Monday, July 6, 2015

Raising Girls: Building a solid foundation

When I was pregnant the first time I was desperate to have a girl. I tried convincing myself that it didn’t matter. That I would love a boy just as much as a girl. But oh how I longed for a daughter...and for so many reasons. 

I wanted the same relationship with my daughter that I had with my own mother. I wanted to do all the girly things with her. I wanted to be her best friend. I wanted to see her have her own babies.

So cue my overjoyed enthusiasm when my little girl arrived. And it was double the joy when my second lovely daughter was born 3 years later.

 
 
And now…as the mother of a 6 and 9 year old girl…I’m in a bit of a panic really.  Because I realize that I have to guide them – carefully and lovingly – into womanhood.  And that means we have to go through the teenage years first.

What if my girls turned into “mean girls”?  Or what if they fell victim to the “mean girl”?  I know I can’t keep them from getting their heart broken – and wouldn’t want to – but how do I help brace them for when it does?

I’m honestly not sure I’m prepared for that. Not that I was a terror of a teenager – on the contrary really. I was the 12 year old that spent Saturday’s clearing up her room and packing up old clothes to donate.  At 13 I got my first job and worked steadily ever since. I got good grades, stayed away from the “wrong” crowd and generally made my mother proud.

But the world that my girls will have to live in is so very different than the one I did. I don’t understand today’s youth. I find the majority of them to be lazy and entitled and just plain rude.

I know that’s a terrible generalization but I just can’t seem to prove it wrong. And so I know that I have some work to do in preparing my girls to be strong and independent and successful women but also kind and loving and caring to those around them.

So I’m starting with instilling these basic principles now:
  • Be kind 
  • Keep your promises 
  • Clean up after yourself
  • Be polite and respectful of others
  • Say you’re sorry and accept sincere apologies
  • Do your best 
  • Never give up
I look at that list and I feel pretty good about it. Confident that I am giving my girls a good start in the world. Building the foundation for them to be respectful and kind. But I know it’s not enough.

Because this is list could just as easily apply to boys. I need some girl specific tips. Some golden nuggets of advice just for them.

And so…here are the things I want to teach them.  What I want to make sure they know… 

Love yourself. You are unique and beautiful from the day you are born.  Don’t let society change that about you. Don’t base your self-worth on a dress size. And don't base it on what anyone else says to you. Be healthy. Be happy. Be active. Be yourself. 

Love deeply. Doing this means you will get your heart broken. You will think you have nothing to live for without “him” in your life. But you do have something for live for. You have the next ‘great love’ to meet. Judy Blume had the perfect quote for this:  “You can’t deny they ever happened. You can’t deny you ever loved them – love them still – even if loving them causes you pain.”  You said it sister. 

Don’t be a sheep but try not to be the black sheep either. I feel like I got through high school relatively un-traumatized because I existed on the fringes of all the “cliques” I wasn’t a princess or an athlete or a stoner or a brain or a weirdo (my kids will totally not get the Breakfast Club analogy…) but I had friends that were all of those things. I hope my girls do the same. That they befriend others for the person they are not the company they keep. 

Listen to your parents. I know this might come across as a little self serving but I want my girls to know that not only am I capable of giving good advice but I also have their best interest at heart. Even if they don’t always like what I have to say.

Trust your instincts. I know this will be a tough one because I am only just now learning how to do this myself. But it's important that we understand that sometimes the best advice comes from within. There is no one that knows us better than we know our own self.

I'm sure this list will evolve and change over the years. As I see my girls grow I will (hopefully) see what areas need more work and which ones are working out fine. 

For now...I'm going to let these stand as my guiding principles. And hope that I can help my daughters grow up to be young women that I am proud of. 

Based on these early years I have high hopes that will be the case.

 
 

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