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Kids and Language

As a mother of 2 small children I am continually astounded by their language development- the words they pick up and the way they manage to play with multiple languages already. As we're currently living in Vienna they are having to master German on top of English… so here are some of my ponderings on the linguistic theme.

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gender

It’s about more than just languages

multi-ethnic

Bringing up children is a challenge. No it’s not: it’s a heart- wrenching, tear- filled, laughter- inducing journey of a challenge. Sometimes I feel that I’m not up to it (like it’s a choice!), and then I’m nudged back into life by a comment made by a friend, or something I hear on the news. Today it was:¬†“Why is it so bloody difficult to find little non-pink baby dolls. It’s ridiculous in this day and age. ūüė° It actually freaks me out a bit.”

Whether part of a monolingual or multilingual family, we have certain¬†ideals that we want to fulfil, and beliefs that we want our children to grow up with. These may well differ depending on where we are from in the world but the majority of us now believe in an equal society, one in which girls and boys, black and white, straight and gay are treated with the same respect and compassion. As parents, we have the responsibility to our children to bring them up with open and accepting minds. And it’s not always as easy as we hope.¬†Raising children who see beyond the colour of a person’s skin takes a conscious effort on the parents’ part. We must deliberately teach respect and cooperation. We must destroy the “us versus them” mentality that has slowly permeated our culture.

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What is it with males and dresses?

boy in a dressI have a beef about men and dresses. Either they love them or they hate them. No middle ground- it’s a polarising topic. Many men would run as fast as they could in the opposite direction when even the merest whiff of dresses comes up, while for other guys the chance¬†to play dress-up¬†is irresistible, and they will never say no when the opportunity arises…

I’m half Scottish. Need I say¬†more?! I was brought up in a kilt- wearing environment, where at a party every single person there, male and female, would be wearing a skirt or dress (OK, OK- not a skirt, a kilt ;-)). I love the things, from the way they look and the colours they have to the way they make men behave- they bring out the gentleman in most men, and they obviously love the feeling and the comments they get from wearing one. Continue reading “What is it with males and dresses?”

Talking: how much is enough?

should-my-toddler-be-speaking-yetMy son, at 25 months, is not a natural talker. Strange, being brought up in a family with a chatterbox sister and very talkative Mum and Dad, that he hasn’t mastered the art more easily. At around the 20-month point I started thinking about whether this was normal or not, and now, 5 months later, I still ponder on the question of whether he’s a slow starter, or whether I should be thinking about professional help.

I read about this a lot in various forums: parents being recommended speech therapy for their kids because the majority or minority language isn’t on a par with the other kids in the playgroup. Since when did we get so keen on comparing? Weren’t we all taught that it wasn’t healthy to measure our children according to their peers, in terms of growth, number of teeth, ability to do long division etc? So why now does it matter if language production is a few months behind little Johnny at Kindy?

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No Gender December… for more than just toys.

pink_vs_blueLarissa Waters has written a very interesting article about gender-related toys, and how strong gender stereotypes that are imposed upon children at an early age can have long-term impacts, including influencing self-perception and career aspirations.

Gender inequality is perpetuated with more than toys: even when you look along bookshelves or try to buy neutral clothes for boys and girls there is a definite bias of colour and language, and with Christmas around the corner more and more of these items are being bought and taken home. Out-dated stereotypes about girls and boys perpetuate gender inequality, which can lead to very serious problems later on in life. Issues such as the gender pay gap are very contentious at the moment, and more serious areas such as domestic violence or workplace abuse are based on this original inequality.

Continue reading “No Gender December… for more than just toys.”

What do our kids really need?

Every morning I follow the same routine: send the kids off to Kindy and daddy off to work, and spend the next 30 – 45 minutes tidying up. Just how I like to spend my time. I haven’t yet managed to teach my two small ones to clear up after themselves (Daddy isn’t great at it either- but nor am I), so the living room is a litter of toys, books and crayons, discarded clothes, and other assorted tissues, scraps and things.

Toys though. They’re the ones that get me most. I love that my two have enough to be able to choose what they want to play with, without stereotyping them into gender- specific or age- specific brackets, but as I sit staring at a piece of Lego that has made its way to the office desk I wonder: maybe we have too much.

Continue reading “What do our kids really need?”

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