My husband and I agree on most things, so it came as no surprise that we’d agree to raise our kid in an information-rich environment.
Our thought was to create a confident decision maker who approached the world with an open mind.
It never occurred to me this was weird–likely because I tend to avoid discussing parenting tactics–until I was talking to Carla about shaving.
“I shave, but SUPER inconsistently. Like MAYBE once a month? I feel better in dresses and skirts when I shave, and I love how smooth my legs feel, but I’m honestly too lazy to do it more than that, and I’m generally more comfortable in pants.
The kid is currently horrified by the thought of shaving her legs, so we talk a lot about how you can, or you can choose not to, and that is totally your right because it’s your body.
About how there are benefits to not starting shaving, like your hair might stay smoother and thinner in general, and you won’t have to buy razors.
About how some women feel most beautiful when they are smooth-shaven and others when they have lots of body hair, and everyone in between.
About how shaving has roots in cleanliness and comfort, and also deep roots in societal and male expectations of the female body.
Shes mulling over her choices, and since she’s 6, she has plenty of time to steep.”
“I adore how you have talked about the options. I like to think I’m on top of things. I hadn’t thought about talking about the options until now.”
And so I thought about my parenting philosophy in a way I hadn’t before.
Why do we do what we do, and is it working for us?
Why? Because it’s the only way that ever made any sense for us.
It started, I think, with religion.
Neither of us are religious.
We don’t go to church. But we were raised in church, and we both got a lot of moral benefit from it. So we wanted to raise her with an awareness of religious ideas, which then led to wanting to raise her with a respect for all of the varying ideas out there.
And so we talk to her about how some people think there’s a god, some don’t. Others think there are lots of gods, or at least more than one. Some people make all of their choices based on religion, others on only science, and everyone in between.
When we came across a trans friend, we talked about that too.
About how some people have bodies that perfectly sync up with the way they feel inside. Others don’t match up at all.
And some people don’t feel like any particular gender. And every one of them is a person, worthy of respect and love.
That’s where it all began.
Since then, we’ve thought through and talked over a million different things, including but not limited to:
- how much or how little clothing people feel comfortable wearing.
- what toys or books people enjoy.
- hairstyles people choose, including boys with long hair and girls with short hair.
- who people want to marry, and people who have no interest in marriage.
- how people choose their college majors or their careers.
- how some people believe that all people should be treated equally while others think that some people are better, or at least different, than others.
That last one really trips her up.
And I’m honest with her in saying I don’t understand everything about the way other people think or feel, but I think it’s important that she know what’s out there.
As a child who’s never known anything different, she’s remarkably open and comfortable with so many differing opinions out there.
Is our parenting approach working?
Yes? No? Who knows?
We’ve ended up with a free-thinking, fair-minded little girl who knows that her way isn’t the only way.
She understands that everyone is different, and that they have a right to be so.
She knows that the world is weird and complicated, and that she–just like everyone else–has every right to her place in it.
She’s confident in owning her own opinions about the world without needing to prove someone else wrong.
So yeah, it *is* working.
And we couldn’t be more proud.
Heather is a professional copywriter who sporadically writes about life, parenting, and the pursuit of well-being at her blog: YummySushiPJs.