Mama on Raising a Daughter:
It’s not easy raising a daughter in 2017. There is a strange juxtaposition between the old traditions (girls wear dresses, like princesses, play with dolls) and our future, which, one can only hope, concentrates more on someone’s capabilities and individuality than their genitalia. So how DO you raise a girl in these strange times?
Relax the Boundaries
Allow your daughter to play with whatever toys she likes, wear whatever clothes she chooses. Sometimes Mia wears head to toe pink, others there would be no way you could tell from her clothing what gender she is. I buy her clothes based on whether I like them, not on what gender they were designed for. She has dolls, cuddly toys, trucks, cars, blocks. I have not placed limitations on the things that surround her based on her gender.
Compliment her on Things Other than her Appearance
I do tell her she is beautiful and that she looks lovely but I also tell her when she is kind and clever and funny too. Beautiful is not the only thing for a girl to be and it’s important that she knows that.
Mia needs to know that different does not equal bad. I want to raise her to be an independent thinker. I also don’t want stereotypes to get in her way; if she wants to be an engineer she should go for it, not be intimidated by the fact it’s a male dominated profession. She also needs to be her own person, she is not me, as I discussed here.
Understand your Influence
This may sound slightly ridiculous, but when Mia was tiny and I would do a workout video, I told her it was to “make Mama strong”. I know she didn’t understand me but I like starting as I mean to go on. I will always tell her I work out to be strong rather than to lose weight. Similarly I love that we eat a lot of healthy meals now as I go to Slimming World. This is something I want to instill in her from a young age; we eat good foods, but the occasional treat is fine and we don’t feel bad afterwards.
I recently watched Dawn French’s show 30 million minutes (quick, get to BBC iPlayer, it’s probably still there!). She describes how, at an awkward teenage stage, her father took her aside and told her that she was special. He told her she was a rare beauty and any man would be lucky to have her. She says this “gave her armour” which leads me nicely to…
Instill Self Respect
– One thing I always felt our PSHE sex education lessons were missing was self respect. We’ve brought up a generation (or Two) of women who think they’re worthless. We tell teenagers they’re worthless all the time (10 A*s you say? Well, exams are getting easier….) I cant help thinking the teenage pregnancy rate would drop off a precipice if we just taught our girls (and boys!) To value themselves.
– It’s 2017. There are some wonderful resources out there. This is the era of Lottie dolls instead of Barbie’s, follow ‘A Mighty Girl’ on Facebook, read ‘I like myself’ and show her Pinks amazing award speech.
Go to Work…or Don’t
Feminism is about choice.
MIa on how to be a girl:
- Being stubborn is key. Never ever give up.
- Remember Daddy is always on your side. This can be used to your advantage.
- I’m supposed to be made of sugar and spice. I don’t buy that. Someone put some chilli powder in me.
- I don’t really like dolls even though I’m supposed to, I don’t get what they do. I like books I can read and blocks I can break apart.
- My Mama says I’m a Princess. I don’t like that. I don’t need saving or a prince. I’m going to rely on myself.
- Being a girl isn’t really a thing. My pigtails don’t make me a girl, my clothes and toys don’t make me a girl. I don’t think the way I act makes me a girl. I’m just me.