Lately, actually always, I've found myself fighting a losing battle with gender stratified and specifically female marketed toys. This is particularly troubling as I like to present a balanced approach to gender roles in my parenting style. In fact I'd rather lead a brood of jocky nerds than a bunch of fussy prisses. I wouldn't know what to do if they decided to cheer for the team instead of play on the team. In fact, I might die. Then I thought that sentiment may be unfair. So instead of dying I might find a way to bring some edge to whatever they chose… want to cheer- you’re doing gymnastics. Want to dance- competitive cheer. Being aggressive and competitive are important to me and I want them to understand that when they compete it’s not for attention- how they look, but intention- what they can do. There’s nothing wrong with being a woman, but there’s sooooo much wrong with what society expects women to do.
This xmas he went nuts with Lego friends. To the point that my daughters opened their xmas boxes not surprised.
One whispered with a very lackluster tone , “Daddy always gets Legos. No dolls.”. I was like, “Are you kidding me, these are free gifts… say thank you.”. How dare these guys, but still an all Lego christmas though?
He was met with brutal resistance. But I commend him because he kept trying. The breakthrough came because he kept asking them to build WITH him. He didn't let them put the blocks away until they had completed all the directions in the booklet. And the complaining and whining was no match for his calm demeanor and encouraging words:
“Look what we made.”
“Wow, that looks really good but you skipped step 4, so you have to go back and do it again.”
“Isn't this fun?”
You know what I realized… I can do all the yelling I want. I can fight femininity and vaginal enslavement as much as I please… it’s not going to help. Girls need encouragement from mom and dad. Period. Their father can get them to do things with a softer tone than I can with a soft or aggressive one. I’m not jealous or mad, I’m just glad we both agree on what should be happening.
I think my role, is to show them an amazing example of what a woman, most specifically for us- a black woman, can accomplish with hard work, a balanced realistic nature and a loving understanding of the way the world can be. His role- is there to support them as they fly. He is there to encourage them to just go for it. He is supposed to let them know that if they marry a guy, there is complement in that relationship. He is there to show that men can be loving and masculine.
Women… we can do as much liberating, stomping, fighting, protesting, yelling as we want. And we should, because it’s not quite equal yet. However, if your daughter has a father available, make sure you use his strength to strengthen her. He should be there to support her, no matter what. They should have a loving relationship, no matter what. He has to be on board with putting her on his shoulders so that she can reach her highest goals… That’s what he’s here for.