Role Models: May We Be Them, May We Raise Them


Adulting can be hard. Flipping hard, and no more so than when you have little people to raise, kids completely reliant on you to love them and keep them safe. You are their role model too, their values are based on yours and it is primarily down to you, how they treat others, and perceive the world around them.

It’s a huge responsibility being a parent, and one we all want to get right, as right as naturally flawed humans can be of course. That’s the key though isn’t it, being honest about your weaknesses is a strength, to say sorry when you fail, to explain things in as balanced a way as possible, to highlight when people do wrong, to offer your children a strong grounding, and the tools to question, and to not stop questioning.

The recent tragedy in London is heartbreaking beyond measure.

It’s so hard to know how to discuss events like this with children, to make sense of the nonsensical, but there are age-appropriate ways, firstly reminding them they are safe, and that these shootings are not commonplace.

The Week Junior has more tips over on their FB Page HERE I found useful.

It’s tragic times like this that my own role as parent really hits me, my responsibility to educate, inform and importantly, lead by example. Particularly as my wise beyond his years, 7 year old, Oliver, asks me philosophical questions most days (many I’m struggling to answer myself, aged 36). I’m still trying to work out why we’re born in the first place, a questioned posed to me over Rice Krispies last week!

A child maturing by the hour coupled with horrific events, a worrying political climate with Trump et al. and Brexit, along with Global Warming, inequality, sexism, racism and never-ending wars the world over, means we can often feel utterly powerless and depressed…I’ve started to force myself away from the news in a bid to keep my sanity… Thank goodness for my blog: my therapy and the distraction of kittens being tickled on YouTube my youngest Alexander, 4, could watch all day.

As with everything hard in life, of course, light will break through the dark clouds, more kitten videos will be produced, and hope exists. It’s right there, growing within our children. It’s what we have, whom we need to fight for, and be strong for; the future depends on it (literally).

The devastating threat to our safety and the recent US elections have reawakened us all somehow, they’ve forced us to appreciate the rights and security we so took for granted. Our work is not done.

We’ve realised (the wise amongst us anyway), that together we must collectively fight the good fight.  Yes, it’s dismal to be battling in the first place (it’s 2017 after all) but it’s time to step up and ‘be the change we want to see in the world’. To show that we won’t be belittled and made to live in fear and that micro politics can make a difference.

…I’m raising feminist sons in my boys, ensuring my kids respect others, even those who might disrespect them (because when others go low, we don’t follow, Michelle Obama style), and I’m teaching them that charity is vital, that we must march, blog and share what we believe in, we must offer a voice to those who feel silenced and that we unflinchingly believe that good will triumph evil.

They ask questions and I try to answer them.

We watch videos on the planet and chat about ways to support the environment, we recycle together and limit our meat and paper consumption.

I don’t fear the political chats.  They know they can ask me anything.

Funnily enough, as a 4 year old, I asked another child in the school playground who she was voting for in the election, stating I was supporting MP Micheal Foote. My parents were called in to see my teacher and were asked if they were brainwashing me. I was just a smart kid who asked a lot of questions, and my parents discussed politics a lot. My party trick was a Margaret Thatcher impression at 3 too.

Those conversations, being privy to those discussions, even if I didn’t always understand them, helped me to grow up feeling informed about the world  and the way it works, and that my say, my voice, my vote mattered.

…As with so much of Trump’s farcical coverage I cringed through the VT of him ignoring Merkel’s requests they shake hands and Oliver behind my shoulder asked me to show him the clip. He watched in disbelief at Trump’s actions remarking, ‘Trump is more immature than me and I’m 7, what a bully’.

What a bully indeed. Children can read body language and Trump behaved like the man-toddler that he (as usual). It was laughable.

I believe in the power of micro politics-to standing up for what I believe in. If I witness casual sexism and racism online or IRL, I oppose it. A lady asked me if I had a bomb in my suitcase as a joke on the train, last week. How is that funny? I asked why she’d say such a thing. Why she felt that was appropriate? That’s micro politics in action…

Chatting to my good friend Uju of Babes About Town about motherhood and being a role model, I wanted to share her wisdom here,

‘In terms of being a role model, well when it comes to the kids I’m not even sure I think of myself as a role model. Heck, I can hardly believe I’m responsible enough to keep two humans alive, let alone be their role model! Although I realise that I’m their greatest influence so I do the best I can to impart my values and also what I learn along the way (my fave quote of late (by Pema Chodron): You are the sky, everything else it’s just the weather).
I’m not afraid to have discussions with the kids on any issue – life, politics, death, race, sex, the universe – even though I don’t have all the answers, it’s essential that they feel safe and open enough to ask questions.
I love the conversations we have, and this started from a very early age when people used to wonder why I was ‘speaking grammar’ (Nigerian expression lol) with my kids.
What it’s led to is that we can talk about anything and they are quite confident in expressing themselves and sharing from the heart. Beyond talking, I always say that our kids are having an immersive education in what we care about culturally e.g. the arts, eating out, good music etc.
By taking them on all these mini adventures since they were tiny, they’re growing up with a sense of the world as their playground. I think this is especially important for boys and black boys in particular, as very often they can feel shut out from mainstream cultural spaces whether that’s formal theatre or literature. My boys are naturally drawn to sport but I love that they can speak as eloquently about a movie or a show they’ve watched as they can about Sanchez and Giroud!’

We need these smart, informed, determined kids of ours to grow into adults who want to and will, make a difference to this world, and we play a vital part in that. The biggest part.

Do you discuss politics with your kids?

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