Happy New Year everyone! Despite the frigidly cold weather here in Virginia, January is my favorite month. After the holiday hustle & bustle, it’s great to reflect on the wisdom that one more year of experiencing the world has given to me. 2015 was full of so many major wins, but it also had certain aspects that I hope will get quickly washed away by the sands of time. Here is my list of 5 things that I hope we leave back in 2015 to be forgotten!
#1: Participation Trophies
I get it. Your child worked really hard and tried his/her best. When your child doesn’t win, seeing the frustration and/or let down in your child’s face sucks. But, guess what? That is how life works. Sometimes you try your hardest and someone is better than you. Sometimes you just didn’t put all your effort in and someone else did. Sometimes you should have won, but because life isn’t fair, you lost. Regardless of the reason for losing, it is a part of life. It builds character. It is how we learn to be better. Losing teaches kids that no matter how hard they try, there can (and probably will) be someone better than you at something. I know that not everyone is going to agree with me on this one, but can we please get rid of trophies for just showing up? I do not want my children to learn that being mediocre should get rewarded. I want my kids to get inspired to try their absolute hardest. When you give something your all, you can accomplish feats that may have seemed impossible at the start, and you find abilities in yourself that you didn’t know you were capable of. In my opinion, “Participation Trophy” Parenting leads to entitled children who believe greatness should be handed to them, rather than earned.
In 2016, let’s stop the coddling our kids and instead start teaching them that the desire to win, or fear of failure, can and should be inspiring.
#2: “I’m bad at math,” Being an Acceptable Thing to Say
Math is a learned skill. No one comes out of the wound and intuitively knows multivariable calculus. Reading is also a learned skill, however, you never hear people say, “I’m bad at reading”. This sentiment is perpetuating a dangerous myth that math ability is solely genetic and that if you don’t have it, you don’t have it. Being skilled at math is vital to succeed in life, so let’s stop dismissing its importance.
In 2016, let’s get rid of the notion that anyone is innately ‘bad at math’ and accept that we are all fully capable of excelling at math if we are willing to put in a bit of effort.
#3: Equating Being Feminine with Being Weak
In 2016, let’s all be strong, like a girl!
#4: Genderized Kids’ Toys!
No more pink LEGO shopping mall sets, PLEASE! I think there should be pink and purple LEGOs, since my sons like those colors, but can’t they just be in with the regular sets? No more movie character sets missing the female characters. Hasbro, I’m looking at you! #wheresrey We don’t a need separate girl and boy toys! Boys like playing with dolls and playing dress-up. Girls like playing with cars and science experiment sets. We are so close to closing the gap between genders, however the toy aisles of stores are putting us back decades. Plus, research has shown that “de-gendering toys will allow children and arguably society at large, to reap long-term benefits. ” By continuing to buy these toys and not raises our voices, we are prolonging a gendered marketing campaign that started in the 80’s and has become a beast in recent years. Let’s stand together & end this!
In 2016, let’s go back to just having toys. Buy your son a My Little Pony. Buy your daughter a Tonka truck. I promise that the world will not stop spinning.
#5: Lack of Support for Women in STEM
Women are just as capable as men are in excelling in STEM fields. Let’s stop studying the differences between men and women in their ability to handle hard sciences. Regardless of your gender and of what qualities men or women may or may not statistically do differently, you can excel in any field into which you put passion, dedication, and diligence. Let’s just leave Tim Hunt’s commentary about the “trouble with girls” in laboratories as a chauvinistic relic of the past and move on. We need to stop making women in STEM fields feel underappreciated and uncomfortable in their careers. Let’s get rid of this crazy stereotype of scientists as geeky male oddballs, as it is no longer relevant. Let’s celebrate the accomplishments of female heroes of STEM that have been ignored. Let’s let women know they belong in STEM just as much as men. We need more articulate, creative, innovative individuals entering into STEM and I know a lot of women who meet those criteria!
In 2016, let’s go out of our way to encourage, support, & nurture girls who are interested in STEM and women working in STEM fields.
Let’s all make 2016 a year of positivity, inspiration, and innovation!
Smile more. Worry less. Perform random acts of kindness. Encourage others. Nurture curiosity. Read more books. Ask more questions. If we all wake up each morning and try to figure out how we can challenge the status quo and make the world a better place, I promise you that 2016 will be an amazing year!
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