In addition to all the beautiful photos of clothes, children and their cool parents that we love to share, I would like to talk about something that is very close to my heart and has become more and more of a concern in recent times. The current debate on sexism has been going on for a relatively long time since the #metoo movement and, with the last Women’s March in every major city, shows how much change and development is needed. There will be important and necessary discussions that will finally find an open ear of the wider public, but will take years to resolve the injustices mentioned – or, unfortunately, not.
Because when I look around in our kindergarten (for your information a completely average kindergarten in downtown Hamburg), I notice the following: girls are wearing pink, purple, sometimes red or orange. They dress up as princesses or fairies on carnival and all love Elsa, the ice princess. The boys wear dark blue, dark green and in crazy cases sometimes red. Fire engine red of course. Featured are Bob the Builder, Ninjago and Robbers. There are in my eyes two main explanations. On the one hand, it is alleged: “No, he / she doesn’t have that from me, she / he likes it all by himself or from the other children.” On the other hand people could sometimes say: “There is no other choice.”. Both explanations are of course wrong, but I can understand, when parents try to find excuses and don’t want to search for gender-neutral clothes in the evening. It’s like being at war with children. Everyone just tries to survive somehow ... It’s clear, however, that the primary caregiver affects their children the most, no matter how long they are cared for differently during the day. Even those who do not actively tell their children about gender roles influence their behavior by their own and for me, that includes accepting prevailing conditions in the form of clothes that suggests certain gender roles. There’s nothing wrong with girls wearing dresses and guys playing with excavators, but we should let them choose for themselves and not subconsciously force them into one direction. The first mentioned point also includes the aspect of group dynamics: My child wants to please his friends and not be an outsider. No one wants that, but isn’t it for the best if you’re just yourself?
The protectionism that has become pretty popular with so called “helicopter parents” promotes exactly this behavior: never provoke, never attract attention, my child should have a carefree life in his pink cotton cloud.
But everyone should be aware, that this does not prepare those kids for real life. If someone never learns to question things, to discuss and sometimes has the courage to disagree, the manifestations of sexism, as it is currently discussed, will prevail for a long time.
Therefore: Even if you are afraid that your child could be bullied or may appear as an outsider – if you don’t learn how to deal with any kind of discrimination in a confident way and do not know what you want, this will not change in adulthood. Of course, it is not an easy task and demands a lot from us parents. I can’t say if I do everything right and whether something is their own will or the influence of society, no one can say with certainty. Exactly because of that I try to gather courage and energy from the current debate, in the hope that it will lead to a rethinking in the right direction and we will be acting together as parents for the benefit of our kids future. Let’s talk about what we can do right and share in trying to be a role model. So that we know that we are doing our best to raise courageous, open-minded and tolerant children who can find out for themselves what and who they want to be.