One simple and brilliant tweak to how Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds talk to their kids.

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds — famous actors, yes, but also a famously awesome couple.

The pair is widely known as funny, down-to-Earth parents to their two young girls — not to mention total #couplegoals.

But just because they love to goof around and crack jokes doesn't mean they take their jobs as parents lightly.


Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

In a revealing interview with Glamour, Lively opened up about the couple's plans for raising strong, independent daughters.

Though she admits she doesn't always know the right thing to do, she shared an anecdote about reading a script that had a profound effect on the way she talks to and around her girls:

"I was reading a script, and this woman, who’s very tough, did something where she took control of her life. And so she’s sitting, gripping the wheel, 'a look of empowerment on her face.' And I thought, Hmm, they don’t point that out about men: 'Look how empowered he is.' It’s just innate."

At home, Lively says, she and her husband make a conscious effort to avoid language that's either subtly sexist or even by default male.

"[Reynolds] will pick up, like a caterpillar, and instead of saying, 'What’s his name?' he’ll say, 'What’s her name?'" Lively said. "Or we’ve joked that my daughter is bossy. But my husband said, 'I don’t ever want to use that word again. You’ve never heard a man called bossy.'"

As a big-time Hollywood actor and now movie producer, Lively knows a thing or two about how people react to strong women and knows firsthand how damaging stereotypes can be.

"We’re all born feeling perfect until somebody tells us we’re not," she said of her daughters.

In other words, women aren't born feeling somehow inferior. Rather, the world tries to slowly beat it into them.

"So there’s nothing I can teach my daughter [James]," Lively said. She already has all of it. The only thing I can do is protect what she already feels. I do know that I have to watch her and listen to her and not project any of my own insecurities or struggles on her."

The statistics prove Lively's point: How we use gendered language really matters.

Calling a caterpillar a "girl" or a "boy" may not seem like a very important decision, but consider this:

Children's books are far more likely to feature a male lead character, Hollywood is as non-gender-inclusive as it's ever been, and most of us assume doctors or other high-level professionals are a "he."

From the time we're born, we are surrounded by a culture that paints women into a corner. Tells them that they can be a nurse but not a doctor. That they can't be in charge lest they be labeled "bossy." Tells them that not even an anthropomorphic farm animal can have the spotlight if it's a girl.

Lively and Reynolds are getting a jump on fighting back. If you're part of a couple that wants to be just like them, following their lead on this would be an awesome place to start.

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Capital One

Brian Olesen never imagined he would end up homeless.

The former U.S. Air Force medic had led a full and active life, complete with a long career in the medical field, a 20-year marriage, and a love of anything aquatic. But after hip surgery and chronic back pain left him disabled in 2013, he lost his ability to work. Due to changes in eligibility requirements, he couldn't qualify for federal veteran housing programs. His back issues were difficult to prove medically, so he didn't qualify for disability. Though he'd worked his whole life, having no income for five years took its toll. He got evicted from a couple of apartments and found himself living on the streets.

But in 2018, two things completely turned Olesen's life around. He was able to both qualify for disability and to move into an affordable housing community in Miami's Goulds neighborhood called Karis Village.

When people think of affordable housing, they don't usually picture a place like Karis Village. The 88-unit development is brand new, and built with an attention to design that is not always expected for developments that serve as home to people on limited incomes. The apartments have tile floors, marble countertops, and all new appliances and furniture, and the grounds are beautiful and well-kept, with a playground and common areas for residents to gather.

Brian Olesen in his kitchen at Karis VillageCapital One

Karis Village isn't just a housing development; it's a home and a community. Half of the units are set aside for veterans who have experienced homelessness, like Olesen. The other half are largely occupied by single-parent families.

"To me, this building was just a gift," says Olesen. "All of the different parties that got together to put this building together… making half the building available to veterans. We've got no place to go."

Addressing veteran homelessness was one of the goals of Karis Village, which was built through a partnership that included Carrfour Supportive Housing — a mission-driven, not-for-profit affordable housing organization in southern Florida — and Capital One's Community Finance team. More than just an affordable place to live, the community has full-time staff on hand to help coordinate services—from addiction recovery programs to transportation options to job search and placement. Also included are peer counselors who provide emotional and psychological support for residents.

Karis Village, an affordable housing community in Miami, Florida.Capital One

Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman says the core function of the services team on site is to build a supportive community.

"Often when you think of folks leaving homelessness and coming into housing, you think of shelters or some kind of traditional housing," she says. "You don't really think about a community, and that's really what we build and what we operate. What we're really striving to create is community. We find that our families thrive when you create a sense of community."

The intention to create a supportive community at Karis Village was a priority from the get go. Fabian Ramirez, a Capital Officer on Capital One's Community Finance team, says the bank did a listening tour in southern Florida to explore community development and affordable housing options in the area and to hear what was most needed. After deciding to partner with Carrfour, the bank provided not only an $8 million construction loan and a $25 million low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investment to help build Karis Village, but it also kicked in a $250,000 social purpose grant to help fund the social support services that would be put in place for residents.

"It's not just all about providing the brick and mortar," says Ramirez. "It's about being able to contribute to the sustainability of the development and of the lives of the people who move into the building."


Capital One

Olesen says he and his fellow residents benefit greatly from the network of support services offered in the building. He says a counselor comes to meet with him once a month, sometimes right in his apartment. He also gets help maintaining a connection with the Veteran Affairs office. Other services include social workers and counselors for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Olesen loves being around other veterans, and he says hearing the sound of children playing keeps the community lively. He says anywhere else he could afford to live on disability wouldn't be nearly as nice and would likely involve shared kitchens and bathrooms and neighborhoods you wouldn't want to go out in at night.

If it weren't for Karis Village, Olesen says he doesn't know where he would be today: "I had nowhere to go and this is a safe, beautiful place to spend my retirement."

"I don't think they could have done a much better job of putting this place together and supplying us with what we need," he says. "I have so much appreciation for the ability to have a place to live. And then you add to that that it's beautiful and completely furnished and you didn't need to bring anything—I don't know what more you could ask for."

Karis Village and another development for veterans built the same year enabled the neighborhood of Goulds to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to declare an end to veteran homelessness in the area.

Ending veteran homelessness altogether is a complex task, but communities like Karis Village show how it can be done—and done well. When government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate funding programs come together to solve big problems, big solutions can be built and maintained.

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