For the second year in a row I find myself writing a blog post around the International Day of the Girl (October 11th). One part of my brain says it is silly to have a “day” set aside for the gender that represents half the world’s population. The other part recognizes the serious handicap our wives, sisters, and daughters operate under around the world. We have to do better and the place to start is within our own families, social circles, work places, and communities.
A short while ago an engineering student wrote a letter to his college newspaper on the challenges faced by female classmates. Jared Maudlin (http://easterneronline.com/36007/letters-to-the-editor/letter-to-the-editor-stem/) has gotten lots of response to his very thoughtful piece. When I first read it my initial thought was “His parents should be very proud to have raised a young man this insightful.”
When my children were in grade school, Jan and I put a lot of effort into participating in their activities. The first thing I learned is that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” To put it bluntly, the kids you had the most trouble with tended to have parents you did not enjoy interacting with. I say “kids” not “boys” because I once had to bench an eight year old on my daughter’s soccer team for using foul language and got a very salty lecture from her father at half time.
It is a different world that we send our kids out into. I won’t go off on a curmudgeonly tirade against “politically correct” infringement of speech. Whatever you may think or believe is your business; passing those beliefs on to your kids is certainly your right. But do you really want to handicap their futures by not teaching them tact, manners, and fair play?
My children taught me this important lesson when a beloved aunt displayed less than modern racial attitudes during a family dinner. Imagine how much I enjoyed telling an 85-year-old woman that my ten year old, who she adored, was afraid to invite Auntie to her birthday party for fear she’s say something hurtful around her multi-racial guests.
We currently live in a world where girls are subject to kidnapping, rape, and murder for wanting to get an education. Even in our own country young women are discouraged from entering certain fields of study. This has to stop. And the place to start is within each of our own behaviors. Give your kids a leg up in life; teach them to play fair with others — even if they have to bite their tongues while doing it. Remember, we reserve the right to remain silent.