My daughter and I were at a birthday party and she vanished into the backyard with her best friend as soon as we arrived. Just to make sure the kids didn’t tear the yard down, I went outside to check on her. I sat on the glasses to play with the kids for a few minutes before I went back inside to socialize with other parents.
Out of nowhere, I mean, totally surprised, the boy said: “I don’t know why I squeal, I just can’t help it!” He sounded guilty. Confused and concerned as I can tell he really needs to get that out of his chest, I said: “is everything okay, honey?” He said: “My dad got really mad at me because I was playing with my cousin and I squealed, I don’t know why, I just can’t help it!” He walked around the playset looked defeated. Moments later he bounced back and forgot all about it as if nothing has happened.
I didn’t know what to say.
Today I was on the phone with one of my colleagues, with all good intentions she asked why I was “not happy” in the meeting last week. I was not smiling, I was listening, my boss and my boss’ boss was in the meeting and I feel no need to impress or speak as there were a lot of people trying to make an impression already. Then she prompted to tell me I should at least try to pretend I am “engaged” in the meeting.
Bless her heart, but I was like “what the fuck?”
Very much like this woman, growing up my family asked me to be “pleasant”. Smile often, speak less, listen more, do not get angry, do not appear aggressive, “shake a man's hand with as little grip as possible, because firm handshakes will intimidate them”, I kid you not, some men once gave me this advice.
We are asking our daughters to be intelligent, to stand up for herself, to take on challenges, to be herself, yet we constantly send mixed messages to them.
We ask them to be “a team player”, which translates to “do not make other people feel uncomfortable by speaking your thoughts”.
We ask them to “speak properly”, which translates to “do not use strong language that may offend people”.
We ask them to “be nice”, which translates to “self sacrifice even you are in the right”.
Granted, integrity, honesty, love, bravery are just one of the few qualities we want to foster in our daughters. But we cannot have integrity when we ask our daughter to stay quiet when her opinion matters. We cannot have honesty when we ask our daughter to hold back her feelings when expressing true feelings is one of the purest form of human communication. We cannot have love if we ask our daughter to pretend hate doesn’t exist, we cannot have bravery when we ask our daughter to hold back her words.
We are heavily influenced by our families. From age 0-7, our brains are in delta wave - the most suggestive state of a person’s life. Any belief that we learned in this stage stays with us for the rest of our lives, unless we consciously try to change it later in life.
How we empower ourselves is how we empower our daughters. When our children are young, they see us as heroes. They love us so much that anything we do becomes their moto.
But eventually they will get older and they will realize who you really are.
How are live our lives is how our daughters going to live their lives, well, at least before they could think rationally for themselves, hopefully.
Granted, some people never becomes an independent thinker, but this brings me to my first point:
Teach Our Daughters To Be Independent Thinkers
“It doesn’t matter what mama thinks, what do you think?”
It’s not true, it does matter what I think, but to me.
My daughter is five and she is at a stage where she loves validation. Seeking validation is natural, hence the selfie phenomenon, which is when validation goes too far.
It is true that If you ask for somebody else’s opinion, you are inviting someone else to have a say so in your life.
“I’m bored, what should I do?” My daughter liked to ask. “If it were up to me, I’d say your room needs cleaning.” She said that doesn’t sound fun, and she asks me less and less about what to do when she is bored. Nowadays she more interested in making spaceship into cardboard box than asking me about her entertainment.
Society as a collective is not evil, but different entities have their own agendas, mostly because of greed.
Gyms try to tell us we are fat so we can share germs on public treadmills; Makeup companies try to tell us we are ugly so they can smear colorful clays on our faces. We are inadequate, let them fix you - or so they want us to believe. So we stand in line 4 o’clock in the morning to get a new iphone.
There are holes in some people’s hearts that was created when they were 5. And instead of looking inward, they fixate toward consumerism.
Society is not evil, but they do want to sell us shit. Teach our daughters to think for themselves, seeking validation within.
Hence she is the only person who has a say so in her life.
Then you ask, “but the kid is only 5, she doesn’t know right from wrong?” I am not saying let them freestyle all their lives, but give them opportunities to make decisions for their own. Because it is going to come a day when she needs to make tough decisions on her own, and she better be prepared for it.
Teach Our Daughters To Be Expressive
Because life would be boring otherwise.
Life is fun because great artists and scientists express themselves through arts and critical thinkings. Human history won’t be the amazing kind we are today if it won’t for all the great minds who are not afraid to be themselves.
With the expression of the positives, it comes with the expression of the negatives. Dr. Gabor Mate believes that repressed emotions cause trauma, and I can’t agree more.
We do not need to tell our daughters to avoid negative emotions, but to acknowledge them and process them. A negative emotion is an unpleasant experience that’s triggered by something deep within our subconscious. Asking vital questions such as “how are you feeling?” “What do you see?” ‘what happened?”
Of course the questions are highly situational, but the goal is to help our daughters express their emotions. This is highly challenging for younger children, who has not formed comprehensive language skills yet, but a firm eye or skin-to-skin contact may be all you need at their stage.
When it comes to expressiveness, a child must give plenty of opportunities to explore their interests. A boy who is curious about barbie doll should be encouraged as much as a girl who is interested in monster truck. Any repressed desire goes to dark places, as we all know.
Every person is here to add their color to this world.
Be expressive. Be Yourself.
Help Them Understand the Dark Side
Light and shadow can’t exist without each other, Yin can’t exist without Yang.
For a while my daughter was afraid I was going to die. We all die, but the idea of living without her mom was just too much for her. She was so scared that she even came to tears several times.
“We all die, honey, but mommy is not going to die for a long time. You know why?” I said.
“Because I eat very healthy, go to bed early, and try to stay happy most of the time.” Half true half false, I binge on Pringles and occasionally stay up super late.
Granted, accident might strike tomorrow, but I want her to understand is that death is inevitable, though we are in control of our lives.
I could sweep this under the rug and tell her, “no honey, I am going to live forever.” But who are you kidding, kids are so smart nowadays. Lying will not only destroy your credibility, but install more fear into their hearts.
Be honest and age appropriate, but always offer hope. Help them understand the bright and dark sides of the world. For this is a vital way of teaching them seeing things as the way they are. And when they can be content with their fears and see it as what it is, they will be able to build resilience towards their fears.
Talk To Them About Their Bodies
A penis is a penis, a breast is a breast. We live in this body, we use this body, but we might not know a lot about his body.
Sex education is still taboo, parents still give each other the weird look why the kid asks
“mommy, where do babies come from?”
Feeling shame about our bodies develop sick habits into adult life. And as we all know, the more our parents try to hide something, the more we want to find out more about it - one way or another
Education brings awareness, and awareness help children set healthy boundaries. This is my body and I am in charge of it.
My daughter is curious about how human comes to life as much she is curious about how an ant is able to carry an object 6 times larger than itself. Healthy inquiry deserve an honest answer.
Once we understand something, there is no more fear behind it.
Talk about the roll on your belly, and the aging spot on your face. If your daughter asks you about periods, give her an honest scientific answer. Don’t be ashamed, as the more you are comfortable with your body and are able to talk about them, the more they are comfortable in their bodies.
Call Things For What They Are
We feel shitty because things don't turn out as you expected. Expectations ruins good mood and destroys relationships. Look at things as the way it is is the key path to happiness.
Your daughter comes home upset because someone was mean to her. You help her understand that that person’s action has nothing to do with her. It is not a reflection of her character, nor should she give more thoughts than it deserves.
Looking at things the way they actually are is a super power we lost. We are not weak, but deceived by our own perceptions. If a child is able to understand this from a very young age, she is going to become a very wise and happy person. After all, what more could you wish for your children than love, happiness, and fulfillment.
Raising daughters is a collaborative societal movement. Let the change starts with us, let us lift each other up, let us raise a new generation of women who are going to change history.
Hope you enjoyed this article, see you next time!!
Ps: Joy Tea Company was featured on Feedspot as one of the top 100 Tea Blogs of 2019. Check them out here: https://blog.feedspot.com/tea_blogs/