. Like other women. Or other men. Continuing the cycle that girls are inferior to boys because they whine and boys that whine aren't men and no one is equal. 

This may seem like a long stretch to some but it is statements like this why we as a society don't see everyone as equal. I have had children in my class refuse to play with toys because they were a certain color. "Pink is for girls. You can't play with that." "I can play with this baby because he has a blue shirt on right? So that means this baby is for boys to play with?" Really. I come across these comments/questions more often than you can imagine. Three and four year olds gender stereotyping toys, and essentially categorizing each other as different instead of equals. Three and four year olds! No child comes to their own conclusion of colors identifying gender at this young of an age. It is all implanted thoughts from their environment. 

We, as parents, are our child's first and most important teacher. The way we live our lives, the way we treat others, the beliefs we have, our children see all of these things and look up to them. The way we talk to our children is the way they will learn to talk to others.  

Like I said, I am far from a perfect parent. There is no such thing. But one thing I vow to do it alway encourage him (and every student that enters my classroom) to express his feeling and himself as he sees fit and for him to always encourage others to do the same. I like to think that one day, kind words, encouragement and acceptance will become the norm and everything else will just seem silly. 

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