How should we speak to our children? A question that comes up again and again. Should we use baby talk, words like din-dins for a meal and so on, when they are very small? Should we simplify matters during their childhood and avoid longer words and certain types of vocabulary that we regard as more advanced and therefore more complicated? Is one word enough to convey a meaning, or should we use synonyms? Does dumbing down language for kids help or hinder their development?
I’d like to think of myself as a feminist. I try, in my day to day life, to espouse feminist principles: I teach my three year old son about enthusiastic consent, I challenge everyday sexism when I encounter it, I
maybe probably definitely talk my husband’s ear off about the sexism in the world.
I do have one teeny tiny problem though – my husband and I are both horrible horrible gender stereotypes. He likes comic books and superheroes, cars and bikes, mechanics, woodwork, sports, STEM subjects and steak. I like knitting, baking, sewing, frilly clothes, makeup, arts, writing, babies. My husband goes out to work and I stay at home.
How do you model gender equality to your kids, when you live a gender stereotype?
I know that some people sneer at them, but I do love a good inspirational quote. You know the ‘memes’ that are shared on social media, a photo with text superimposed on it. But some memes make me grit my teeth and click [hide] on Facebook. And not just the ones that ask me to click [like] to help save children with cancer (who believes this crap anyway?!). No, I have a real problem with self-confidence memes.
Whenever there is a news report about teaching kids about consent, we hear the same responses. The Daily Mail shouts about primary school kids being taught about rape and abuse. Someone will complain that #notallmen are rapists, and how dare we suggest otherwise. A male student will object to being invited to a consent workshop. The weird thing is, that teaching kids about consent isn’t actually about sex, and it isn’t at all radical. It isn’t even part of an anti-man conspiracy.
Like all parents, I sometimes worry about my children when they are out of sight. Did they look both ways before crossing the road? Who are they talking to online? Are they really coming straight home from school?
Some parents have worries that go far beyond that, because the dangers their children face are seemingly benign … and yet they are everywhere. We talked with affected parents, and asked them what the main things are that they, as parents of kids with allergies, wish you knew.
If you believed the headlines about the social networking site Instagram and self-esteem, you’d snatch the smartphone from your daughter and never let her open the photo-sharing app ever again. “Most depressing social network”, “killing your self-esteem”, “Instagram Envy!”… were just a few of the articles I found when searching for information.
More than any other network, Instagram is criticised as a social media site that damages self-esteem. It is creating a generation of selfie-obsessed teen girls, whose only aim is to receive at least 100 likes on their uploaded photos. When their photos aren’t valued by their peers, the girls develop self-esteem issues, which damage them in other areas of their life.
It all sounds pretty scary, but what is the truth behind the headlines, and what can parents do to help their children to use Instagram to boost their confidence rather than dent it?