Every day I send my three children off to school with the same directive:
Be Brave Today. Be Kind Today. Be You Today.
I have two boys and a girl. I don’t change the words of my directive for any of them, even though they are different genders and ages. Lately, though, I’ve been examining the way I lead my three children each day by my actions, as well as my words.
Do I show my daughter how to be both kind and strong?
Do I show her how to speak up for herself in a respectful and powerful way?
Do I show her that she can tell the truth and not be punished?
Do I show her that she is both a princess and a warrior?
I believe I do.
What about my boys?
Do I show them that they are the bravest when they allow themselves to cry because they are hurting?
Do I allow them to talk about their feelings without fear of being called a sissy or being told to man up?
Do I show them that their love of color, art, and music is not something to hide in a world where they are supposed to love only trucks, football, and video games?
Do I show them that they are expected to be kind to all people, including themselves?
I believe I do.
In our world today, we need more kindness. Period.
Not neutrality. Not tolerance. Plain, simple, life-giving kindness.
We can’t pretend that giving girls a stronger voice and finally acknowledging the dirty truth of our society’s patriarchy is enough to bring about the positive change we so desperately need. That is only one side of the coin.
I am a champion of women. I am a champion of girls.
I will forever fight to bring light and truth and honor to the women who are brave enough to stand up and tell the truth.
But if I am to be a champion of women and girls, then I must raise kind, bold boys.
Boys that are not defined by their anger.
Boys that are not defined by their manly conquests.
Boys that are not just snips and snails and puppy dogs tails.
Boys that know little girls are much more than sugar and spice and all things nice.
Over the last decade or so, we have done a great job of helping girls explore topics previously thought to be reserved for the boys. Young girls today can openly dream of becoming a doctor, attorney, engineer or even a software coder. But what about the boys? How many of them can say out loud that they want to be a fashion designer, artist, teacher or nurse?
If we want our girls to truly experience a world without limits, we must intentionally raise boys who know it’s okay to be who they really are, too!
All children are kind, creative, sensitive, funny, brave, strong, and courageous.
Are we grown-ups brave enough to let them be all those things at once, regardless of the color blanket they are wrapped in at their birth?