The Blog

How I'm Teaching My Young Children To Become Feminists

I know I shouldn't have let it get to me, I should have laughed it off, after all they are only six-years-old. But when my son and his friend told me that they thought boys were better than girls, I couldn't hold back and the feminist in me came to the fore.

I know I shouldn't have let it get to me, I should have laughed it off, after all they are only six-years-old. But when my son and his friend told me that they thought boys were better than girls, I couldn't hold back and the feminist in me came to the fore.

"Boys, do you know who the two most powerful people are in the United Kingdom? They are women. The Queen and the Prime Minister. Possibly the most powerful person in Europe is also a woman..." I continued my speech in an attempt to restore the equilibrium in the house while two baffled looking boys stared back at me.

My monologue probably went straight over their heads, as they shimmied across the room to battle with their dinosaurs, but I was left hopeful that at least one of my points sunk in.

It struck me that since my son started school he has begun to notice new differences in gender. It pains me that, just as the boys did when I was at school, the distinctions that he and his friends are making is that girls are a weaker sex.

When I had my daughter it was immediately clear that there are many obvious differences between boys and girls in behaviour and development. My daughter is naturally more mothering and despite being almost four years younger than her brother, she will try to dress him, feed him and wipe his bum given a chance. She is extremely independent, but she is also fearless and boisterous.

While I am in no doubt that in three years time I will hear her say that girls are better than boys, this gender bias has still left me wondering what I can do to educate them about equality. It's a hard lesson to teach when, by example, I am the person who continuously cleans after them and does the bulk of the household chores and childcare.

I chose to give up full-time work so that I could be their main carer, play their games and teach them the names of hundreds of dinosaurs, which is by no means an easy task - try saying pachycephalosaurus at 5.30am. Yet is this role less valued in their eyes than my husband's?

This year I did the Three Peaks Challenge (climbing the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales in 24 hours), I also ran my first half-marathon since becoming a mum. Some of the motivation behind these challenges was that I wanted my children to see how capable women are. This ideology is also a driver in my determination to make my business Mama Life London succeed. I want them to understand that sex doesn't determine your success, that feminism is about equality.

Perhaps one day in an ideal world, I won't feel like I need to stand up for myself in front of two six-year-old boys. But while there is still work to be done in teaching the valuable lessons of equality I want to raise my children to understand these fundamental notions:

1. Crying isn't just for girls. Nothing irks me more than hearing this. Crying is not a weakness. Top US psychologist, Lena Aburdene Derhally's article in the Washington Post exposes the negative consequences of teaching your son that crying is for girls. Crying is a coping mechanism and a perfectly normal way for all children to express their feelings. Girls shouldn't be the only ones who are allowed to show emotion.

2. No one is better than you. Have self-worth, confidence and don't be afraid to speak up if you feel you are genuinely being treated unfairly. You are deserving of every chance in the world.

3. Show them who the real superheroes through history are. The people who broke the mould and stood up for what is right, be it men or women. Teach them not to let their differences get in the way of their aspirations.