Ep. 62: Avoiding Negative Cultural Influences

Ep. 62: Avoiding Negative Cultural Influences

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Episode Summary

Mike Adamick, author of Raising Empowered Daughters, shares his insights on avoiding negative cultural narratives to raise strong girls. And how we raise boys is an important piece of the puzzle too.

Full Show Notes

It can be hard to recognize all the negative messages our daughters receive from media, celebrities, athletes, and characters that say how girls should dress or behave. It’s even harder to raise our voice and combat massive social forces, especially when they’ve been around for so long that it feels easier to go with the flow. However, letting sexism slide can be very harmful, so what can parents do to shift our culture for the better?

Thankfully, parents can be a major part of the solution. The key is changing culture from the inside by calling out disparities in clothing, sports, politics, and the workplace and asking for something better. The small differences that we can make in our individual social circles add up quickly, and together social change is more than possible.

In this week’s episode, we spoke with Mike Adamick, author of Raising Empowered Daughters, who uses observations, history, and scientific research to break down cultural bias. Mike provides us with awesome insights for how to identify and call out sexism among friends in a way that starts a productive conversation without letting conflict drive others away. He also shares amazing methods for bringing up what’s not normal or not okay in the media without teens tuning out a lecturing dad.

Mike’s passion is to inspire other parents to be vocal about sexism when it comes up.  Far too often, people pass around harmful ideas and language towards girls because they’ve heard it before and might not think about it too much. He brings up a great example that dads have no trouble standing up for someone talking trash about their favorite sports team, or if someone’s being racist, but a lot of dads choose to avoid confrontation when it comes to sexism. It seems to be that staying silent in the face of gender issues is a driving cause of ongoing cultural problems.

Rocking the boat might sound crazy, but the disparity between men and women is crazy. In this episode, we dive into a ton of solutions to the common issues related to gaps between boys and girls.

  • Mike teaches us what to do and say when we encounter girls’ clothes that are more about appearance than utility.
  • We discuss the problematic logic of using biological differences between boys and girls to discriminate, instead of to be productive.
  • We’ll demonstrate how to avoid pigeon-holing moms and dads into certain roles, and consider how strangely out of the ordinary it seems when we see a dad spending time with kids instead of being at work.
  • Mike explains how to encourage boys to do better by not excusing bad behavior and falling into the dreaded “boys will be boys” mentality.
  • He also shares stories about his own daughter, and ways he supports her to let out the negative emotions like anger and frustration that our culture suggests girls should try to repress to appear ‘well-mannered’. 

This episode is jam-packed with even more eye-opening conversations that will help you shift the culture around gender bias, raise empowered children, and make a positive difference in the world.

The 27-minute public version is free to listen to, and the 46-minute extended version, packed with extra goodies, is reserved for site members. Log in or start a free trial to access everything our site has to offer!

Parenting Scripts

Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen

1. Instead of excusing bad behavior with “boys will be boys,” set the bar higher for your teen:

“You know, we expect better behavior than that.”

-Mike Adamick

2.  What to say to your teen when you notice a panel of all men discussing sports:

(Members Only)

3. When you’re watching TV and want your teen to notice under-representation in media:

(Members Only)

Workbook Exercises

Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview

1. Maybe Boys Shouldn’t “be Boys”:

As Mike Adamick mentions in our interview, “boys will be boys” is often just what we say to excuse away what would otherwise be bad behavior. He points out that rarely do we see a boy baking cupcakes or doing something nice for a friend and say “boys will be boys.” “Boys will be boys” sets a low bar for boys (and men) and what we expect from them. 

Think back to all the times you said or thought this about your own teen boy, or maybe you witnessed some rowdy or rude boys and said “boys will be boys” to your teen (boy or girl). Was the behavior at the time something you truly condone? Is playfully shoving a friend, being unknowingly rude to adults, or accidentally breaking something, really okay as long term behaviors? 

Write down three phrases to say next time instead of “boys will be boys” that make your stance on the behavior clear. It can be as simple as “I expect better from (you/teen boys/young men).”

2.  The Importance of Noticing Gender Bias and How to Do It:

(Members Only)

3.  Use a “Wow” to Mindfully Acknowledge Your Teen:

(Members Only)

About Mike Adamick

In addition to Raising Empowered Daughters, Mike has authored Dad’s Book of Awesome Projects, Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments, and Dad’s Book of Awesome Recipes. Adamick is a main contributor to Jezebel.com’s “Daddy Issues” column, and has been featured in The New York Times, CBS Morning Show, and NPR, to name a few. He is a proud stay-at-home Dad to a now teen daughter, an avid US Women’s Soccer fan, and a self-proclaimed Star Wars nut.

Want More Mike Adamick?

Mike has his own website, is on Facebook, and is shamelessly not on Twitter.