|Illustration by Lucy Desbordes from Nancy Wake: Fighting for Freedom|
Some years ago, a girlfriend and I were discussing her daughter’s school project. Her daughter was to give a talk to the class on an inspirational Australian woman – and she instinctively chose Nicole Kidman.
It was one of those parenting light bulb moments. You are always subliminally aware of the various influences on your children, the music, the games, their social group, their peer group and school. But how often do you sit back and reflect on the breadth and quality of the role models that you are providing for your children or the role models that they are seeking out for themselves.
It was a moment that resonated for me.
After that conversation, I began to reflect on my own journey to find role models for myself and for my children. I realised that there are not many opportunities for children to have exposure to a variety of role models outside their family and school environment and beyond pop culture. I realised that I had gone searching for my own role models in my 20s and 30s. But for children – there is very little that is accessible, fun and inspiring.
I have three boys. What kind of role models do I want for them?
There are a plethora of inspiring male role models.
I have always been conscious that I have a household of young boys that will one day be men. My ability to guide, influence, inspire, excite, teach….is now, when they are still young enough and keen enough and in love enough, with me, to allow me to do so.
I have also always been conscious that unless I provide them with the appropriate female messaging, they will grow up in a home that is very male centric. And on many levels, boys and girls, men and women, are innately different.
Our children are the men and women of the future. What kind of future do we want? Because whatever values we teach our children today, will form the basis of their future selves.
I believe that life is a partnership between men and women. The stereotypical gender models of previous generations have slowly begun to morph.
I would like to instil in my boys that sense of partnership. I would like to provide them with strong female role models. I would like them to recognise and encourage those qualities in their relationships with and attitudes to girlfriends, friends, collegues and wives. I would like them to participate in communities, jobs, partnerships, in which males and females have the opportunities to be their full expressions of self.
Books, words, ideas, role models; all of these things are intertwined for me.
So I chose to write a series of children’s picture books on Inspirational Australian Women. These are books that I wrote, not just for young girls, but for young boys as well. They are books for my sons.
They are my attempt to give them the tools and the examples of women who have sought a life where they follow their hearts and passions. Women who were determined to find expression of their true selves and would accept nothing less.
And hopefully, one book at a time, we can inspire our children to trust and believe in themselves.
The first two books in the Inspirational Australian Women picture book series are now available: Nancy Wake: Fighting for Freedom and Wildflower: The Life and Art of Ellis Rowan. Visit the Inspirational Australian Women website to find out more about Cassy Liberman and the women from Australian history featured in these interesting picture books.