I’ve been reading a great deal online in the last few days about how we should speak in front of our daughters with regards to diet and health. I do feel that boys get left out of this a little bit with people forgetting that young boys spend a lot of time with their mothers and can also be influenced by what they see and hear their female role models talking about.
Little boys soon become convinced that boys are better than girls. Boys are stronger, faster, more powerful and generally superior to girls. It’s something that riles me a little bit. People say it’s a rite of passage and that all boys and girls go through this rivalry but I don’t agree that it should do unchecked. Which is probably what led to this exchange one day between my eldest son and I.
5 yo ‘J’s Dad is a really fast runner. He runs really far and he can beat loads of people’.
I happen to know J’s dad. I have discussed running many times with J’s dad. J’s dad also happens to be ex forces, in a regiment well known for physical prowess. I also happen to know the time in which J’s dad runs a marathon. My time is quicker.
Me ‘Actually I’m a faster runner than J’s dad.’
5yo ‘No you’re not because you’re a girl.’
Me ‘Yes I am. I know I’m faster. I ran a marathon faster than J’s dad’
This led on to a conversation about how far a marathon is, the time it took me to run it and comparatively how long it took J’s dad to run it. It could very well have been an educational conversation as well when you consider that we talked about what miles were and how many minutes in an hour etc. But that wasn’t the point I wanted to get home. I wanted him to understand that sometimes girls aren’t slower than boys, girls are equal to boys in many ways and that, actually, sometimes girls can be better at something than boys.
Maybe it was just be being competitive but I don’t want my boys to grow up with this patriarchal rhetoric that because you’re a boy you’re automatically better at something. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously but why shouldn’t boys see that sometimes the female role models in their lives can be just as good or even better at something than the men they know?
I want my boys to see that:
Women can be strong both mentally and physically.
Women can be powerful.
Women are to be respected for their achievements.
Women always deserve respect.
Women are equal to men.
I really hope the boys see all this in their home life, both in the relationship they see between their father and I but also in the things that they see their mother do whether it be work or exercise. Girls are obviously incredibly influenced by what their mothers say and do but so are boys. In a weird way running seems to be a way for me to show them just how strong their mother, a woman, a girl, can be.