8 lessons I won’t be teaching my daughter

Mothers of daughters have a tough job, and a much tougher responsibility. As a feminist myself, I will of course raise my daughter the same way, meaning I will not subscribe to some of the more traditional parenting ideologies and styles.

I want my daughter to be fearless and strong, and emotional and kind, all at the same time. I want her to grow up knowing she deserves the world and more, especially now where we have a number of people (particularly in the political spotlight… AHEM… no names…) who think it is still acceptable to treat women like they are a lesser species. My daughter will NEVER be made to feel like this.

So, here are 8 lessons I won’t be teaching my daughter, in the hope that she grows up to be that fearless princess dinosaur that I already know she is on the inside.

1. Children should be seen and not heard

This is outdated and completely limits children’s imagination. I want Olivia to be comfortable in her own home, and everywhere else, to speak her mind and to be sociable. I will obviously still be teaching her respect for others and patience (waiting her turn when someone else is talking), but that doesn’t need to go hand in hand with mandatory silence.

2. Don’t get your clothes dirty

How else do you measure a child’s enjoyment if not by the amount of muck they manage to get on themselves in a day? My daughter WILL play outside and she absolutely WILL NOT be afraid of mud.

3. That’s a boy’s toy/not for girls to play with

Ugh, gender stereotyping. If she wants to play with a football, she can. If she wants to wear a princess dress while playing football, she can. If she wants to dress up as a dinosaur and do ballet, she can. The point is, again this is another silly social construct that limits our children’s imaginations. I don’t ever want her to feel that she can’t do something because she’s a girl, and that starts even at the youngest age with telling them they can’t have certain toys, games or clothes!

4. Don’t be bossy

Firstly, it’s not “being bossy”, it’s leadership skills. I am HATE the word bossy and I will never use it to describe my daughter. She is strong-minded, strong-willed and incredibly confident and independent. She is a handful at times. She likes being in charge and having people follow her lead. She is not bossy. A boy is never described as bossy, because it’s somehow a demeaning word, and I don’t want to suppress all of those amazing qualities Olivia has into that one word.

5. Be more lady-like

My daughter is funny and gross at times, but I don’t care. She’s a kid. I’ll teach her to be polite, kind and courteous, but not to be more lady-like. Plus, boys should be showing those qualities too!

6. Ladies first

I hate this. It makes me cringe. I’m all for holding doors open for people, but I have a particular disdain for someone holding it open and saying “ladies first” as I walk through. JUST WHY? Why and how did that even become a thing?

7. Respect your elders

Nope. Respect is earned. Not everyone deserves your respect purely because they were born before you. As above, I’ll teach my daughter to be polite, and respectful, but not that a certain class of people can demand respect from her. It’s hers to give!

8. You have to hug/kiss [insert relative here] hello/goodbye

Her body, her rules. I respect her autonomy. I never force her to give hugs or kisses if she doesn’t want to. She is an affectionate little soul and if she wants to show affection she will. If not, I don’t really care who it upsets. Everyone needs to respect that SHE decides whether she wants to hug/kiss them.

What other parenting rules are you breaking? What will/won’t you teach your children and why?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Steps I am taking to be a ‘Sex Positive’ Parent to my Toddler…

Sex Positivity is all about embracing sexuality and understanding that sex and everything relating to it, is a natural part of life as a human being.

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Like most of us at Mummykind, you may have grown up in a family environment where not even a word about sex was ever uttered- leading you to experience feelings of shame, guilt or discomfort about a wide range of completely natural sexual subjects. Sex positivity and awareness of sex isn’t exclusive to contraception and the big talks that we may have once had as a teenager. Sex Positivity is all about embracing sexuality and understanding that sex and everything relating to it, is a natural part of life as a human being.

 

 

I stumbled across a fantastic page on Instagram @sexpositive_families (some of their infographics and quotes are featured on this post!) several months ago- it promoted the importance of sex positivity in families, especially in parenting and since then I have made a conscious effort to be the most sex positive Mummy I can be! We all want our children to be happy and healthy,  I think its massively important to remember that raising healthy children goes beyond what they’re eating and how much exercise they get- Their mental and sexual health is massively important too! 

Needless to say- “sexual health goes beyond just puberty, basic human biology and very occasional sex talks.” When we start sexual health talks and awareness early, we give our children awareness that affirms they are neither strange nor wrong for any of what they are experiencing. 

Obviously the Mummykind kids are between a few months and three years old, so the sex positive parenting steps that I am going to recommend will mainly cater for this age.


As parents we have to tell little white lies all the time- about father Christmas, about the tooth fairy, about how long 5 minutes is- but sex, relationships, sexuality and bodies are some of the things we should always try to be honest about. 

  • Do not ban any words at home, no matter how uncomfortable they might make you feel.

Children need to know they can trust you and talk to you about anything- use proper words for body parts when and where possible or opt for words that cant mean other things. We call a vagina a ‘nuna’ but often use the word vagina anyway. Words like ‘cookie’ for example have alternate meanings and this can lead to confusion and abuse being missed due to being misunderstood. 

 

  • Let your child be naked.

If my daughter is at home and she wants to be naked, then she can do as she pleases. Her being comfortable to be undressed is important. I don’t deliberately go around naked at home, but I don’t hide away when I am. I have a full figure, stretch marks and scars and I want her to see that is normal and okay.

  • When your child doesn’t want to hug or kiss someone, don’t make them!

“Make a habit out of asking permission before you touch them or share affection with your children, Respecting their boundaries’ highlights the importance of their bodily autonomy and lays a crucial foundation and ‘understanding of consent.”

@sexpositive_families reminds us that common consent violations can include-

“Being tickled past the point of comfort, being hugged or kissed without their permission, telling a family member to “stop” without it being respected, being told to eat food past the point of being full, having your personal items looked through without being asked for permission or being told to show affection to another person when you did not want to.”

  • When you catch your toddler exposing or touching their body parts, don’t freak out.

Exploring your own body, including your genitals is a valuable part of sexual health that often begins at a young age. A child touching or fiddling about with their genitalia shouldn’t be discouraged, but more reiterated that there is a time and place for doing so. For example if your child is playing with his penis, you could try saying “We don’t touch our penises in the living room darling, if you want to do that why don’t you go to your room or the bathroom?” … touching and exploring their own bodies isn’t the issue but the place they decide to do it often is! Kids understand when things are compartmentalised and so offering an alternative that is safer and more appropriate to explore themselves should make sense and feel normal to them, a bit like “No eating whilst using the toilet”.

  • When they ask about private parts, don’t shy away from the subject.

I was shopping in Aldi when I picked up some sanitary towels- my daughter decided to shout “ARE THEY FOR YOUR BOTTOM MUMMY?” although I felt a little embarrassed, I wanted her to have no shame around the subject or use of sanitary products so I proudly proclaimed “YES, yes darling, these are for my bottom… Lady days!”.. No matter where and no matter when, try to never shy away from your child questions about their body, your body or otherwise!

  • When your child asks about intimacy, try to explain it in a way that makes sense and is appropriate to them.

“Why are they kissing?” “Why are they holding hands?” – Talk about how when people want to touch each other it can make them happy to do so, but it could also make them sad if it was unexpected or made one of them uncomfortable. ‘Safe Touch’ and ‘Unsafe Touch’ can be taught from early ages. Try to avoid making physical contact and affection sound like a negative, but more focus the child’s attention on what other lovely things they could do if they’re feeling like they want to kiss somebody that it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to kiss – like pick a flower or draw a picture for them. We are all such emotional beings, discussing these emotions with our children can only make them stronger.

My daughter is almost three and has always followed me around as I go about my day to day. If I shower, she’ll be in and out as I do- the same as when I use the bathroom. If she sees any blood or any use of sanitary products, I tell her that it is for my ‘lady days’ – I have PCOS and really suffer when I have a period and knowing that my daughter could experience similar when she is growing up made me want to be as vocal about my experience as possible. I talk to her about my cramps, I talk to her about the bleeding when and if she sees it and I talk to her about my use of sanitary products. If I am feeling unwell for gynae reasons I will discuss it as if it was a cold or flu. I don’t want my child to feel any once of shame for a natural process. I want her to know it is normal and it is okay.

Your response to your child saying these words lays a foundation for their understanding of consent!

  • Listen to anything that your children want to tell you. If you don’t listen to the small stuff now, they won’t tell you the big stuff later.https://www.instagram.com/p/BqBNKK9B_mB/

In summary- “Sex positive parents are parents who raise children that are prepared to make informed choices about their bodies, relationships and sexual health.” “The best sex education is given over a life time, not in one talk or occasional school lessons.” @sexpositive_families

Here are some of my favourite Sex Positive Parenting resources

https://www.instagram.com/sexpositive_families/

https://www.instagram.com/the.vulva.gallery/

https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/magazine/10-ways-to-support-sex-positive-kids/

https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/1466718-Sex-positive-parenting-blog

https://theswaddle.com/sex-positive-parenting-toddler/

**Please note that Sex Positive Parenting isn’t exclusive to any gender, despite a variety of resources suggesting that it is mainly something that parents of girls need to think about**

A special thank you and shout out to @sexpositive_families who have been quoted throughout this post. Their work is invaluable and you most definitely need to check them out!

Remember that if words fail you, there are plenty of appropriate books that can be purchased online for various different age groups that can say what you might be struggling to. @sexpositive_families have devised a fantastic reading list that covers a wide range of subject to a multitude of ages, find it here.