While on our annual vacation with our friends from seminary, we noted that we all have very strong, independent, stubborn, feisty, opinionated, funny girls.  When their propensity for stubbornness and attitude was driving us crazy we would try to remind ourselves and each other that these are traits that we will appreciate one day and more importantly will serve them well into adulthood.

That is if we are careful not to kill their spirit.

I am preparing to lead a Bible study with our middle school girls this year, and I am super excited about it because I love middle school girls and this group of girls in particular!  I started reading Doing Girlfriend Theology by Dori Grinenko Baker to get ideas and direction.  The foreword had me hooked with its analysis of a girls journey from childhood to adolescence, hooked and aching.

The feisty “tomboy” girl of ten gets shut down by thirteen and loses her voice.  As she moves from childhood to adolescence, the girl learns to conform to the expectations of gender roles.  In myriad ways the message comes to her that she must quiet down, lower her voice, learn to make herself pleasing to others, no longer expresses her own feeling

and later

Internalizing cultural cues, girls begin to “not know” and to behave in ways deemed “nice and kind”….Descriptors such as “vivacious” “spunky” and “willful” give way to adjectives such as “non-confrontational” and “pleasing.”  Wildflowers dry up; wallflowers emerge.

GAH!  I certainly don’t think it happens to all girls, but I can understand how it does happen. You can’t ignore the stories of depression, cutting, eating disorders, and suicide in young girls.

I’ve been inundated with articles about raising daughters lately, so my minds all a flutter.

Rebecca Wolf talks about whether or not we should tell our daughters they are pretty on Momversation as does Crazybananas.  I concur with their conclusions that we SHOULD tell our daughters they are beautiful, because they are.  I remember coming home from college after getting my portrait done for our sorority composite and I was talking to my dad – I said something about how I ran by between class and getting in my car and didn’t do any extra touching up while most of the girls were spending lots of time glamming up, when my dad said something like “that’s because you’re beautiful just the way you are” – that was 10ish years ago, obviously it made an impression.

For the moment Taylor is pretty fond of herself.  I find her looking at herself in the mirror, singing songs and making faces and playing with her hair.  Last week we watched a few videos of her, and she was loving it.  She was smiling with pride the whole time.  I hate watching/hearing myself on camera – I hope she never feels that way.

But I also hope that her looks aren’t her priority.  The story about the t-shirts marketed to young girls saying “I’m too pretty to do my homework so my brother does it for me” is just absurd.  How did anyone think that was a good idea?

Taylor is beautiful, but she is also funny, smart, wild, feisty, independent, strong.  I want her to know all of those things about herself and be confident.  But I do also want her to be “nice and kind”  and humble and generous and polite.  I’m sure she can be all those things without losing her spunk, right?  Because I hope she always wakes up full of awesome.


7 Responses

  1. I found it very interesting today that one of the male ROTC instructors told a class of mostly males that almost half of students in JROTC nationwide are now female….and that they were better cadets than the guys. The head cadet at our school is a girl. They are better managers and organizers. Our student body presidet is also a girl. Our principal, a national principal of the year, is a woman. Girl Power!!

  2. We’re totally talking about self-esteem vs. egocentrism in our parenting class at church. Let’s chat over copius amounts of beverage over the holidays 🙂

  3. aaand I spelled copious wrong. and i can’t edit. i am dying a little on the inside 😉

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