Thursday, February 17, 2011

Our Daughters

                   Being a mother of two little girls it's easy to get caught up in the "you're so pretty" and "do you want to be a princess" stuff. I love the girlie things I can enjoy with them like makeup (playing of course) and clothes and dolls and nails. But there are important life lessons I want to teach them, I want them to be honorable, strong, independent and independent minded women. I want to give them all the things that my parents forgot to give to me. My parents love me and they did the best they could, but fact is that as a young adult I thought my only option was to find a man to take care of me. No one ever told me I was smart enough to do it on my own. I was told that I was smart, but no one encouraged me to go to school, I was told that I'm a hard worker, but no one told me the importance of saving and financial responsibility, and no one expressed the importance of being independent and enjoying life. I think they were too afraid to encourage these things out of fear that I'd get knocked up. Which I did in fact get knocked up (by my husband, my then boyfriend) and that was due to sheer ignorance. I was not talked to about sex, except of course what I heard over and over, "Keep your legs closed!" I didn't know what that meant! I was a kid. All I knew was, "Hey, this feels good!"
                   Too many girls are being duped, and it's coming from all sides. We've got boys that think sex and having kids makes you a man, instead of being taught to respect themselves and females, be careful, use protection, wait for love or at least for someone they like a lot at an older age. Fighting is another thing that's occurring too often with our young ladies today, being recorded and posted online like it's something to be proud of. The media is another one that feeds into the problem, making teen mothers look glamorous and emphasizing on looks and sex. It's okay if you rely on the school system to educate your daughters about the anatomical working of the reproductive organs, but no text book will explain the emotions that go along with sex especially at a young age, nor will the book go into detail about life as a teenage mother. Those conversations are the parent's responsibility and if you're uncomfortable, get a book, talk to your family Dr., do something to be able to tell your girls about those uncomfortable subjects.
                 Another problem facing young girls today is in fact, other young girls. We are in a "Mean Girls" era where there's cliques that make girls feel alienated and cattiness that can appear in girls in elementary school. There are 10 year old girls bullying online, having a Facebook page, and wearing makeup with little heels used to grind the other girls into the dirt. The fathers can never say "no" to their little princesses and the mothers live vicariously through their daughters. There are girls in elementary school with eating disorders! What is that??? Do the parents not see that they're ruining them? Do they really think it's overall healthy to allow a girl of 8 say she's on a diet? And it's usually another little girl that is the influence so she can have a diet buddy.
                When my daughters have asked me why I am so tired, I tell them the truth, "Being a mommy makes you tired". It's not mean, I don't want them to think that this is their only option, nor do I want to paint a rosy picture of motherhood. It is tough, so tough that even though men say moms have the fun job, fact is that if they really felt this way there would be more men fighting for joint custody of their children and there would be more stay at home dads. Try to argue with me on that one, I promise you I'll win that argument. When they've asked me, "Why don't you work?" I say "I take care of you, that's my work" or "Why didn't you go to school" I answer "I had you kids young, I didn't give myself that chance". Again these may seem like harsh answers, but my girls deserve to know the truth, I say these things kindly and gently using lots of love in my voice, but I refuse to fake fulfillment. My daughters need to know that there's more to life than serving a man and dirty diapers (from the baby, hopefully not from the man).
                   Many mornings my younger daughter (7) will ask me to find something for her, her socks, her shoes, her backpack, her homework. And every time I say "No, go solve your own problem. I'll help you, but not do it for you." You see, my little girl knows already that she's pretty and cute and can therefore turn on that vulnerable charm that will no doubt win men over in droves in the future, but she needs to understand that she is a smart capable girl and is able to find her own socks. In the future she may lose a job and instead of calling and asking for money, or depending on a boyfriend, she'll simply go out and find another. That's what I want for my girls. My older daughter (10) used to have a hard time with schoolwork and homework, and instead of at least trying, she wouldn't do any of it at all. She was so afraid to be wrong that she wouldn't even try. I had to talk with her teachers about being a little tougher on her so she can push herself and at home I helped her but never gave her the answers. She got it when I threatened punishment if she didn't at least try, and what do you know, she not only tried but she got her answers correct. I don't want my daughter's fear of failure to paralyze her and keep her from trying, she's better than that.
                     Even though women are becoming more and more empowered society still puts a stigma on women as emotional unstable creatures as a whole. It's not society's fault that only a few women have stepped up to the proverbial plate, that's our fault for not teaching our daughters that they can. Saying it is not enough, supporting them and encouraging them and understanding them, that's what we need to do. My wonderful, beautiful, well meaning mother was always trying to cushion the fall for me, but I never let her, I told her "Mom, sometimes I just need to talk, I don't need you to rescue me. I need to make my mistakes and fall a few times, if I don't how will I ever learn to get back up?" I said this when I was about 18, I didn't know much, but I knew I wanted to know more and the only way I could do that was to try and fail a few times. And since then I learned that I am a strong, capable, honorable, independent minded woman, and that's all I want for my daughters.

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