Are They My Kids or Our Kids? Why Certain Words Matter.
If you already have children, do you refer to them as my kids or our kids when speaking with others?
Take note, pregnant friends. You’ll want to have this down pat before the baby arrives – the difference is a notable one. The former connotes a more possessive or singular approach, whereas the latter sends a message of togetherness and unity. While “my” may seem harmless and unintentional, it conveys a certain message – whether you believe it or not – to others, but also to your partner.
Today, thousands of companies tag their business name with “my” on the front in an attempt to individualize the customer experience and make everyone feel like they count through their own separate, customizable world. But when exactly did “my” become a positive word? Starting at a very early age, most parents are trying to rid that word from their toddlers’ language: My toy! My clothes! My cookie!
Every so often I come across stories or blog posts from (mostly) women, complaining that they’re stuck with the majority of the household and parental duties. But wouldn’t the action of calling the baby “ours” drive home a greater spirit of togetherness when tackling daily familial duties? These women might not feel so alone in their work by calling the children ours.
The media drives this perception, too. It's regular practice for food and home products is to exclude dads in advertising, despite none of the products being gender specific. It makes dads out to be the lesser parent, as if they don’t matter. Using the word “parent” instead of “mom” won’t make or break the marketing business model, and it won’t make a female look away in disgust. Rather, it will make a dad feel like an included member of the family and feel like a valued customer.
In the same vein, wouldn’t we all be doing ourselves a much better service by using “us” language? That inclusion, that togetherness would mean a lot toward parental equality. If we all spoke with these expressions, it might even get companies to change their marketing ways.
If we all started thinking in terms of “our, us, we,” there might be increased mutual respect and greater understanding in parenting. From a fatherly perspective, I notice the distinction all the time – perhaps because I use words for a living. But even if a dad doesn’t notice, it still sends a subliminal implication that he isn’t in charge, which is unfortunate and wrong.
In the spirit of stronger parenting, we don’t want that to be the case, because we know that’s not the case.
Those kids, they’re our kids.