I am raising a daughter. A daughter who, without being taught or prompted, has turned into the girliest girl I know. It seems to come naturally to her, and has left me to think – should I be worried?
Before I get started, let me give you a few examples. Keep in mind, she’s not even quite 2 years old yet, and won’t be until October.
– When I get her dressed in the morning, she will run over to the full length mirror and check herself out. She will pose, turn from side to side, and say “Ooooh”. I have never taught her this, nor do I “Ooooh” at my own image in the mirror. Usually I barely have time to get myself ready at all and am lucky if I catch a sideways glance at myself as I’m walking out the door.
– On the very few rare occasions I actually decide to put on makeup for work, she takes notice. She demands that I kiss the top of her hand and leave her with “kissy lips” for the day. She stares at that kiss, makes the “mwah” sound, and kisses the kiss for hours.
– She is obsessed with all things pretty. Necklaces, earrings, purses, scarves, accessories.
– She twirls and spins, and makes her stuffies give each other kisses.
These are just a few examples. While they may not be in themselves something to worry about, I do worry that at such a young age, she seems to be enamoured by them. I wish her to be able to focus on more than just “pretty things” as she grows up.
Looking back to my own childhood (from what I can remember) I feel as thought I was a pretty good mix. While I thrived at more girly activities (dance in particular), I was also one who had fun out playing in the dirt with the boys, playing with tonka trucks, and had more male friends than female for many of my school day years. I found that a lot of females while I was growing up were so catty, and too obsessed with the superficial aspects of life, and not things with substance.
The thought of raising a daughter in today’s day and age terrifies me. News reports are rampant lately, with stories of teenage girls who ended up victims of gang rapes, and cyber bullying. Girls who drink too much in order to “fit in” and then pass out and are taken advantage of by groups of boys who are no longer taught in school that “no means no”, and that a girl who is passed out is not compliant. That’s right. They are no longer taught this in school. When I went to school, sex ed and learning about what constitutes rape was taught. These days, it is out of the curriculum because some parents think it is inappropriate.
Is it more appropriate for our kids to be participating in unsafe situations because you were too uncomfortable with them being taught facts? If you’re not going to be active in teaching them as their parent what is right, what is wrong, and how to stand up for themselves and others, who will? Nobody, if you’ve gotten it out of school curriculum.
Too many of our kids are committing suicide due to bullying. And I get it. It seems there is no way out. I myself was bullied horribly from grades 6-9. It was awful, and I dreaded waking up every day to go to school. Dreaded it. I can’t tell you how many times I faked being sick, or told the gym teacher I wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t participate to save the humiliation of being the only girl nobody wanted to be partnered with – simply because one “popular girl” decided I wasn’t cool anymore.
(photo from Chatelaine.com)
The only thing that got me through, was dancing. It was my outlet, and the friends I had there were my saviours. Thankfully, I had that outlet and made it to High School, because it all turned around there, and I have made friends that have lasted a lifetime.
But what about those kids who don’t have that outlet? That safe zone, and those friends? These days it is hard to escape bullying when the school bell rings, because the internet follows you home. Kids these days are cruel. Much more cruel than they were when I was young.
(photo from http://www.sidedooryk.com/cyber-bullying-by-james-fox/)
What terrifies me, is how much value my daughter already seems to place in “pretty”. What may happen to her down the road if people keep saying to her “Oh you’re so pretty” and not “Oh you are so smart, and valuable”. What may happen to her if some bully down the road makes her feel so badly about her appearance, and she’s left feeling she’s got nothing else to fall back on. What may happen to her if she feels the only way to be pretty and popular is to drink too much and pass out with people who aren’t taught right from wrong?
My job as a mother is going to be a hard one. I must teach her the lessons that are no longer considered important enough to be taught in school. I must teach her that although she now knows right from wrong, and that “no means no”, not all people have been taught the same. I must teach her that if she decides to go against what I have taught her and drink alcohol, to NEVER leave her drink unattended, and to always know she can call me at any hour and from any location, and I will always come and pick her up. I will never get mad at her for calling me late, and will always be proud of her for phoning me, rather than getting in the car with a drunk driver.
I must teach her that “pretty” doesn’t last forever, and while she is gorgeous, there is more to life than that. I must teach her the value of her intelligence, her creativity, and her talents. Be an example in her life, and not obsess over my body – which as any Mama who is post-birth knows, is not an easy feat.
Above all else, I must try to establish the type of relationship with her that is open. One where she feels comfortable and safe to talk to me about anything. Where she doesn’t feel judged. I feel this will be the hardest one of all, and am already anxious about how I will manage to do it. I’ve been a teenage girl. I know that usually, the last person you want to talk to is your mother. I hope that it won’t be the case with my daughter.
All these thoughts and anxieties, and she’s not even two. But this is how my brain works, and what goes through my head.
If I don’t start now, it might be too late.