I have a daughter. I also have a very much younger than I am sister. I raised them both. In these two I see the seeds which were planted there by me, and which could only be so planted by me. It was not that I had planned on being one of my mother’s only sitters, and it was not that I had planned on my only daughter to become what she has thus far (a gnarly hard-rockin’ heavy metal kid), but that with them both I intended to do what I have, and that is raise good little girls into strong young women who can hang with anything.
Raising strong girls comes from parents who are not willing to allow the world to enter into their lives with nothing good to say to them, because that is how the world rolls – it is indeed and can be a very harsh place to be, namely if you are a girl. It is our duty to make them know that they are not going to be everyone’s favorite person, and that no matter what anyone says to them, if what they are hearing is not the truth of them, it is not the truth, period, at least not our daughters’ personal truth. This is where it all starts, with the truth of things. We are more inclined to tell them that they are pretty, that they will be the belle of the ball, but we are still, even in this day and age, somewhat remiss to tell them that while the white picket fence fantasy is well and good, that they need and will need to be strong for themselves.
Neglecting to tell them that the world is going to be their harshest teacher is a dearly irresponsible thing to do to them (yes – to them), because it sets them up for disappointment they cannot deal with (because they have never been taught to deal with disappointment, but only that there will be lots of them), and telling them only the good things without also explaining the not-so-good is also setting them up for things like being someone else’s victim, in more ways than only one. I know this personally. A whole lot of us are more concerned with them getting all straight A’s, and a whole lot of us are so hell-bent on making sure that they follow the beliefs that we force on them in childhood (you know, so that they won’t stray from what OUR beliefs are, never mind that maybe they might not be very comfortable with them from a very young age), and, it seems, that the whole of the world is still really wanting to keep them all “little ladies” when in fact they need to grow from little girls to becoming strong women.
Too many of us are still trapped in what our own parents wanted for us, trying hard to still be all they wanted us to be, and here we are, in the Now, hoping upon hope that what we are telling our daughters makes some sort of sense to them, and the problem is that what a lot of parents – MOTHERS in particular – are telling their daughters is NOT applicable to the girls of today. We are selling them short with the things that a lot of us tell them, things that our own mothers could not convince us to believe and to be okay with, and so we fail them on the level that is having a clue in life.
It is not that we have to teach them to apply make-up, but that we have to teach them the reason why it is that they are wearing it to begin with (and why they shouldn’t if they don’t care to). It isn’t that we have to teach them what my own mother taught me which is “a man, is a man, is a man, is a man,” which, when I was a girl, confused me so much that I actually had to ask another aunt of mine to please explain what that meant. I was embarrassed for my mother, not because she would not explain to me exactly what she meant by “men only want a girl for one thing,” but because she did not think herself strong enough at that time in my life to explain to me then that really, what men want, is women. She also did not tell me the whole truth in that, not all men want women for “that one thing,” and that a lot of them are actually very much the opposite of the cad who only wants that very one thing.
Fellow parents…if we are to raise our girls to be strong women, then we must show them what that looks like, and we must be fierce and even fearless in the way that we handle sensitive things. We have to be unafraid to talk with them, unashamed to explain things in great detail for them, and most of all, unwilling to make them understand anything other than what they know is the truth. This is really how you raise little girls into strong, independent, compassionate young women…
…by having been the truth in the example.
Stop robbing your daughters from the truth, because one day, the truths that you have told them will be the truths which may well set them free from the things that you did…or perhaps did not…teach them.