In our HERsay Today series, we talk with groups of women about topics that impact women uniquely today and discuss solutions to help move us forward, together. Today, a sad reality for all of us is the societal “othering” that creates insider/outsider “silo” mindsets, propagating fear, resentment, and mistrust about the “outsider” for the purpose of making the “insider” feel more confident and powerful. Unabashed actions and public speech resulting from bias, prejudice, and hate are more pronounced today than in recent history, a testament to the impact that political and community leaders and other role models have on our society.
That’s why this month’s HERsay Today focuses on “Mom Allyship: No More Silos”. More than any other person in our children’s lives, mothers have the ability to influence our children through direct teaching, teaching by example, and crafting the environment in which they live. As children grow and become aware of differences between themselves and others, their sense of belonging comes into question, and the onset of adolescence (hello middle school!) can lead to an even greater need for peer approval and greater risk for isolating or ostracizing those who don’t meet the approved standards. That’s why demonstrating to our kids that inclusion, acceptance, and striving toward understanding is so important and integral to our family values.
Those of us dropping off our kids at school, seeing them onto the bus, sitting on the sidelines or in auditoriums to watch then play or perform, taking them to birthday parties or scout meetings…we are surrounded by the moms (and dads) of our classmates and neighbors, and the way we communicate WITH each other and ABOUT each other will shape the way our kids interact with their classmates as well. About 20% of students age 12-18 report being bullied in school. That’s 1 in 5 students. Moms can help change that statistic.
For this special two-hour HERsay Podcast episode, we spoke with moms of kids who are often “othered” in schools; those who are Autistic, LGBTQ+, Muslim, Black, and Brown. Missing from this conversation, unfortunately, is the POV of moms of Asian children, particularly in light of misinformed opinions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, so we will be having that conversation in a future episode. What we hope you’ll take away from our special on Mom Allyship are the commonalities across all of the mom groups: the hope for their children to feel they belong, to be safe, and to not suffer repercussions for simply being “different” in some way. Race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, gender, wearing glasses, speech impediments, quirky senses of humor, unique interests….there are so many ways that we are ALL different from each other, and each elicits a crying out for understanding before judgment, criticism, and worse could occur.
Voices included in this episode are Rachel Rosner from Autism Up, Liz Dyer from the Real Mama Bears, Uzma Jafri and Zaiba Hasan from the Mommying While Muslim podcast, and Cheli English-Figaro from Mocha Moms. Of course, these women are a sampling of voices and not meant to convey the breadth of diversity within each group. We hope you’ll listen to the entire episode, but what we can share with you here and now is (SPOILER!)… one of the most impactful steps we can take toward creating a more understanding and unified world for our children and for ourselves, is to break out of the comfort zone of our own silos and seek out friendships with those who are not like us. In any way. Each of our guests shared that asking questions about things unknown or not understood is welcome and crucial toward creating better understanding and community among us. We hope you’ll join us in taking this important step wherever you are, today.