International Women’s Day was a big deal in our house. Not necessarily because we were celebrating it, but because my 14-year-old son was challenging it.
My approach to parenting is to support individuality. My children are encouraged to be free thinkers and to challenge ideas and concepts. I believe it is my responsibility as a parent, to encourage authentic individuality and this doesn’t happen by forcing my beliefs or those of our society down their throats. As a result of this approach, my son Noah is wise beyond his years at age 14. And my 8-year old daughter Charlee, well, let’s just say she will likely be the most brilliant lawyer of all times.
But I have to say, this challenge of International Women’s Day from my son caught me off guard. Particularly because other adult forces in Noah’s life were expressing “disappointment” with his “disrespect” for the day. And well, let’s face it – I am a woman, so this one hit me on a personal level. So, I asked Noah to explain his thought process and here is what he said:
“You know, I mean I see all people equal, no matter what race, religion or gender. I just think that having days like these are separating us as a people even more so that is why I think it should be a day for all overcoming these kinds of struggles. I won’t respect you or disrespect you because you are a woman or a certain race. I will respect or disrespect you based on what kind of person you are. I don’t respect, or disrespect people based on their struggles, but rather on how they choose to handle them. That’s just how I think, Mom.”
I was speechless. It took me a moment to really absorb what he was saying and more importantly, to honor the free-spirited thinker he has become. And so, when I thought about how to respond, one very important truth was ringing in my mind; I AM not just a woman. I simply, AM.
- I’m not a pure descendent of any one race therefore I AM white, Hispanic, Italian, Mexican, Native American and probably a touch of many, many more.
- Although I choose Christianity, I apply many teachings of other religions to my life therefore I AM simply a child of God.
- As a woman, I also have a male leading energy (according to an assessment by Tony Robbins) and am a very logical thinker. Therefore I AM, simply a human being with female and male “qualities.”
- I run a business but also have children and a husband therefore, I AM a homemaker who also provides income.
- I have experienced sexual harassment, so I raise my hand for the “Me Too” movement. Yet, I am also experiencing the greatest business opportunity of a lifetime (in a business run by men) therefore, I AM NOT a victim to one person’s primitive existence but rather I AM a productive member of a gender neutral workforce.
The list goes on and on, solidifying that I don’t just fall into one bucket for anything. If you really think about it, do you?
The longer we continue with the black and white thinking, the longer the segregation will continue. What if we open our minds to the idea that WE are not all so different after all. Perhaps our level of respect would change for one another. Maybe Noah is right, maybe all of these concepts that separate us into buckets of human beings should be changed to an ongoing celebration of who we all are as humankind. Maybe, if we truly saw in everyone else what exists in ourselves, all this destruction would end. Because doesn’t the hate stem from separateness in the beginning? It all start with us against them, or you against me.
International Women’s Day is a beautiful celebration of what women have overcome and I don’t want to diminish that in any way, but is it another message to our youth of US against THEM? Every one of these movements over time have been with the intent to bring us together as one. At what point do we eliminate the separateness of these movements?
I’m not sure what the answer is, but I will say this – if I have a 14-year old thinking this way, seeing humans as humans without much regard for gender, religion, or color – our youth are moving in the right direction. My son just can’t grasp the concept of man vs woman or black vs white and trying to force him to see the separation is a step backwards. Perhaps our youth will show us the way with this evolved thinking, because isn’t that what the movements are all about anyways?