October 16, 2019
Instilling Family Values
By Dr Kathy Weston
Who could ignore the disturbing, depressing footage of men shouting racist abuse at England’s football players this week? As adults, we aren’t surprised to read this or to see grown men making Nazi salutes in 2019. My children, aged 13 and 10, were deeply shocked, and rightly so.
We talked about how the players may have felt when they heard the chants and how brave they were to carry on. We talked about why people feel able to abuse others in those contexts and about why name-calling is never ‘just banter’.
I referred back to our own family history, so that they could make better sense of what I was saying. I talked about the signs that used to go up in British shops in the 1950s ‘No Dogs or Irish’. I talked about their grandfather’s experience of losing all his young cousins in the Warsaw ghetto and how their Jewish great-grandmother had her jaw broken by the butt of a soldier’s rifle.
Racism is alive and well; some would say it’s thriving. It is our duty to nurture tolerant values in our children, a sense of decency and the knowledge that ‘if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem’.
I have been giving so many talks recently in girls’ schools on the topic of resilience, academic progression and self-esteem.
Delivering these talks merely emboldens my passion for teaching our girls to be fearless, to aim high and strive for academic and personal fulfilment. What threatens girls’ resilience often lies within; low self-esteem, poor digital hygiene, low expectations within family life, conflicted family relationships and a poor digital diet.
Our girls are also growing up in a macro-culture that values ‘perfect’. As parents, our job is to resist! Expose your daughters to positive, noble role models, develop a courage culture at home and set realistic, but high, expectations for them.
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