Something that you may not think about as something they need to learn early in life is finances. Too often we learn about money too late in the game, with our first credit card or first work study job – to which all the money is then used paying for that credit card. Some people recommend combining house chores with allowances – rather than just giving them money as an “entitlement” while others recommend establishing savings “jars” for now spending, for a goal, and for charity. My girls are natural savers, though I know we should get better at the general budget part. They should also experience what an “investment” is, and what “entrepreneurship” is, even it’s just a lemonade stand.
Teach them to love and respect their body and to demand respect from others
This is a big one, and especially, unfortunately, for dads of girls. Just the other day a father shared on social media how his daughter was told – by an older woman, no less – that the boy who harassed her most likely “liked” her, and that’s how boys do it. My response? No. Nyet. Nein. Non. There are no excuses for anyone to touch or manhandle your child without permission.
By loving their own bodies, teach them to treat it well, that candy and junk food and soda, while they taste great – is not a staple of the diet, but a “sometimes” food. That’s a hard thing to teach, especially when there are so many birthday parties and bake sales and movie munchies to experience. Just remember that they learn by example. If you limit your intake and keep the fridge stocked with fruits and veggies – chances are they will too. Childhood obesity among Latinos is at an all-time high because bad food is usually cheap for working class families, and many Latino neighborhoods are nutrition deserts. Helping them understand that could help.
Hygiene is important too especially when they enter the pre-teen days. Brush your teeth with them at night to check they are doing it right, and teach them your face-washing routine. Loving your body may also mean loving that curly, hard to brush hair, or those freckles, or those glasses. Let them know what you know – that they are beautiful creatures. And yes, if you have boys, they need to know that too.
Justice, equality and equity
To me, the tragedy of a bullying situation is not that there is a bully, but when no one witnessing the situation does anything. Justice is not simply relying on institutions to enforce fairness, but about taking it upon ourselves to do the right thing (for a great example, just peep the video below). Sometimes it means sticking up for the bullied kid, sometimes it means sticking up for yourself. Understandably equality can be a complicated topic – and there are nuances and levels that children often don’t get. In the early days, with my young ones, we started with the idea that all families are real families, all people deserve to be happy and deserve to be loved, and that no one should think themselves better or less than anyone else – that seniority and authority are different than value. Finally, for equity, we can all start by teaching our children that for some people it may take longer or more effort to accomplish the same things someone who is lucky enough to have money and other resources can. My eldest went to a performing arts camp normally reserved for inner city kids – it was an eye opener to know that for many kids this was their only exposure to dance, singing and theater classes. I remember speaking to her that even with the little resources these kids had – some of them still shined brightly and tried their hardest.