It’s not every day you see a video about parents who purge the identities of their children.
When I was a child, I wanted to dye my hair blond.
I wanted, like every child, to explore the possibilities of my person – whether it be my physical or my mental characteristics. I doubt that there’s a single person out there who can honestly say they did not try something new as a child, that they did not crave for change or something exciting. Childhood, in essence, is about discovering the depths of your world, and who and what inhabits it.
I remember telling all of my friends in my fifth grade class that I was going to dye my hair blond. When I got home that day, I looked up at my father, eyes wide, and exclaimed my wish. He looked at me, amused, and told me we would have to ask my mother.
Of course, she shot it down immediately. Too feminine, too weird, too not traditional – too much of everything she stood against. Similar to what she tells me now, when I want to keep my hair a little longer, “How many men on the list of billionaires have long bangs? Zero!”
Now, as a seventeen-year-old, I am aware that the blond would have clashed terribly with my tan skin. But at that time, I wanted just to be, to express myself, even if it was through something superficial. I wanted the support of my peers and the foundation of my family to guide me with my choice. Instead, it was shot down.
One of the things that strikes me the most about one of the moms in that video is when she says this, “I agree that he shouldn’t [wear the feminine costume]. Just because kids are cruel. I don’t want him to get picked on at school. That’s all.”
I have no experience in parenting whatsoever, but isn’t one’s job as a parent to provide their children with unconditional love? To build up their self-esteem and to make sure that they know they are loved, even if others say they are not? That’s my problem with what that mom said. Instead of shielding her son from the potential flames of his peers, she should have reinforced that he is perfect no matter what he wears. That no matter how many sticks and stones are thrown at him, he can be whoever he wants to be and he will still be loved. To create change in society and to serve as a strong model, parents cannot go with the flow – they must rise up against the unfairness of contemporary culture and raise their children to the best of their ability.
To be a parent is such a big position. I always say things like “when I have kids, I’m going to have them read by the time they’re two,” or “when I have kids, I’m going to sing Lady Gaga to them so much they’ll recite lyrics in their sleep.” But it’s not that easy. I probably won’t have kids for another ten years or so, and I can already tell it’s not that easy.
As a parent, an entire person’s life is in your hands. You have to step up to the plate. You have to take charge and combat the monsters and the cruelties your child faces, whether it be the Boogeyman or the bigoted kid next door. You have to protect your little prince or princess from all the nasty things people say. You will have to keep their heart – your kingdom – safe.
And when I’m a parent, I will let my children dye their hair brown. I will tell them that it’s okay to wear costumes that other kids aren’t wearing, that being like a boy or being like a girl isn’t as important as being you.
I will love them, unconditionally.
What do you guys think of traditional gender roles and the responsibility of a parent in raising his or her child? I’m looking forward to feedback from parents and from others who have experience with children. Now I am off to shower and do homework, until next time!