It’s all over the internets this week. Celebrities being rather, well, bossy by telling us to ban bossy.
So many things come to mind.
First, isn’t it the behavior they’re talking about, not the word? I mean, we can’t really be spending so much time and money on banning the word “bossy” when people still use the word “retard” and songs are full of profanity. (I’m not a prude, mind you, as I do have a tendency to throw around a good curse word frequently, but I still couldn’t help but think WHY oh WHY when we pulled up at an intersection in Vegas and the radio on the bike next to me was using all.sorts.of.bad.words very, very loudly.) In fact, doesn’t the husband of one of the women in the campaign sing songs with vulgarities? Should we get all up in arms about that? I’d sure be more worried about my young children hearing his songs than the word bossy.
So if we’re worried about bossy behavior, the whole campaign sort of negates itself right from the get go. They’re telling us what to do. They’re telling us how to parent our kids and what words to use. That, my friends, wreaks of bossy.
The definition of bossy, according to Dictionary.com, includes words like highhanded, overbearing and overly authoritative. To me, that sums up the campaign. Celebrities being overbearing and using their status to persuade.
I think they meant well, but I never experienced what Sheryl Sandberg says happens all the time in the play yard, nor have any of my kids. I don’t see it as legit. I have two girls and two boys. The three that are young adults are successful, happy and clearly unfazed if they were ever called bossy; they still went for what they wanted and weren’t intimidated from being in leadership roles. My two oldest kids, in fact, are in leadership roles in their employment, and I don’t think it’ll be long before my next-in-line is as well. She’s got a good job, albeit a new one, and is on her way. I give the kids all the credit for their success, but I will say that not focusing on a word and instead focusing on helping them be good people overall was time spent better than teaching them to pretend a word doesn’t exist.
What Sheryl says about boys wanting to lead more than girls, by middle school, also doesn’t ring true in my experience, or that of any parents I’ve spoken with. My girls were far more interested in leadership at that age than my boys. Maybe they’re just more confident than Sandberg was at that age? We’ve raised our kids to be independent thinkers, to not just accept the status quo and to think outside of the box. Initiative, kindness, respect, coupled with hard work, a desire to learn, to make change where it’s needed and to help others when they can. Did I need to tell them not to use the word bossy? No. Would being called bossy crush them? Heck, no. (And I told them, at least once, “Yes, I AM the boss of you.” I’m pretty sure they’re not scarred forever.)
Honestly, I’m not overly concerned with celebrities using their status, as I have the choice what to listen to or follow, but if you’re going to spend a lot of time and effort on something, shouldn’t there be real statistics and results behind it? An idea of how to fix the problem, if it’s really a problem? And some experience with it? (How old is the oldest child of any of those women?) Most of all, aren’t there a lot of other choices out there for things we need fixed?
Bullying, for one. More specifically, I’d love to see a campaign focused on ending bullying towards disabled people. I like #banbullying or #bannamecalling. Bullying overall, as it’s wrong in ANY occasion, but I know I’m tired of seeing my son teased or ignored and nothing being done about it because “kids have to learn how to deal.” Yet we don’t expect them to learn how to deal with being called bossy or with someone who uses bossy behavior towards them?
I can’t get behind #banbossy. I’m all for encouraging kids to lead, but a simple word isn’t going to change that, and if it does, I’ve missed something or done something wrong. Self-esteem drops for girls, yes, I believe that’s true but I think that’s got more to do with other things: teasing over their weight and/or attire, grades, tiny petty little things like irritating someone with a big mouth, bullying, personal lifestyle, the list goes on. Goes back to some other thing we should focus on instead: teaching our kids to be kind to one another. Maybe that would fix the whole bossy issue, too. Sounds so simplistic but I can get behind it. #BeKind