Georgina Guedes

The tough questions

2013-02-28 16:21

Georgina Guedes

The other day, my daughter asked me to explain what a wedding was. I told her that it’s when a man and a woman love each other very much, and decide to spend the rest of their lives together. Then I tacked on, “Or a man loves a man, or a woman loves a woman,” just to make sure that I wasn’t programming in any prejudice from an early age.

She took it all on board without asking any more questions, and I was content that I had fulfilled my duties as a parent and custodian of her future moral values. She’ll never remember this conversation, but with any luck, the message will have sunk in on some subconscious level, and she won’t grow up thinking that all gay people should be stoned to death.

The tough questions

It’s been quite a week for tricky questions. She also asked me what the homeless person I’d given R5 to out of our car window wanted. I explained that there’s not enough work for everyone – work is what mummy does when she’s in the office, writing for people so that they give us money so that we can buy food and clothes – so some people have to ask other people for help sometimes.

She seemed to be taking this all in, so I asked her, “So why was that man asking us for money?” Her response: “Because you didn’t write something.” Which I feel is placing the responsibility for all of this rather unfairly at my door.

It did alert me to the fact that all this careful explaining that I do isn’t really being processed to quite the extent I’d like. But that brings me back to my original point that I’m hoping that this stuff goes in on a subconscious level. I don’t know at what age her full comprehension will kick in, but I’ll have my message straight long before then.

Starting young

We’re not an overly politically correct household. You should hear the names my husband calls people in the traffic (we’re working on it). I hope to raise my children with a sense of humour and a sense of fun, as well as a non-judgemental attitude. But I do believe that what we teach them from an early age informs the people that they will grow up to be, so I do my best to work out the early foundations for their future beliefs and educate them accordingly.

It’s sometimes tough to know where to draw the line. For instance, I don’t believe in teaching them typical gender roles. My husband and I share most of the parenting, cooking and cleaning, and no child of mine will be given duties or chores based on their gender. Unlike some parents, I don’t have a particular problem with the colour divide, and it doesn’t bother me that what has ended up being her cup is pink, while his is blue.

Preference is OK too

I gave both my kids cars and dolls to play with, and have been guided in future purchasing decisions by their preferences. I was gobsmacked to watch my son paging through his picture book the other day, past the fruit and the toys and the animals to the page with cars, which he then stared at, uttering “car” and “beep-beep” in awed tones.

I guess some things are hardwired.

This being the case, our parenting philosophy is to accept personal preference, but teach open-mindedness. Because to us, some things just aren’t worth worrying about, and some things, like homophobia, violence, oppression of women and bigotry, are.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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