March 16, 2018

Letting Our Daughters Be What They Want to Be

A contributed blog post for the Help A Sister Up blog series

By Chris Roberts and Morgan Roberts

 

We are here for our children, not the other way around. This simple sentence is something that each of us needs to hold true.

 

As a parent, my sole focus is to ensure that my daughter has the best chance to be the best she can be in whatever she chooses. My role is to open her eyes to all the possibilities that exist on this planet to do good in the world, and hopefully be able to answer whatever questions or concerns she has as she evaluates, navigates and works out what and who she is going to be as she emerges out from under the protective shield that we, as parents, keep in place as they grow and evolve.

 

The fight is not only “out there” but also internal in nature. The simple fact is that we do it to ourselves. I watch my daughter work out how to fit in and how to navigate the balance between being seen as the hacker who can also let flight with arrows straight and true and the young lady concerned about various shades of makeup. Why does she have to fit in? Because society reminds her of it every day. Everywhere we look, we are expected to conform to certain norms be they physical, virtual or mental in nature. I am proud of her for shopping at places that focus on body positive forms and publicize what/who/where they do testing – AND that she’s not interested in boys yet.

 

This is the very daughter that also took the science book, What If? by Randall Munroe and read it cover to cover, while at the same time plotting where all the Sephoras were in NYC for our upcoming visit last year. She has found balance – she is able to be both the geek and the lady and doesn’t feel as if she needs to excuse either part of herself to society.

 

So, when it comes to STEM or STEAM, depending on which you’d like to focus -- I’m not against it, neither however am I for it. I don’t want to limit my daughter’s path to one of science or technology, I want to give her whatever opportunity she wants or needs. To be able to do that, we need to allow them to think and question. That is where we as parents must elevate ourselves. Simply answering, “because,” or “I don’t know,” or “Google it,” is never going to help our children understand how to think or how to question things.

 

When your child wants to learn how to build a base on the moon, take the time to help them work out how to do it. Embrace that creativity, foster it and never let anyone tell them that it’s a “man’s world,” or they can’t do it. And let’s face it – we’ve screwed it up and our daughters need to take over and do a much better job than we did.

 

I’ll leave you with one last thing as a father and a male of the species: band together, stop in-fighting, stop the “I had it hard so you will too” mentality, stop caring what others thing about you, stop blaming everyone else and speak up! Start to channel all that anger, agro, aggression and annoyances towards building a better future for everyone, including building a platform where my 14-year-old daughter can come into an industry and blaze a trail for herself and help others, preferably women who actually want to work together, share ideas and actually make a difference.

 

Chris Roberts is the Chief Security Architect at Acalvio Technologies. Morgan Roberts is his daughter.