When I become an adult, I promise to listen to the voices of youth. I will consider–really consider–their arguments. Children are to be seen and not heard? That’s bullshit. I will refuse to quiet the voices of young people. I will acknowledge that I am not always right. I will realize that children, teenagers, and adults all have equal value as human beings. People are not necessarily like wine–they do not always get better with age. The problems and pain of young people are not to be ignored–I will never, ever say they have “easy lives”. I will never assume my opinions are correct just because I’m older.
When I’m a parent, I will not prescribe to the belief that “blue is for boys” and “pink is for girls.” If my little boy wants to paint his nails and play with dolls, I will encourage him to do so. If my little girl wants to play with toy trucks and dinosaurs, I will never stop her. Who said dolls and nail polish can’t be for boys, too? Who said toy trucks and dinosaurs can’t be for girls? My children will have a say in what they wear. I will never force them to match their socks or wear coordinating colors. And, of course, if my boy wants to wear a frilly pink shirt or dress, I will not stop him. His happiness will matter more to me than unfair gender stereotypes and expectations. The same will go for my girl. I will support risk-taking–if she isn’t the best athlete and still wants to sign up for soccer, I will encourage it. If he’s tone-deaf and wants to join a chorus, I’ll never tell him he can’t. My children will never be my little servants. If I make a mess, I clean it up. If they make a mess, they clean it up. I will never force my children to clean up my messes. You know what else? I will never, ever, ever spank or hit my children. I’m a firm believer that love, not fear, is the greatest motivator. I won’t shame my children, call them names, or yell in their faces. If they’re upset and want to talk to me, I’ll listen with open ears. If they’re upset and don’t want to talk to me, I won’t pry. Personal expression will be celebrated. I’ll make sure to frame their artwork on the wall if they want it, even if to me it only looks like scribbles in crayon. I want my children to feel special. If they tell me they hate me, I won’t punish them–we’ve all felt angry before. I won’t pretend I know everything. My kids will be introduced to many different musical genres, types of books, movies, TV shows, and art forms. I’ll teach them about different religions, because I don’t want them to grow up in ignorance. I’ll let my kids believe in Santa Claus and won’t shame them for it. They will be allowed to be excited for presents on Christmas morning–I won’t accuse them of “losing the true meaning”. I won’t mock my kids. I won’t call them brats. If they use a big vocabulary, I won’t ask them to dumb themselves down. I won’t try to be their hero; I will acknowledge that I am not the key to their problems. I believe in empowering, not enabling. I’ll never make them think that being angry is a sin. My kids will never be taught that gay people are evil. I won’t bring them up in a racist, sexist, homophobic environment. I’ll encourage them to question authority. I’ll encourage them to make discoveries and challenge themselves, but never to the point of extreme frustration. I will NOT compare my children, nor will I play favorites. I’ll try to let them arrange the furniture in their rooms however they look. Books will be everywhere; I want to foster a love of reading and learning. Most of all, I’m going to love them unconditionally. I don’t want my kids going to bed scared or frightened of me. I never want them to fear for their safety, whether physical or emotional. I don’t expect that they’ll like me all the time, but I hope they at least realize how much I love them.