You might wonder what parents, female superheroes and Miss Nigeria have in common? They all have the opportunity to be positive role models.
I know you are thinking, “How in the world is she going to connect these three things?” Stay with me here as these things are on my mind right now so let me show you how they all relate to making a positive impact on women and children.
For those of us who are parents, our children are constantly watching how we handle situations such as whether or not we are multitasking when we are with them, the way we talk to a waiter or waitress at a restaurant, how we treat people who are different from us, what we do and say about our body image issues or the way we act when we lose. We need to be aware that we are role models in both little and big ways for our children and how we act and what we say is modeling for them how they should behave now and in the future.
I try to remember that my kids are watching me to see how I navigate this crazy world we live in and they often emulate me and my behavior– both the good and the bad. I hopefully show them some positive things about me such as appreciating all the wonderful things that I have been given or achieved, showing the people close to me that I love them, trying to remember to say my “please” and “thank you”s, watching to see if I support my friends in good and bad times and showing them a healthy work/life balance.
I fall into the same traps that many other parents fall into like getting irritable when I’m tired or stressed, using some not so great language (I murmur “crap” under my breath a lot), running around being so busy that I don’t always enjoy the moment I’m in, not always expressing what I want or need and then throwing an adult tantrum when I don’t get want I want or need, being distracted by work when I’m at home (and by home when I’m at work) and not always loving the body that I have today.
I try to remember that other parents are having similar challenges and we don’t need to be perfect but we do need to be aware that our children are looking to us to see how they should act. I am a firm believer that parents need to be real people who show our kids that sometimes life is hard but we are trying to get through it with as much sanity and kindness as possible. But sometimes we crack and are not always good role models and we throw both sanity and kindness out the window. And that’s ok.
When that happens in our house, we just try to own it and say something like, “I know I shouldn’t have yelled at you and called you an ungrateful and entitled child yesterday and I’m sorry that I did. I wasn’t happy that you were just sitting on the couch when you should have been getting ready for school but I could have expressed my anger better. Can we talk about how we can both handle that situation better next time?”. . At least that’s the conversation I have in my head that I try to make come of my mouth and I’ll admit my wife does this better than I do. But I try. Try being the key word. We do not need to be perfect but we need to be real and tell our children when we make a mistake and then strive to do better. Because we want them to do that too.
I find it helpful to talk to other parents about issues or challenges I am having with my kids so that I can get it off my chest and go back home a more relaxed parent. I depend on my tribe of family and friends, both near and far, who I can connect with to share the challenges and joys of parenting. I find that if I can let off some steam with a friend over coffee or lunch or with a friend or one of my sisters over the phone, I’ll be less likely to blow a gasket around my kids. Just to hear that someone else is dealing with similar issues helps me go home and face the kids with a new perspective or a little less anger, thus allowing me to be a better parent and role model to them.
I was thrilled when I recently ran across www.shethorority.com as a great example of positive role modeling for women and girls. Some of the female actors of the DC shows, also called Arrowverse, starting talking about the similar themes to the stories and challenges they were hearing from the women and girls they were meeting at different events. They wanted a way to support and connect with them to help lift them up. As both a woman and a parent of two girls, I love this.
I know the Arrowverse shows as watching them is one way I spend quality time with my youngest. I have things I watch with each of my three kids. With my oldest, Jackson, we watch Indie movies together because he’s a movie buff. With my middle, Lucy, we love watching old sitcoms and are currently watching Family Ties. With my youngest, Ellie, we watch the DC shows. It’s our thing and we have watched The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and are currently watching Legends of Tomorrow.
These shows are a fun way that I get to connect with my daughter. She has a mind like a steel trap and remembers characters and plots that I may have forgotten, which is helpful because the characters overlap and develop among the shows. Which means that you have to watch multiple shows to get the full story lines and it is a smart way to get you hooked…and we are hooked. I love some of the zany plot lines like surviving a shipwreck only to be rescued by a sadistic scientist and his henchmen, coming back from the dead by soaking in an ancient hot tub, getting and giving advice to a young Barak Obama, fighting Nazi’s from an different Earth or going from an assassin to a time traveling superhero…and that’s just one (awesome!) character.
The shows are fun, full of action and have strong female characters that kick butt (often literally). Where else are kids able to see an equal ratio of female to male strong characters and superheroes? My daughter commented on the shows, “I like that there are so many girls and it shows that girls can be stronger than boys.” Love it.
That brings me back to www.shethority.com. The female actors of Arrowverse created a community for women to come together and discuss the unique challenges that women face. They are publicly championing causes they believe in and, in this case, creating a community that connects women to support each other, which makes us all stronger whether we superheroes or not. I did a quick search and saw that these same female actors are also speaking out publicly about other issues that they are personally experiencing such as mental health issues, abusive relationships, break ups, racism, body issues and body shaming. By being brave both on screen and off, they are bringing these issues to the forefront and allowing other females to feel connected to one another and not so isolated about challenging things they also might be experiencing.
While I was on http://www.shethority.com, I saw a video by Chyler Leigh in which she referenced a post she wrote called “Your stripes are beautiful”. Chyler plays Alex Danvers on Supergirl and the character she plays is smart, strong and brave…and also gay. I love that when I watch Supergirl with my daughter, she sees a strong, gay, female character on screen where her being gay is just one part of who she is, like her eye color. Brown hair, brown eyes and gay. Arrowverse does a great job representing LGBT characters (and they cover all four of the letters) and they treat the LGBT characters and their relationships the same as they do the straight ones. That is sending a positive message to kids to be who you are and that even when we may seem different in some ways, we are similar in others.
In her post, Chyler Leigh describes how one day she got out of the pool and her daughter asked her about her stripes, which are her stretch marks. She explained how you get stretch marks when you have a baby. She was feeling insecure about them but didn’t show it. Her daughter listened and before jumping back into the pool said, “You need to know, Mommy, that you are beautiful. Even with your stripes.” It was such an honest story that although Chyler might feel like her stretch marks make her less attractive and has body issues from being scrutinized in the spotlight for so many years, her daughter sees her stripes as a part of who she is and thinks both her mom and her stripes are beautiful. Her daughter might even think that she is more beautiful and unique because of her stripes. What a great way to be a role model to your kids to learn to accept your body and who you as you are today, stripes and all. It’s also a good reminder to the rest of us that even those who play superheroes are real people and they have their own fears and insecurities.
That brings me to Miss Nigeria. “Who is Miss Nigeria?”, you ask. She is the one who did not win the 2019 Miss World contest. I didn’t watch it and I’m not a huge fan of beauty pageants but I am now a huge supporter of Nyekachi Douglas, who was Miss Nigeria at the pageant. She was one of the final contestants and when the winner was announced, she jumped up and down with uncontained excitement and pure joy.
However, it wasn’t her name that was called as the winner, it was her friend, Toni-Ann Singh, who was Miss Jamaica. Miss Nigeria was absolutely thrilled that her friend won the competition even if it meant that she lost. Wow, that is one of the most selfless acts of friendship that I have ever seen. If you haven’t seen a clip of it, please Google it because it should be a new standard for all of us as to how we should support our friends. We women need to stick together and cheer each other on, even if that means that someone else wins and we lose.
I want my children to see their parents as positive role models, not perfect but people who try hard to be good and decent people most of the time. It’s ok to have flaws and cracks and let our children see them but we need to own up to our mistakes and bad behavior because we want them to learn to do the same.
When my children are in the house on technology or out in the world, I hope that they see positive role models like the Arrowverse females both on screen and off and Miss Nigeria to help guide them on their journey to adulthood. Let’s all remember that we are being watched by kids in the way we handle our anxieties, fears, wins and losses and let’s all strive to be a little more like Miss Nigeria.
P.S. Read Chyler Leigh’s post here:
Photo credit to Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images-
Daniel Leal-Olivas@lealolivas; ; lealolivasdaniel.co.uk