Teaching Our Children to Stand Strong for Women

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Women Doing Big Things

The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female U.S. Supreme Court justice and fearless champion for women’s rights and gender quality, said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” In this new decade, we have witnessed historic firsts that will undoubtedly continue in the months and years to come. Let me highlight a few of these amazing moments:

  • On January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris became the first woman, first black woman, first Indian American woman, and first daughter of immigrants to be sworn in as the Vice President of the United States of America.
  • Brilliant scientists, Doctors Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna, received the Nobel Peace Prize in Chemistry and Physics for their research on editing DNA in October 2020. This is the first time that two women have received a Nobel Prize, and they are the sixth and seventh women to ever win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  • In November 2020, New Zealand appointed Nanaia Mahuta, a Maori woman, as Foreign Minister. She is the first indigenous woman to hold this position.
  • Kim Ng was named the general manager of the Miami Marlins, the first female and first Asian to serve in this capacity in Major League Baseball.
  • There were multiple firsts for the 2021 Super Bowl. NFL referee Sarah Thomas became the first woman to officiate during a Super Bowl game. Maral Javadifar, assistant strength and conditioning coach, and Lori Locust, assistant defensive line coach, coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2021 Super Bowl. Never have two women coached during an NFL game until now.

Teaching Our Children to Honor Women and Defy Stereotypes

We are steadily entering all the places where decisions are being made, but there is so much work still to do. In 2021 such appointments and positions should have been commonplace, expected, rather than the singular feats only to be attained through herculean efforts. How do we raise our sons to advocate for women’s rights, to do the work towards eliminating the gender pay gap, to amplify the voices of women and resist the patriarchy? How do we instill confidence in our daughters, to not only recognize their worth but to charge for it, to defy archaic gender stereotypes, and to live a life out loud with dreams that see no limits?

Standing Strong for Women

Here are seven tips to prepare our children to fight the misogyny and sexism that continue to plague our nation and our world:

  1. Expose – Expose children to powerful female role models. Read books about girls and women who are changing the world for the better. Books like the Little Leaders Series by Vashti Harrison are a beautifully illustrated resource. Watch movies and documentaries about women in education, sports, law, medicine, and STEM like Hidden Figures and Girl Rising.
  2. Teach – Teach children kindness and compassion. Challenge them to speak up for those who can’t or won’t speak up for themselves whether at school, with friends, or anywhere.
  3. Watch – Watch your language. Eliminate phrases like “boys will be boys” or “you throw like a girl” or “stop crying like a girl” from your vocabulary and theirs too.
  4. Nurture – Nurture the mental health of our kids. Our feelings and emotions are powerful, not to be shamed nor to be ignored but experienced and validated. We should allow our children to feel and navigate their feelings in healthy ways. Emotions are not inherently good or bad; but we have to help them learn how to use them to inform actions and choices but not to be the primary driver of our decisions.
  5. Share – Share in responsibilities to nullify narrow gender roles. Boys and girls help cook and clean, take out the trash, garden, and change tires.
  6. Create – Create opportunities for ongoing conversation around human rights, gender equality, social injustice, and diversity. Failure to talk about “controversial topics” could unintentionally signal that these beliefs are unimportant or problematic. Silence looks a lot like complicity.
  7. Listen – Listen to their words, spoken and unspoken. Listen to their hearts for they are growing, learning, developing — trying to figure out who they are and what they believe, sifting through the barrage of information from peers, social media, books and blogs, teachers, and parents. They need us present and engaged.

Keep your shoes on, though. There’s still so much glass on the floor.

 

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Originally from North Carolina, Dr. Leesha says that her husband, Kenneth, dragged her to Birmingham, kicking and screaming. Now, ten years later, she is proud to call this hidden gem her home. She and Kenneth have been married for almost 17 years and have 3 beautiful, energetic children that keep their lives busy and fulfilling. Dr. Leesha is a double board certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist. She spends her days treating kids and adults with mental illness while juggling marriage, motherhood, and her Dr. Leesha brand. She has a heart for moms, parenting, faith, and mental health and blogs regularly about these topics. Here's to happy, healthy moms raising happy, healthy children.