I often refer to being a #girlmom and how much joy I take in raising the next generation of female warriors, but I don’t think I stress enough the importance of raising girls well. Yes, we all have our own parenting styles and opinions on how children should be raised, and in this age of information, I sometimes wonder if parents of today are just a little too informed for their own good. But the crux of my blog post today is focused on what it means to raise a daughter well.
Women are still being treated differently to men, and this is true for the younger versions of ourselves too. Girls and boys are treated differently, and it is vital we move against gender stereotyping and limiting. As much as we would like to pretend that we are in a gender-blind society, we are not. We can begin to pave the pathway for our daughters by raising our children gender-blind, but we first need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and our own biases.
For example, I always help set or clear the table at family functions, while the men and boys continue chatting or bantering. I work harder than my male counterparts, running a full-time corporate job while being a full-time mom (among other things), but here I am, scraping chicken bones off their plates. I had to catch myself when I saw my oldest ‘helping’ me. Is this the message I want to send to her? That, despite all the ‘gender equality’ nonsense we are spewed, they should still cook, clean and serve the men in their lives? No. Absolutely fucking not.
I have also become cognisant of the toys my girls play with and the nicknames we call them or the words we use when speaking to them. Sure, if they want to play with a baby doll, they should. But if they want to play with toy cars or balls, hell to the yes. I don’t want them growing up thinking that they can’t do what boys do. Additionally, I don’t want them being inhibited by the connotations associated with the words we use to speak to them. Both my husband and I are guilty of calling them “good girls”. No. I don’t want them to be good girls. The theory: Girls are inadvertently groomed to become perfectionists by being praised for “good girl” behaviour, so they quickly learn that making mistakes means “not good enough” – and this drives me mad! I see it every day. I am a product of this myself, and I hate it.
I also don’t want them to be princesses. They are not helpless, they are not obligated to be submissive to authority or to the notion perfection. The internalisation of specific words is massively damaging on their long-term psyche. Having said this, there is also a huge expectation on young girls to achieve, and I struggle with the fact that this is often a double-edged sword. My girls will most likely achieve because I do (the expectation is there) but achievement is often lonely, and a study found that girls are outachieving boys consistently, but they are also unhappier than the boys are.
Like any sane Mom, I want my daughters to be happy – first and foremost. I am cognisant of the impact I may have on their lives – mothers are a commanding influence on their daughters, and I think we sometimes forget by just how much we affect them. How you act and treat people is a good indication of how your daughter will behave when she is older. There is a reason they speak of “The Mother Tongue”. Children learn from their Mother first. Although I believe my girls are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, I force myself to acknowledge their character over their appearance. I want to show them their self-worth, and drive a behaviour of valuing themselves beyond what they look like.
I am also trying to encourage my girls, as young as they are, to be their unique selves. I am choosing to not force them into something because I think it’s what they should do, or because I wanted to do it and never got the chance to. I have let my oldest guide me into what she loves. For example, she has never done gymnastics (classes) in her life, but she knows what it is, and she practises it every day. Also, she enjoys puzzles and counting numbers, so I encourage her to grow in the areas she enjoys. This type of nurturing is said to help girls when they enter their adolescent years, in which their self-esteem drops 4 times lower than that of a boy. With a strong sense of self, this trying time should be easier for them to handle.
I love being a Mother to daughters. I am fully invested into being a #girlmom and believe I was destined for this role. It irks me beyond understanding when people ask “are you going to try for a boy” (WTF?) As if my girls weren’t enough? I am so conscience of how I raise them, and I repeat, I want to raise them well. In the end, parenting daughters is complicated. Empowerment messages and impressive achievements are everywhere, and girls are expected to reach certain standards, or fall back into the typical stereotype. Depression and anxiety are very real threats, and when evaluating the feminine psyche, girls are more prone to this than ever before in modern history. My ultimate goal is to help my daughters become their best, well-rounded selves – in spite of it all.
And God help you if you get in my way.
Pray & Slay,