Is raising a girl very different from raising a boy?
Ideally, no. But realistically, yes. Because of look around. It’s a man’s world out there. And that’s not a joke or a cliché or a passing comment. That is one gigantic billboard that all girls pass by, grow up with, are oppressed by.
So how do we build protective factors for our girls? How do we help them get ready for the onslaught of loud whistles and criticisms? How do we raise a strong, confident girl who won’t panic at the whistles, or even engage with the critiques? And not because they are
But because they are in a different place in relation to all that.
Those incidents will definitely happen throughout their lives, but the trick is to create a place where they can be themselves without detaching or climbing onto a pedestal. A place where they can have enough forethought to anticipate such dynamics so that when it happens, they don’t go on the defensive. And most importantly, a place where when it happens, it doesn’t diminish their self-worth, confidence, and self-reliance. And all that without having to create an armor that makes them untouchable.
I’ve seen many of those women in the corporate world in the ’80s. They paved the way for modern women who don’t have to fit the mold or the ones who have chosen to not be a part of the professional world. But what they had to put up with! What armors they had to don every morning so they could enter the meeting room and be heard. What shields they had to hold on to so tight that they forgot to take them off at the end of the day when they were with their families if they had them. It was a battle with casualties.
But now we emerge with a hopeful world for our young girls, our women. For those of us who were in that boardroom and maybe are still there - get your girls ready.
Remember that you don’t have to
Build their confidence - they are BORN with it! Preserve it and remind them of it every day
Teach them to speak up - they are born crying and yelling. Listen to them every day
Hide what they feel - it is the gift of being the progenitor of our species. Help them stay true to it
Apologize and pretend to be weak - it is the legacy of motherhood to be VERY strong. Help them own it and be proud of it externally AND internally
These are all gifts of mothers to their daughters - to pass down the lessons we learned, not the wounds we received in the war against society and ourselves. Try to give your heart to them intact so they can move into their lives with the weight of your knowledge and experience grounding them, holding them steady on their crusade to make it a Woman’s World.