Raising Kids in a #MeToo Era

Before we begin, click here to learn more about Tarana Burke’s “me too.” movement. and everything they are doing to support survivors and end sexual violence.

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We, as a society, have had a heightened awareness of sexual harassment and abuse since 2017.

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Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

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 Yorker shined 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.

  1. 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.
  2. There are no more double-standards for men and women in their conduct. Everyone is held to the same scale of accountability and appropriateness.
  3. 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.

 

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My Father’s Day Wish

 

It’s been nearly a week since the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States. A gunman in Orlando opened fire on a nightclub.

Immediately, there were several ways to categorize the event.

Was it a terrorist attack? His parents were immigrants.

Was it a hate crime? It was a gay club.

No matter what the motive, there were some clear facts:

It was a shooting. With a military-style assault firearm.

While I don’t own guns, I’ve been to the gun range countless times. I’m an Eagle Scout and learned how to shoot a rifle when I was younger. Heck, I even had a gun manufacturer as a client many years ago.

I have friends and family that own guns – some for hunting. Some for protection. That’s not my recreation activity or protection of choice, but as long as they are responsible owners, I have no problem with it.

I am not a gun customer. I am not an advocate. But I’m not anti-all-guns-all-the-time, either.

This background is to set up my main point:

Nobody needs an assault rifle. Nobody.

So let’s, as a society, get them off the streets.

I do get the appeal of them. I mean, who doesn’t dream of reenacting the famous “say hello to my little friend” scene from Scarface? I definitely do.

But that’s a fantasy.

What’s real?

Human beings.

Now I have three little humans in my house. And they are getting older and heading to school. And out into the community.

The sad truth is that mass shootings are now commonplace in their life.

Another sad truth? The victims of these shootings are all somebody’s children, no matter how young or old.

I know banning a class of weapons won’t 100% stop all bad people from doing bad things.

But it may stop one. And make things harder for another. And limit the potential damage on another.

 

As a parent, that’s all I need to know.

Because what if the next mass shooter was in my city? My neighborhood? My children’s school?

Get these weapons of destruction – these weapons of war – out of the hands of civilians.

That’s my Father’s Day wish this year.

Thoughts On “Meternity”

12961491_10101010180961189_5322587186628313575_nYou’ve probably heard about Meghann Foye, an author who wrote a book about a woman faking a pregnancy in order to get maternity leave.

Her book, “Meternity,” and the mindset that goes along with it, created such a stir that Foye backed out of an appearance on Good Morning America.

I completely reject her concept that parental leave is “a sabbatical-like break that allows women and, to a lesser degree, men to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs.”

I’ve discussed my experiences from my three paternity leaves. No sleep. Eating crap to give you energy to bounce a baby from 3am-4am. And then driving the older kids to school, running to the grocery store, then running back to the grocery store because I forgot pretty much everything I went to the store to get. [Lack of sleep for the win!]

Women give birth to a human being out of their bodies. Not just a human being, but one that weighs as much as a bowling ball. Also, this bowling ball-sized person has been growing inside of them for the better part of a year. Thus, a good portion, if not all, of a woman’s maternity leave is spent physically recovering to the point of being a functioning human being again.

Don’t mistake this for “Eat. Pray. Love.” There is no period of rejuvenating self-discovery. I’ve seen maternity leave. Three times. [Don’t believe a Dad’s take here? Check out ScaryMommy’s thrashing of Foye’s position.]

Does Foye actually think that parents get a free pass on work? That sounds like an individual company issue and not a societal one. Companies should be applauded for flexibility for working parents. But if a company blindly allows parents to toss work on non-parents, a conversation with HR is in order.

Look, I clearly support parental leave. And I also support paid sabbaticals. Many companies, including mine, offer them for tenured employees. But to link the two as if they are equivalent is horrifically misguided.

My final thoughts for Foye? Thanks for starting a national conversation on this topic. Maternity trumps Meternity. Always. Best of luck with your book.

 

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International Women’s Day 2016: #PledgeForParity

International-Womens-Day-LogoAs a human being (let alone a father of a girl), International Women’s Day provides a platform to discuss the major topics of gender inequality.

This year’s theme is #PledgeForParity.

What does that mean? Here is the copy from the International Women’s Day website:

Worldwide, women continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievement.

And we have much to celebrate today. But progress towards gender parity has slowed in many places.

The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already glacial pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133.

So how do we want to celebrate International Women’s Day 2016?

We say by Pledging For Parity!

Everyone – men and women – can pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.

Please take the Pledge linked above and make your voice heard in this forum. And then go home, to work, wherever, and make your pledge a reality.

I’ve grown up around tremendously accomplished people of all genders, be it in business, government, and especially in family. My only hope for my children is that they don’t see any role, job, or opportunity out of their reach because of their gender. They should succeed…or fail…based on their own merit and skills and gumption.

Is that too much to ask for?