In our Twitter chat on Monday (11th March) mothers of all age children discussed how we raise our boys and girls with respect to #MeToo issues. As expected, comments were thoughtful and thought-provoking. We were definitely channeling Whitney Houston –
“I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier..”
And also that –
We have to do it in a way that doesn’t attack boys, but also makes them aware of their responsibilities. @ToniHargis
Here are the main themes that came out of our lively chat:
A lot of the problems arise because we tell children what they should feel, what they should play with, and how they should dress. We all need to do a better job of letting kids just be themselves; stop telling boys they can’t cry and stop encouraging girls to be pleasers.
“We hate this too! Throwing like a girl, running like a girl, etc. Being compared to a girl should not be an insult or used a punchline!” @BritMums
I totally agree, it is so tough for boys to live up to these ideals. That they have to man up, be strong can’t cry, be protectors… it’s definitely a concern for me as a mother of a son. @vibeslifeus
From an early age, children should know about boundaries – their own and others’. This isn’t just about sexual advances, but includes getting and giving consent for hugs and kisses.
Yes! Like letting them know they don’t have to kiss grandma if they don’t want to- but also that grandma should respect the child that says “go away” and not force a hug or kiss. It’s not rude. It is autonomy. @Lycrawidow
This is so important. I always try to say, ‘say goodbye, would you like to hug whoever’…. It’s so engrained in us to say, ‘kiss so and so goodbye’ but we have to give children agency. @theachopsbooks
I have taught my 4 year old son about consent, he will now ask if it’s okay to hug, and he knows NO means NO! @TheGranthams
“Would you like a hug?” is a great way to do that. Doesn’t sound too PC Police, but still asks for permission. @ToniHargis
Massage was taught at my boys primary school and they were all told to ask first before touching anybody @CulturalWed
Summed up nicely by an expert-
This scares the wits out of many parents and was mentioned often in the chat. It’s something most of us didn’t have to deal with as children and teenagers, and we’re aware of the pressures that come with it. We’re also aware that we don’t always know what’s going on.
I talk differently to each of mine, although we cover the same issues. Breaks my heart though that by year 9 there is pressure to “send nudes” @ActuallyMummy
Definitely social media! Lucas is only in year 3 but at his junior school they have already had instances of inappropriate photo sharing. It’s insidious and kids are being targeted at younger and younger ages. Such a tricky one to police…. @angep1969
In the news recently – girls called “Frigid” if they don’t send photos, & then called “slags” when they do. @ToniHargis
Dads and relatives
We also discussed what happens when the dads and rellies are lagging behind a little:
The hardest thing I find is when the older generation are still “stuck in their ways” and spout old fashioned bigotry. Crikey, I could start getting really cross!! We have two grandpas who visibly blanche if Lucas so much as looks at a doll/doll baby. @angep1969
…..and sometimes teachers!
And sometimes friends –
…one teacher told me about how my youngest wanted to dress as a princess, and another female student said he couldn’t. Before the teacher could speak, my son had reminded her about how anyone can be anything! @tweetinghelena
And thanks to @thepottydiaries for sharing this great video “Tea and Consent” which perfectly explains the concept.