I found a great quote on Twitter this week, I don’t know who said it so I can’t credit it, but it just about sums up my philosophy so I’ll share it with you here:
‘I don’t know how to be a good parent so I just focus on being a good person and I hope my children are watching’.
They ARE watching, very closely, and that phrase ‘being a role model’ doesn’t even begin to describe how much your children are internalising from just being with you and experiencing how you live your life day to day. Which doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, just that if you’re a basically decent person who thinks a bit, you’re going to be doing alright.
I met some brilliant mothers yesterday who had given up a day to try to make some change to society and I couldn’t help thinking what lucky kids they have, with mothers who manage to be both kick-ass and really funny at the same time and who go out there and take action to change the world. The group I joined in London were part of Child Eyes, a campaign to get porn out of children’s eye-level in newsagents and supermarkets.
I am so impressed by these mothers of younger children who manage to be engaged with wider issues at the same time as… well, having young children. Enough said. When my boys were little I used to ask newsagents to move newspapers like the Sport and the Star, and I remember how excruciatingly embarrassing it was to be talking to my local newsagent about women in thongs thrusting their bums in the air. I didn’t march to Downing St dressed as a children’s book character, carrying banners and singing songs though.
But of course my children noticed my small actions, and by the time my daughter came along I was more practised and less embarrassed, and now they are older here I am marching to Downing St carrying banners and singing songs! When I take action I still feel a bit like the suffragette mother in Mary Poppins and I couldn’t stop singing ‘Votes for women step in time..!’ to myself as I walked to the station yesterday.
It was wonderful to chat to passers-by in London and realise just how many ordinary people agree with the aims of the Child Eyes and No More Page 3 campaigns and I hope that the parents we met were encouraged to take some little actions themselves. Not just to create a better environment for children, but to show their own kids that you don’t have to go along with what society feeds you, you can question it and take action to confront it.
It is in these little actions from us that our children learn, for example, that they can say ‘no’ to internet porn, and being a role model in this way is far more effective than worrying about them and fumbling through the inevitable ‘internet porn chat’ we’re all supposed to be having with our kids these days.
When I got home I read an article in the Saturday Times about how to deal with the internet porn thing, mother to daughter, and found this quote:
‘Point your children toward the debate so that they know there is one. Don’t let porn culture be their only guide. Let your children know there are people and groups challenging this’.
I do happen to know who that quote was from so I can credit it here.. um.. ahem, that one was from me.