Boys will be boys and girls, well girls can be anything?!
For many of us, being born a boy or a girl meant you were presented with a steady series of stereotypical tools that reinforced your understanding of what it means to be a boy or a girl.
From baby onesies that declared “Tough as Dad” to toys that helped boys design and build whole cities from little blocks. We tell boys that they can do anything in life they imagine, they can walk on the moon, they can become adventurers and protectors of the galaxy. And boys be warned, you cannot feel anything other then a sense of duty, a desire to protect and rescue those you deem to be weaker than you. And girls, well girls can practice their compassion and kindness by caring for baby dolls or get a head start on those house keeping skills with toy kitchen ware.
The last few years has seen a shift in how we understand gender and which gender roles are more about convenience and which are limiting. Girls have always been given space to be more “emotional” except when it comes to anger – girls cannot show anger! For boys its all been about what they can do, and less about how they feel. So boys have come to understand that being “emotional” is weak. And we think it’s time we turned their world upside down…
Girls can be anything they want – they can be astronauts, engineers or stay-at-home moms. And today women are breaking down the gender boundaries voicing their anger, through campaigns like #MeToo – by delivering deliberate messages they give girls and women a voice and help them reclaim their rights. At The Character Company, we fully support these campaigns and help to educate our boys about the issues girls and women still face.
So in a society that appears to be ignoring the boy child, how do we raise boys that feel comfortable with “soft” emotions like compassion, empathy and kindness. At The Character Company we start by talking to our boys about why they might be feeling the way they do. Being raised without a father and/or positive male role models can often leave boys with low self-esteem and struggling to cope at home and at school. We work to improve their sense of self through activities that build life-skills and challenge their understanding of who they are.
Kindness is one of our 5 core values and we think our responsibility is to help raise these boys not with gender neutrality or by ignoring the intrinsic differences between girls and boys – but through recognizing that every single boy has an innate ability for compassion and kindness. And we as a society would do well to foster and preserve these qualities in all our children.