Conversations with Toddlers: Not Because I Have to

This morning, I walked into the bathroom to help my 5 year old put toothpaste on her toothbrush. She looked at me with her big brown eyes ready to ask a question. For about two weeks now, she has been talking and asking a lot about marriage, getting older and being a mummy or daddy.

A few days ago, she said “I can’t wait to be six so that I can get married.” I said, “We’ll wait till a while after six years old” while laughing. She agreed to that, whatever it meant to her. Then she said, “I’m going to marry Scarlett,” so I explained what marriage is to her.

This morning’s question was, “Is Scar going to be a mummy when she grows up?” I responded, “If Scar wants to be a mummy, she can be a mummy.” Then she asked if her friend is going to be a daddy. I told her, “Only if he decides he wants to be a daddy.”

Normalize choice, rather than simply saying, “Girls become mommies and boys become daddies.” Simply saying that really perpetuates from a young age that this is what you’re expected to do. These expectations create stress and anxiety in adulthood for those who don’t meet the mark. No one needs it.

In that moment I thought about the countless times I’ve heard or read about adults dreading going to family gatherings, because the question on everyone’s mind is when are they getting married or having babies. That kind of pressure is insane and is possibly the cause of so many poor choices, just to fit into an ideal or expectation.

It’s difficult to change mindsets, but let’s start normalizing responses like, “If he or she wants to, he or she will….” This sets the right tone for young minds. Be a daddy or mummy if you want to, not because someone else wants you to.

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