Friday, March 8, 2013

People, Time Has Come To Parent Up!

Today is International Women's Day, which is a national holiday in many countries including: China, Russia, and Afghanistan. The day is designed to celebrate and push forward the rights and place of women in society. Instead of going on about what is needed to ensure the safety, let alone the education and advancement of women in other countries, I'm going to focus on the state of how parents raise children that makes this day even necessary.

As I see it we only need this sort of day to start with because Mothers and Fathers have raised children that oppress, rape, demean, kill, and let's even take it to the basics... bully other people.

For the last week there has been big buzz in the publishing, business, and social media worlds about Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer. Are they good role-models, good feminists, good bosses? The press on Ms. Sandberg and her new book Lean In and the movement she is trying to launch with it is hostile enough. No wonder few women leaders want to start these important conversations. Does she have all the answers- of course not. But, is she trying to be part of the solution- hell yes!

People assume that things are the way they are in business because it's a man's world and part of the criticism regarding Lean In is that women should change the rules vs play by already established (read: men's) rules. To me the only way to build in velocity and real change for women's equality is for women to stop raising weak daughters and sexist sons. And this goes for fathers too!

For the life of me I can't understand how anyone, let alone mothers, can give money and still support a church that only allows male leaders and let's many of them commit or cover up child rape. But people still raise there children to respect that sort of institution. Same thing with business, violence as entertainment, etc.

If in our homes we raise the children to believe that daddy is the boss, the bread winner, the decider- what message do we send both our daughters and sons? Misogynist men don't create themselves. And women aren't the only ones who want this to change. The great majority of men out there don't want to be around these guys either and aren't happy with the conditions the women they love have to put up with. Real men know true manning up means respecting yourself enough to treat women with respect.

Now women who allow abuse, either verbal or physical, in their homes send a strong message about what girls should put up with and what boys have the right to do. Men who treat their wives (or employees) poorly show their sons they don't need to respect women and their daughters it's ok to be second class citizens. It's as blatant as alluding to how much more important of a job he has, or that money from his job is more important then what Mommy does.... or as subtle as the emphasis on boys' sports games vs daughters' activities. There are loving parents who don't realize the differing messages they send their kids.

If we want the world to treat women better and as equals we need to start with raising kids with respect for all. Teach our daughters to stick up for themselves; and sons to treat themselves, and their future wives and daughters with the same respect their fathers and mothers treated each other with. 

We have a sexists, violent, unequal world because the parents of generations past did a shitty job. Unfortunately, they probably did the best they could with what they were taught as well.

Fortunately, we now know and can do better. We can raise our kids, teach our students, supervise our staffs, interact with our neighbors in a way the next generation will learn from and will make this day a thing of the past. 

So Men: treat all women and as you'd like someone to treat your daughter one day. Women: stop looking up to men who are looking down on you- in any arena; and treat yourself as you'd want someone to treat your daughter as an equal. 

In full equality with our partners let's create a family plan to address how we want all our children raised, how we'll treat each other, and how we'll expect our children to carry a message of respect for all out into the world and into the families they create for themselves.  

The best way to celebrate Women (and Men) is to Parent Up!

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