four things i want my daughters to know on international women's day
international women's day is always a day when i take a moment to feel grateful for my opportunity to raise two bright and unique girls in today's world. there are so many things i love about parenting girls, but i'm mindful of the challenges inherent in today's society. here are four things i try to be intentional about teaching my girls as they grow.
1. you don't have to subscribe to gender norms, but it's okay if that's what appeals to you.
i have struggled with this one since fiona was born. for a while, i found myself actively fighting all gender norms, like i was playing whack-a-mole against society. no she will NOT wear pink. *whack* get OUT of here, disney princesses who set a terrible example for little girls (looking at you, ariel). *whack* don't even THINK ABOUT IT, dance classes! *whack*
but as soon as fiona was old enough to express a preference, she chose disney princesses, pink tutus, and dance over soccer. i quickly realized i couldn't prohibit her from chasing her passions just because they seemed "too girly" to me. part of being and raising a feminist is encouraging her to choose what makes her happy, not what is expected of her. now i try to support her interests, while continuing to introduce her to new things.
2. you have ultimate control over your body, and the right to use your voice to protect it.
my husband has definitely rolled his eyes at me when i tell him to take it seriously if the girls say "no" - to tickling, to chasing, to catching them. sure, teaching a 2-year-old about consent may seem like overkill, but to me, empowering my girls with the knowledge that they can and should speak up if something doesn't feel right has to start early. it took me so long to find my voice and use it to protect myself, and i still struggle with it today. if i can help my girls avoid even one uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation by letting them know they are heard when they say "stop," i will feel like i've done my job.
3. learn the language of your heart, and listen to it.
do you ever type out a guess in wordle and then change it at the last minute? or am i the only one whose crushing self doubt reaches all the way to wordle guesses? i've always admired people who are totally in tune with their instincts, and follow them above all else. but in order to follow your instincts, you have to be able and willing to hear them. i think encouraging my kids to be in tune with what they really want and need will be a life long lesson that will absolutely pay off throughout their adult lives. it can be something as small as fiona asking for something to eat that she ultimately doesn't like, or picking a book from the library that she then doesn't care to read. i encourage her to ask herself what she really likes, what she really wants, and listen to that.
4. parents don't know everything, but we have experiences that can help you.
finding the balance between helicopter parent and hands off parent takes constant effort, and i'm sure i don't always get it right. but when i think about the long-game of parenting, one thing i really want my daughters to know is that i don't have all the answers, but i might have some examples to help make their experiences less painful.
instead of presenting myself as a perfect parent who always has an answer, i try to let my kids see when i make a mistake and how i deal with it. if i lose my cool and yell at fiona, i go to her when i'm calm and say, whoa that was not okay, and i'm sorry. sometimes i am overcome with emotions and it's something i need to work on. she almost always reacts better to me being totally up front with her than she does with me preaching about what the lesson is. and the more she sees me as a real person, the more i hope she will feel connected to me, and feel comfortable coming to me throughout her life in difficult situations.
i have so much to learn when it comes to my approach to parenting, but i hope these things i do help empower my girls and make them feel supported when they need it most.