How do you raise a feminist?

I have a couple of posts in the queue, but they seem inconsequential compared to the grief and loss I feel related to the election. And I know I am not alone, and I count my family and friends among my blessings — not just for who they are, but for what they value and what they represent.

I have been thinking a lot about what it’s like to have a new baby and have Donald Trump elected as president. In some ways, it’s heavier and more depressing. In other ways, it’s relieving to see W’s innocence, his smile, and his oblivion — it makes me hopeful. And I am grateful that I don’t have to elucidate the political landscape to him. As my friend Julia remarked, it would be a whole lot harder to explain this to a five-year-old. 

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W wonders what this word “election” means and why I keep talking about it with all my friends.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I knew I was having a boy. I just had a feeling. Yet there was a part of me that secretly wished for a girl.

I thought it would be easier to raise a girl. I went to an all girls summer camp. I lived on an all girls hall when I was a freshman in college. Most of my friends are girls.

I thought it would be easier to tell a little girl what my hopes and dreams were for her. It would be straightforward to always remind her that she is a valuable, worthwhile person who should never feel undermined — because, ta-da, I know what it has been like for me.

And now I have the sweetest little boy sitting in my lap, and I’m contemplating what I want him to take away from this election. I don’t get to decide who William will become, or what he’ll do in his personal or professional life. And I don’t want to decide that for him. But I do hope that as he grows up, he will know and remember two things:

1. Setbacks, failures, mistakes, hindsight, and challenges are all part of being human. Although they will feel monumental and terrible at times, it’s about what we make of these roadblocks, not the roadblocks themselves. As one of my favorite leadership MBA professors tells us, “Extraordinary people use challenges as fuel.” Watch Clinton’s concession speech if you need another reminder.

2. It’s part of our duties, as Americans, to be cognizant of the inequalities that exist in our country (and our world). I hope and wish that W will do his part to move the needle through meaningful conversation and understanding. The world is not an either/or or a right way, wrong way. The world is gray, baby.

W will have immense privilege and power that he can’t even begin to understand or comprehend for years. So what does it mean to raise a feminist? Does it mean pointing out differences, or pointing out sameness? If you bring it up too early, does it point out a difference that doesn’t need to be pointed out? And feminism is a theory (right?) — so how do you instill in your child that we don’t live through theories but through strong beliefs and action?

Way more questions than answers. What do you think?

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W says – Is my friend Mia really that different because she’s a girl? She looks like another baby to me.

2 Comments, RSS

  1. Tutu's girl November 19, 2016 @ 3:06 pm

    One of the first things I said to W was “oh, baby-boy, you are so fortunate to be born in the year we elect a woman president….and a grandma to boot! She’ll know a few things more about relationships and getting along….” You raise that little guy just as your heart and head tell you to, you are already well on your way, you’ve got the right stuff cascade sunny mommy. xoxo

  2. Katrina December 4, 2016 @ 9:04 pm

    Love what you had to say here.
    It’s all in the way we treat each other, and speak about others, and ourselves – how boys can learn to be respectful of all people, and to never, ever take advantage of the vulnerable.
    You are raising him with love and respect, and that will all-ways be his guidepost – that strong foundation. Bravo to you, lovely Megan Mama! Oma

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