I have been thinking about the issue of confidence and self esteem for awhile. I recently came across these images and videos and felt compelled to share my thoughts. I first and foremost agree with the messages presented in these videos. Young people are taught whether intentionally, or through socially acceptable behaviors that men and women are different and women are to be subservient to their male counterpart. I grew up with three brothers and was sheltered from the issues facing young women. Now I am a part of two beautiful intelligent girls who are already facing the drama of being compared to others, measuring their self worth on how they stack up to their classmates. My wife and I try to do everything we can to support, encourage, and in some cases shelter them from the harshness of the world. We want them to learn to accept who they are, be confident, and stand up for themselves. I don't want them to go around saying sorry in order to please other people as the video below demonstrates.
The vision my wife and I have for our daughters is one of confidence, conviction and independence. Unfortunately, the world is filled with negative stereotypes, and detractors, who make it even more difficult to develop high levels of self-esteem. In teaching history, I read many examples where women are placed in a position of servitude. It is such a rare phenomenon to see a women in a position in power throughout history, we tend to stop and make note of this event. I came across a text summarizing the social stigma surrounding women's ability during the early 19th century. It painted the picture that women were not physically capable for athletics, or intelligent enough for critical thinking. The article said women's brains were only large enough for love. It went on to describe the harm that physical activity would produce to the frailty of a woman's body.
Fast forward over a hundred years and we see the video below. Why is it wrong to throw like a girl? Why is it seen as derogatory to do anything like a girl? This needs to change and quickly before we allow any other young women to grow up in a world that places them in a situation where they are deemed inferior or second class citizens.
The flip side of this post is about the sociological expectations placed upon boys. I actually began this post reflecting on the concept of "Nice Guys Finish Last!" I grew up being taught to respect others, to use manners, open doors for others, say please and thank you, wait your turn, all great messages for all people to learn and abide by. I was taught to be nice, be gentle, don't make waves, get into trouble, be a rule follower. I had a great childhood, loving parents and got along with my brothers most of the time. However looking back at my life, I realize I was taught to be obedient, accepting, and quiet. I don't think this was my parents intention, but I was socialized in such a way that I was rewarded for following the rules. I didn't feel it was okay to speak out against the injustice I felt in my life, even when it was painful. I have been told not to burn bridges, or upset others. I was taught to be a nice guy. I don't mean this to come across as being nice is a bad thing. However we have to be careful how our expectations are being received and impact our kids. Nice Guys do finish last! I don't mean to say that you should be nice, but just not to the extreme that you don't stand up for yourself. You can be nice and be confident, assertive, and a leader.
The lesson for me, whether a young boy or girl is to teach them to be confident, independent and stand up for your convictions. Don't accept injustice without letting your voice ring out. Take a stand and be heard! You can be nice, mind your manners and still be a leader. Find your passion, your mission and be the change you want to see around you!
Final thought just came to me from a Whitney Houston Song- Greatest Love of All- So I will leave you with her words and ask you to do your best to help our children fulfill their destiny!
I believe the children are our 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
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody's searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me