Edward has ‘girl hair’. I’m told, mainly by strangers, it needs cut because he’ll be teased and I’m being cruel. Edward doesn’t want short hair. I’ve asked. Many times. He says long hair is Edward. Short hair is unfair.
Saying Edward will be teased for ‘girl hair’ suggests there is something wrong with ‘girl hair’. In our home all hair is just fine.
Edward also says ‘Edward don’t cry’ because ‘Edward is a boy’. A quick Google image search showed men do cry. Strong, powerful men. Men like Barack Obama.
Teaching our children about gender inequality and diversity is daunting, but avoiding the conversation isn’t the solution. If we’re not talking about fairness and mutual respect, our kids will think it’s ok for Wendy from Peter Pan never to be included in adventures or games, or that Tiger Lily never speaks. If we want society to be free of gender discrimination and bias we need to start at home.
But where do you start? At Edward’s age (between 3-4 years) understanding fairness and unfairness is tangible. Talking about kindness and sharing is key. As is mixing up stereotypes such as ‘firemen’ and ‘postmen’ otherwise Fireman Sam and Postman Pat grab all the attention. And it’s a good age to start learning about respect and physicality. So if we are playing a tickling game and Edward wants it to end he says ‘Stop’ or ‘No’ and the game ends immediately. He is learning ‘his body belongs to him’ and if he doesn’t want a hug or kiss that’s ok. Just like it’s ok for other people to say ‘Stop’ or ‘No’ because ‘their body belongs to them’.
Our children deserve a world where they can all be free to have long hair, to cry, an education, security, wage equality, freedom and justice. So let’s start the conversation.