8th March is International Women's Day ~ יום האישה הבינלאומי and so I wanted to mark this day with an excellent video I watched on the following website https://www.ted.com/talks. The talk was given by Caroline Paul, entitled, "To raise brave girls, encourage adventure." Caroline Paul's talk really resonated with me. I had personal experience with the different way in which parents bring up their sons and daughters. As the youngest of three children, even though I felt loved and appreciated whilst I was growing up much to my annoyance I was always mollycoddled. I resented the way my older brother and sister were treated differently and given privileges and freedoms which were denied to me. Parents need to give their children the opportunity to grow, to experience new things and to trust their intuition. For example, when I was seven years old I remember my mother saying to me, "you can play outside as long as you are within clear view of the balcony, I want to be able to see you from the balcony." Being an obedient child, I listened to my mother's instructions however I felt confused with what she was asking me to do. Her request was like an invisible tether, it was very restricting and meant I really couldn't go very far at all. So I made the most of being outdoors and occupied myself by observing a large ant's nest which was conveniently located within the confines of the garden outside our house. It's a wonder I did not become an entomologist by profession as I spent hours watching the ants and I learnt much about their colony, distribution of labour and their behaviour. Then later, when I was in my 30's and my husband and I were living in France, I went to visit my parents in Istanbul and I couldn't believe it when my father tried to hold my hand as we were about to cross a busy main road. I told him, "I can't believe you just tried to hold my hand, I am not a child." I couldn't understand how my parents chose to overlook the fact that as an adult I managed perfectly well living abroad as an expatriate but the minute I returned to Istanbul it was as if in their minds I regressed back to being a child in need of their protection. My father has since passed away but unfortunately I still have the same discussions with my mother.
As Caroline Paul says in her talk, children and especially girls need to be encouraged. Caroline Paul relates a story where she observed a couple who appeared to be anxious and most of what they said to their daughter when she was outside was in the form of cautionary words, such as "Be careful", "Watch out!" or "No". She says her friends were not bad parents but were only doing what most parents do which is cautioning their daughters much more than they caution their sons. The subliminal messages behind these words of caution were that girls are perceived to be more fragile and in more need of help. "This is the message we absorb as kids and this is the message that fully permeates us as we grow up. Women believe it, men believe it and as we become parents we pass it onto our children and so it goes." My hope is that people take the time to watch this educational talk by Caroline Paul and are inspired to treat their children in a more egalitarian way.