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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Raising Girls

I have two beautiful daughters who are now 10. Ten is clearly different from nine. There’s a budding maturity yet a need to stay young. I go from Mommy to Mother! in record time, depending on their moods. I think daily about how I’m going to get my girls from this stage to being independent, thoughtful, productive women.

I want my girls to grow up and have healthy relationships. But how will they learn that? I didn’t do such a great job modeling that in my marriage, which I owe largely to the fact that I didn’t have that model. A general mistrust of humanity doesn’t help that, either. Yet here I am faced with the daunting task of making sure my children grow up happy and healthy. Daunting doesn’t begin to cover it.

I read an article recently by Lisa Bloom (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-gir_b_882510.html?ref=fb&src=sp) which addressed the issue of how we talk to girls when their young can influence how they see themselves as they grow up. As someone with about a zillion self esteem issues, I don’t want my children experiencing that. Too late, I know. It’s already started. Mommy, I want to look pretty for [insert boy’s name here]. I want him to notice me. Mommy, I don’t like my thighs. Seriously, it’s started already.

I raised my girls from the beginning telling them it’s not enough to be beautiful on the outside (which they are, as they know from the strangers who would stop us when they were young to tell me how beautiful they were). They needed to be beautiful on the inside. But that’s not enough, I’ve learned. I reinforce their academic achievements but there’s more. I grew up with statements like “you hit the ball well, for a girl” and “girls don’t need to understand math”. I can’t tell you how negatively that affected me. I still feel stupid when dealing with math problems and I hear that voice in my head telling me I’m too dumb to do it. Luckily, both my kids are seriously smart. I can’t help M with her math anymore – she explains it to me. Both are voracious readers, for which I am grateful and proud. They know they’re brilliant yet still can’t get past the awkwardness they see in the mirror. I wish I could take this part of their lives away from them for a while, just to give them a break. Both are independent thinkers and are realizing how lonely that can be. They are mini-me’s and sometimes, while fiercely proud, it also breaks my heart. I know what they’re in for.

So how do I raise two strong girls who don’t rely on their beauty and boobs or popularity? How do I convince them that playing dumb to get a boy is just that? Geez, all of this and they haven’t hit middle school yet. My prediction is after several years, they will be fine. I will be gray.

2 comments:

  1. Such a tough road to travel, especially these days with diva this and diva that everywhere and push up bras made for seven year olds.

    They do have a strong mama in you and one that wants to impact their world in a positive way...and for that they are truly, truly blessed.

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  2. I appreciate that, Alissa. Katy Perry talking about her bikini and daisy dukes, the girls getting messages through tv, magazines - everywhere - that beauty is more important than brains, it's making me nuts.

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