My daughter has always been a force to be reckoned with since the day she was born – I’ll never forget the moment they laid her on my chest screaming her lungs out. Obviously there was no doubt she had arrived! I was a force to be reckoned with as a child as well, bossing my siblings and classmates around, telling my kindergarten teacher that she was doing things wrong! Somewhere along the lines though I learned to “sit down and shut up,” my strong willed tendencies we’re discouraged and I was made to feel as if my true voice was better left unheard. I needed to be “lady like.” So here I am twenty something years later trying to develop my independence and regain my voice at the same time as I am raising a daughter of my own.
Thankfully my husband and I are both on the same page and our aim is to make gender matter as little as possible when it comes to raising our kiddo. What is difficult are those who are not on the same page and insist on calling her a “little princess,” telling their boys to “be gentle because she’s a girl,” or having little children ask why she is playing with “boys toys” just because she likes to play with her cars and my husband childhood action figures. Personally, one of my proudest moments was when she walked into the Disney store, which I don’t advocate but is slightly unavoidable now that she can walk, and she didn’t have any idea or interest in the Princess aspect of the store but refused to leave the Cars section! If she so chooses on her own to become interested in Princesses that is one thing, but I am certainly not going to encourage it because what is the value? There are very few real life Princesses, I’d rather encourage her interest in women of action, women who make a difference, women of courage, REAL WOMEN.
In light of my own experiences as a child, I have become deeply aware of the need to channel my daughters personality not change it. I will not teach her how to be lady like, I will teach her to be well mannered and to treat everyone with respect. And in those moments when she pushes my buttons to the max, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that her strength of personality is a gift and it will serve her well in life. I am overwhelmed and honored with this breath taking task of raising her and I only hope that I am able to meet the challenge with the right amount of love, patients, and wisdom required because I never want her to feel that I have tried to make her be something she is not. Although it is my duty to walk ahead of her and forge a path, I find that at times I am also walking beside her as I learn to see life from another perspective. Just as she is growing, so I am growing.