We, as a society, have had a heightened awareness of sexual harassment and abuse since 2017.
A series of investigative journalism pieces brought to the surface a range of allegations against prominent celebrities and personalities that ranged from inappropriate to criminal.
For example, Ronan Farrow‘s award-winning piece in The New Yorkershined a light on the illicit behavior of media producer Harvey Weinstein. Several months later, Weinstein was arrested and charged with rape and other crimes.
The dominoes kept falling, with Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, and other prominent men falling from favor due to allegations of sexual abuse, ranging from walking around naked to sexual assault.
The series of allegations and reports saw the rise of the #MeToo hashtag on social media, where other victims shared their stories or lent their support. People who once felt silenced became confident in shedding light on mistreatment and crimes.
You can look at some of these situations and say, “that’s how men acted around the office in their day.” OK. But it was never right. “Permitted because their subordinates and employees had no agency to speak up and ask them to stop” is vastly different from “the right thing to do.”
As a parent, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to raise kids in this #MeToo environment. How does this change how we talk to our kids?
My conclusion: This landscape actually makes parenting easier.
Let me unpack this.
People that do bad things, no matter who they are, get punished. The actions of some of the most famous people in the world catch up to them. Their money and connections and resources can’t help them escape justice.
There are no more double-standards for men and women in their conduct. Everyone is held to the same scale of accountability and appropriateness.
Your voice matters. People will believe you.
Each of these are important lessons for kids to hear. Victims are to be heard. Allegations are to be investigated fully. You are accountable for your actions.
As parents, we have to arm our kids with a zero-tolerance policy for someone violating their space. We need to equip them with the insight to protect themselves from potentially harmful situations.
Most importantly, we have to impress upon them how to treat all people with respect.
And that starts now. When they are little. Because the things we teach them as kids inform how they will act as adults.
The line of acceptable behavior is no longer blurry; we can make sure our kids always stay on the right side of it.
It’s simple for my kids: Everyone is given dignity, kindness, empathy, esteem. And if someone crosses that line with them, they need to know how to stay safe, find help, and call for justice.
We watch the movies. Read the books. Dress up in a family themed costume for Halloween (true story!).
I even have a few toy lightsabers in my office, hidden from the kids so they don’t destroy the house. (There is a pretty good chance I shadow-spar and make the iconic sounds on the regular.)
Our kids look at the lead characters as role models. Princess Leia. Luke Skywalker. Rey. Finn.
Generations of youth raging against the machine to make the world a better place. I dig it.
From Han Solo, Chewbacca, and R2D2 to Poe Dameron, Maz Kanata, and BB-8, from Darth Vader and the Emperor to Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke, these characters are part of our kids’ childhood.
I absolutely love sharing a pop culture universe with my children. I love that characters and stories that resonated with me also resonate with them. I love that the evolution of the series gives them “their” Star Wars that we can discover, discuss, and enjoy together. (I still believe that Rey is a Kenobi.)
Much like Luke, Leia, Rey, and Finn, our kids will have a choice about what kind of impact they want to have on the world. Rebellion or Empire. Light or Dark. Good or Evil.
And hopefully the messages of empowerment, hope, and love will guide them in the right direction.
Paraphrasing Luke in Return of the Jedi, the Force is strong in our family. I have it. My wife has it. Our kids have it.
It’s hard to transition from preschool to kindergarten.
And our 5-year-old did all four of these in literally a few days.
Thursday, he left the only house he has ever lived in. Friday, he was at camp with some of his best pals. Saturday, he spent the day with grandparents. Sunday he flew across the country. Monday, he settled into his new house. Tuesday, he started kindergarten.
That’s head-spinning, especially for a kid.
It has not been surprising that he has had some meltdowns and tantrums the past few nights as he processes all of these changes.
After one recent fit, he calmed down and snuggled quietly next to me.
“Daddy. Nobody knows my name here. The teachers keep asking me what my name is. I miss my friends.”
He spent the past two preschool years with the same kids and even the same teachers. His new school has lots of enrichment specialists – and even the best teachers need a few days to learn everyone’s name, especially teachers he may only see one a week.
As crushing as this was to hear, I was so proud of him. He could articulate the biggest change in his life – he went from someplace where everyone knew him to a totally new environment where they…don’t.
As I write these words, I’m sitting on the carpeted floor of my living room – the furniture removed – surrounded by filled boxes and empty walls.
We lived here. And our life was here.
That life is going to continue, but just in a different city.
We can talk more about that adventure later. But tonight all I can think about is what happened between these walls.
Our home has returned to being a house. Just as it was when we moved in over seven years ago – totally empty, but filled with the hope and promise of the future.
Back then, we had no kids; our first was on the way and would be born five days after we arrived here.
We took possession of a house and made it our home.
I’m sitting here looking around and smiling at the memories popping from every corner. I remember a kid’s birthday party where all the guests decorated cookies on a tablecloth spread around the kitchen floor. I remember my daughter’s first words (“Hi, Dada!”). I remember the Star Wars trilogy marathon with all our kids (and how we fast-forwarded most of the movie because it was a biiiiiiiiiit too scary). I remember all the times grilling my signature meal (turkey burgers, corn, sweet potato chips) while holding a strong cocktail. I remember dragging the kids on sleds around the backyard. I (mostly) remember all of our adults-only bounce-house parties. I remember walking to the subway station and I remember all the daycare pickups and I remember the sick kids and I remember the tears and the laughs and the joy.
Our family happened within these walls. We moved in as a married couple with
a dog. We leave with three kids – and the dog. Everything else was here.
And now we are leaving.
But our home goes with us. The house stays behind for someone else to have a turn. And make memories. And host parties. And maybe raise a family if they want.