A journey for parent and child
My teenager doesn’t love math. That may not be an issue for most people, but I do love math. I have a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo and taught Math in secondary schools right up until I started maternity leave. As my child grew up, we played math games and I revealed all kinds of special tips and tricks to help comprehension. I shared my love of the subject, but, in the end, my kid doesn’t love it.
Expectations and Assumptions
When children are born, we all have some hopes and dreams for what our children will become. We have expectations about the kinds of things they might pick up from their parents, the patterns they will follow, the possibilities in store for them. So, we share a bit of ourselves, enrolling our children in activities that interest us, playing games that we enjoy, and taking vacations that we think will be meaningful for everyone. Our efforts will influence who our children become but not always in ways we hope.
What parents teach…
We learn a lot from our parents. Sometimes it is what we should do and sometimes it is what not to do. What is important is that space is left to allow a child to become their own person regardless of whether or not that becoming fits with the expectations and assumptions of the parents.
Our children do not have to love the same things we love. They do not have to study what we want them to study, pursue the same career paths, and marry and have children when we want them to do so. They are their own person and even though it takes time to discover what that means, our love for our children should allow us the willingness to give them space to figure it out.
What about gender and sexuality?
For years we have assumed that gender is binary: male or female and we have assumed that the natural tendency is to prefer someone of the opposite gender. Over time, however, we have come to recognise that there is, in fact, a continuum of gender and sexuality the understanding of which continues to evolve. As a result, individuals who are outside of our binary understanding of gender and whose sexuality is not heterosexual have now received protection from prejudice and discrimination in Ontario and Canada . The updated health curriculum in Ontario acknowledges this evolution in understanding which can help to build awareness among young people thus potentially reducing stigma and prejudice overall.
What about at home?
As parents, we are not only confronted with the possibility that our children will not love math like we do, but also that they may challenge our understanding of gender, sexuality and relationships. What then? In the midst of our struggle to understand something that may be extremely foreign to us, how do we provide support to our children in their efforts to develop an understanding of who they are? Should parents be the ones who try to push their children to conform to a particular standard of gender and sexuality? Or should parents support their child’s journey regardless of how difficult it might be for both parent and child? The decision is not easy. Either way, it will influence our relationship with our children? What would you do?
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