Willow Magazine CREATING LIFE - Page 99

From there I reflected again on my own talking and asked myself: How often do I raise my voice? Do I judge and blame them? Is the way I talk to them respectful and kind? Would I treat my partner, a friend, neighbour or colleague the same?

Raising my boys gently and peacefully, also means to me to get rid of society’s expectations of boys: Boys don’t cry, they are the emotionless super-heroes, they should “man up”, and certainly they should not play with girls’ (toys) or dollies. “Their” toys are action figures, fast cars, modern day heroes (fire fighters, police men), monsters, toy weapons and the like. Really? For starters we have no TV. My boys never played with toy guns, action figures or the like. No, we didn’t forbid those – they never chose to.

Having them unschooled plays another important role in the way they learn and interact with people. Without peer pressure, bullying, tests and overcrowded classrooms, they can explore freely what they are interested in and really like. They learn in their own way and at their pace with my wife’s and my support and respect for their innate development. We create opportunities for them to meet many different people, form relationships, get to know different places, try out a variety of activities and discover their passions so that they have time to develop their potential and be happy.

I noticed how much society focuses on gender labels and how much boys and girls alike suffer from these labels. We raise our children gender-neutrally. Why do kids choose to wear certain clothes? It’s the fear to be different. Gender equality can only be achieved if we let our children choose out of their preference not their sex. They understand they can do/be what and who they want to be. We don’t tell our children that there are clothes and colours for boys and those for girls (who gets to decide that anyway?), we let them choose their toys, whether it’s a dolly or car. We want our sons and daughter to grow up knowing they are just perfect as they are, instead of buying into society’s beauty images. We parent our children equally, responding to them based on their personalities not their gender.

So, yes, my 8-year-old son has long hair, he likes his doll and soft toys as much as construction toys, and he wears dresses most days. He loves them. He knows many other boys and men (like his friends) don’t wear them. That’s fine for him, or as he told me: ‘everybody should just wear what they like’. Whenever other adults (it’s mostly them and not other kids) make assumptions on our children’s preferences according to their sex, I challenge them. How else can we change the current inequalities in the workplace (in terms of pay, career paths and progressions)? We, families, need to start demanding for change and be the change ourselves. That means take equal responsibility for childcare and domestic tasks. Women are being held small by how they are portrayed in media, society and treated by our ruling bodies and men are pushed into roles they don’t wish to fulfil.

If my boys decide to become fathers one day they will hopefully not be as clueless as I was about parenting as well as about how to go through life’s challenges and come out stronger than before the other end. And, if my daughter one day becomes a mum, she will simply expect her partner to be an equal parent right from the beginning – going this journey together.

Bio:

Torsten Klaus is an Author, Parenting Coach, Baby Massage Teacher and father to three children. He runs the internet platform www.dadstalkcommunity.org and you can connect with him on www.facebook.com/DadsTalk or www.twitter.com/EmpathicFathers

His international amazon bestseller ”The Empathic Father” is available on amazon.com

Gender equality can only be achieved if we let our children choose out of their preference not their sex.

IMAGE CREDIT: Talitha Walterfang