Editor’s Note: Babble and Disney Channel are both part of The Walt Disney Company. This post also contains spoilers from episode one of Raven’s Home: The Remix.
It was the end of the day at Juniper’s daycare, and the teacher pulled me aside. The look on her face told me there was great cause for concern.
“Juniper had a really tough day,” she said with a sympathetic frown.
I felt paralyzed with worry in that moment. The daycare workers only ever talk to me in a serious tone when something major is up. What could my daughter possibly have done to warrant that frown?
As I listened to Juniper’s favorite teacher lay out everything for me, my frenzied worry turned into a quiet frustration. My toddler had indeed been struggling that day, but not for the reasons I expected.
She had spent the whole day acting like the boys in her class.
At my daughter’s daycare, there happen to be three girls and a whopping 12 boys in attendance. Juniper is a very malleable kiddo and has expertly adapted to having a lot of guys in her circle of friends. She won’t hesitate to play loudly and roughly with them, dig into mischief alongside them, and keep her face equally as dirty as any of them would.
For the teacher, Juniper acting out like a little dude was a grave problem that required fixing. While I totally understand the need for my kid to listen to her teachers and act like a kind tiny human, there was also something deeper in our chat that didn’t sit right with me.
My daughter’s daycare message that day was painfully clear. Because of her “boy-mimicking behavior,” my daughter had seemingly gone from being “good” that day to something entirely different.
As I took in the response to Juniper’s actions, I realized something very important. We still have a lot of work to do.
As parents and caretakers, we still need to persistently fight to give our girls a world where they can exist as freely as our boys do. We need to build up in our future young women the desire to not only achieve the same feats as their male counterparts, but believe they have the birthright to easily do so. Most importantly, I need to give my daughter examples of an existence where her value is not summed up solely by her gender, but also with her intelligence, her heart, and her overall humanity.
Thankfully, I’ve found just the show that can help us create that world.
Yesterday afternoon, I was lucky enough to watch a sneak preview of Season 2 of the hit Disney series Raven’s Home. I’m already a huge fan of Raven-Symoné, who has proven herself to be an outspoken advocate for strong, empowered, and free-thinking women. The character on her show is an extension of that mindset, and it’s so empowering to watch.
Symoné plays Raven Baxter, a divorced mother of two sharing an apartment with her fellow divorced BFF Chelsea and her 10-year-old son Levi. Raven starts Season 1 of the show with the same psychic abilities she had in her previous series, That’s So Raven, except that this time, there’s a funny twist. The mom has recently discovered that her 12-year-old son Booker is equally psychic.
A lot of shenanigans ensue as Booker learns to harness his powers and trust in his visions, which often collide with the likes of his 12-year-old twin sister Nia. She’s a strong-willed, independent pre-teen who happens to be on the verge of doing something revolutionary at her middle school.
In the premiere episode of Season 2, Coach Spitz shares with his students that he’s written a school musical about his journey playing basketball and performing hip hop as a teenage boy. Booker sets out to star in the show, despite lacking the necessary skills to play the role. Both he and his mom even have psychic visions of him in the play that spur him forward, and by mid-episode, it seems that his dreams are totally in the bag.
That is, until Nia realizes that the role of young Coach Spitz should be played by the rightful performer — her friend Tess, a basketball genius and rapping extraordinaire. While Tess is perfect for the gig, however, Coach Spitz refuses to consider her for one particular reason: Tess is a girl.
It was at this point in the show when the feminist in me was ready to flip all the tables as Katy Perry’s “Roar” blasted in the background. Except, I didn’t have to. Because Nia flipped all the tables for me.
Not only did Raven’s twin daughter stand up for her female friend, but she also stands up to her adult male coach, challenging him to realize that anything a boy can do, a girl can do (and sometimes do better!). Coach Spitz eventually realizes the error of his ways in judging Tess because of her gender, and he allows her to audition. Once he sees Tess perform, she easily lands the starring role.
While my daughter is too little to watch Raven’s Home, I can’t wait for the day when I can share this episode with her. I also hope that by the time Juniper is Nia’s age, she’ll have already seen more dynamic female characters like Nia and Tess represented in the shows she loves.
For now, Juniper gets to enjoy the awesome doctor skills of Doc McStuffins and the adventurous antics of Sofia the First. That’s certainly a start, but knowing that there are shows like Raven’s Home teaching young girls to believe in more than just what society has taught them also gives me a whole lot of hope.
This incredible episode has inspired me to continue encouraging my daughter to dream as big as she possibly can. I’ll also be surely empowering her to live her life loud and proud, and teach her to challenge anyone who considers her behavior to be negative, just because it’s similar to how a boy might act. Basically, I’ll encourage Juniper to live more like the young ladies on this courageously fantastic show.
From this grateful mom: Congratulations to Raven’s Home for starting Season 2 off right!
“Remix,” the highly anticipated musical episode of Raven’s Home, airs on Friday, October 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Disney Channel. Also, be sure to check out “Legendary,” one of the eight original songs performed in the episode, below!