At Babe we talk a lot about feminism and raising kids who are down with the cause. This idea transcends the sexes. On one hand, we want our daughters to grow up to become hell raising, trailblazing feminists, but we also want our sons to be there marching right alongside with them, blazing trails of their own in the equality conversation. But just how do you raise the next generation of feminists? Fortunately, the mothers over at UN Women wrote a blog post about this very subject on Medium, the gist of which we transcribed below.
1) Talk about Equality.
Embrace talking to your littles about gender equality and women’s rights, even before you think it’s necessary. Every time you bring up equality between the sexes and what still needs to be done in our quest for a gender neutral world, you’re setting them up to lead the way for a better future for everybody.
2) Share the WORK.
From cooking and cleaning, to working AND caring for the babes, women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men. This can result in thousands of women and girls missing out on equal opportunities of going to school, or joining full-time paid work. Set the example early by equally dividing all housework and childcare in your home. Involve boys in care work and household chores from an early age, along with girls!
3) Embrace diverse role models.
Role models come in all shapes, sizes, genders, skin tones and cultural backgrounds. Encourage your children to embrace diversity by presenting them with various role models from different genders, ethnicity and colors.
4) Empower your kids to speak out.
Young people around the world are stepping up for gender equality. When we empower and educate young advocates about women’s rights, we are ensuring a better future for us all.
5) Fight stereotypes, including your own.
Gender is not about biological differences between the sexes, rather, it’s a social construct — people define what it means to be a boy or a girl, and these social conditioning often expect children to conform to specific and limiting gender roles and expectations from a young age.
6) Stop Body Shaming.
Body shaming is a learned be avior, so it’s important for parents to lead by example. Be careful not to be critical of body image, including your own, and reject sexist, negative stereotypes of unrealistic body standards. Try not to compare yourself to the beauty standards set by the media, culture and society, and they won’t, either.
7) Listen and learn from your littles.
Today’s youth — 1.8 billion strong — represent boundless possibilities and enormous talent to build a better future for the world. But to truly harness that power, we need to listen to them. Girls and boys have a role to play in achieving gender equality, today.
8) Monitor your kids’ media.
Most parents have some level of control over what their kids consume online and in the media. Continue on, and maybe even do more, because screens play a huge part in shaping how kids see the world. “Media plays an important role in forming and reinforcing gender roles and stereotypes. Media violence in particular influences the way kids play and even develop relationships with one another,” says Karyn Kennedy, executive director of Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention, an advocacy and awareness organization in Toronto that also helps kids at risk of being abused or who have been abused in the past. “Kids who are exposed to media violence are more aggressive in how they relate to others and are more likely to solve problems using violence.” Media violence not only desensitizes kids to the effects of aggression, Kennedy says, but it can also dehumanize the victim and reduce kids’ ability to feel empathy.
9) Respect their boundaries.
The idea that no means no can start with play. If they’re playing a chasing or tickling game and one kid doesn’t like it, game over. Implement the concept of regularly “pressing pause” when they’re playing—a quick check-in to make sure everyone is still having fun. Insisting your kid kiss or hug a relative or family friend is probably the most common way we ignore our own kids’ boundaries. We have to listen if we want them to believe that no really does mean no, regardless of how awkward it might be on the etiquette front.