I didn’t walk in the Women’s March in January. Honestly, it didn’t really cross my mind to look into it at the time. Not because I didn’t care, but more because I had other things going on that particular weekend. Still, as I scrolled through Facebook later that day, and saw many friends and family members sharing photos of themselves with giant smiles and empowering signs, I couldn’t help but feel inspired.
I was left without words, actually. But I knew I had to show my 10-year-old daughter those photos of the millions of women — and men — standing together for a cause. It would turn out to be the first time I ever talked to her about feminism.
Sure, I teach her about being kind to others, remaining strong in her convictions, and believing in herself. But after seeing those photos, I wanted her to know more — and I was curious about what she already knew.
So I called my daughter into the living room and told her I wanted to show her something. Then I pulled out my phone.
“There was a march today,” I told her, “and it was about women’s rights. I wanted to show you some pictures from it.”
For the next few minutes, we scrolled through photos of women from all over the world; not just in the United States. I listened as she said things like, “Wow!” and “Woah!” and I knew she was impressed, much like I was, by the sheer numbers of strong women who had come together.
In some photos, there were girls marching who seemed just about her age. I made sure she saw them, too.
“Do you know what equal rights means?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she responded quickly.
“What does it mean?”
“It means that things are the same for everyone.”
“That’s right. Did you know that sometimes things are not the same for women as they are for men?”
“Yes. In school we’ve been talking about how women don’t get paid as much as men.”
“Yes. And in our writing journals, we were asked to write about a change we hope to see in the world, and I wrote about that.”
“You did? Well, how does that make you feel that women don’t get paid as much as men sometimes?”
“Sad. And mad.”
“Good. I want you to be mad, because you’ll change the world one day. I know it.”
We smiled, and hugged. And while there was so much more that could have been said, I left it at that for now. I didn’t talk to her about everything feminism can represent, because some of those are subjects I’ll cover when she’s a bit older. For now, I just wanted her to see those photos, and sit with them like I had. Because history has been made by similar movements like these in our country’s history, and I am constantly inspired by all the strong, beautiful, capable women I have in my own life as examples.
And just as in January, I’ve been inspired again this month by the beautiful tributes to women I’ve seen in my newsfeed for March — National Women’s History Month. I think we’re moving in the right direction by celebrating the women in our lives and recognizing the contributions to this world made by women every day.
Although I have a daughter that I want to teach about all the powerful women that have come before her — paving the way to make her dreams possible — I want my boys to know all about those strong women, too. And, while schools have gotten better, we still have a long way to go to recognize the accomplishments of great women in history.
But sometimes, it’s hard to know how to teach what should be such a simple concept — that women are amazing, smart, talented and just as capable at accomplishing great things — to our kids in every day life.
For me, teaching my kids about women’s history means making sure they know stories from the women that they are related to who have done great things. We can do this by pulling out a photo album, and sharing a story about a family relative.
It means helping them learn from the history books — and from the women who are currently making a difference every single day. Or from grabbing a novel off the shelf with a strong female protagonist and reading it to them at night.
Teaching my kids about national women’s history month looks like showing them that although I pride myself in my work raising them, there is more to me than being a mother.
It looks like setting an example of hard work both inside and outside my home, and never being silent on things that matter. (You can do this by sitting down with your kids and explaining to them what it is you do for work.)
It means guiding them to know great women in their community and respecting women in leadership roles all around them. We can involve our kids in learning about female politicians, or encourage them to do something nice for their teacher or another female leader in their life.
It means talking to them about hard issues that women face, and letting them know where I stand. We can do this by donating to a cause or a woman’s organization that we support.
And, it looks like showing both my girl, and my boys, that a woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be. We can talk to our kids about female stereotypes, and teach them that it’s OK to break those societal rules.
And, celebrating national women’s month means showing my kids that I support all women in my circle and respect the choices they make, and am grateful for all they do to make a difference. We can get involved in helping a woman we know personally that needs support, thanks, or encouragement.
I believe we’ve come a long way regarding issues, but there is still so much work to be done, and I’m grateful to the women I know that are fighting every day to break down stereotypes, and fight for causes important to women. And, what I can do, as a mother, is make sure my kids hear all about it — so that the next generation knows the amazing power of a strong, smart, capable woman in their everyday lives.
And maybe one day, we won’t need a month dedicated to women’s history to remind us why it’s important. Because our kids will already know it.