Parents, if you do nothing else, please: let your children be themselves.
I honestly believe that it is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. That it is okay to be different. That it is okay not to conform. That it is okay not to be what society tells us to be.
In many ways, I am a dreadful parent. My children have been in full time childcare since they were each 6 months old. I would rather rub my face on a pile of stinging nettles than spend a microsecond inside the hell that is soft play. I am more likely to take my children bra shopping with me, or down the pub, than I am to indulge in a single moment of crafting with them.
And sometimes I beat myself up for all of that, and more. It only takes half an hour on social media for any of us to feel we are dramatically failing the Parenting Test.
But there is one thing I think I have got right. Because I have two children who are, quite frankly, exactly what they want to be. The photo on the left is Jamie, on the day he found a bow at school, and wore it in his hair all day. When I asked him why: “Because I wanted to. And, because, if I do it, then other boys, who might want to wear a bow but are worried about it, will know it is okay.”
And the photo on the right is my firebrand of a daughter, who has spent this morning training with her (all male) football team, and now, this afternoon, in this photo, was training with our local men’s side, as part of her birthday present which was to be their mascot today.
I have two children who know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it is okay to be yourself. That you really can be absolutely anything you want to be.
And I cannot tell you how proud that makes me