Girl Power. Do you remember that terrific slogan the Spice Girls invented? They were two powerful words that helped to launch the Spice Girls and catapult them to fame. It’s a great slogan and nowadays we never hear it. If there’s anything we should take away with us from the whole Spice Girls era is pride and power in being a girl.
In the years before and since that crazy era stigma and coercion have always been women and girls’ number one enemies. It exists in culture, religion, stereotypes, lifestyles, history. Most likely it will never fully be obliterated from this earth. In many cultures, it will always be a man’s world.
But that doesn’t mean your daughter has to suffer. If you live in a Western World country filled with opportunity and wealth your daughter could enjoy a very free and fulfilling life. The time to start her on that journey is from the moment she is born. How do you do that?
If you were lucky enough to have a supportive mother you already have strong mothering skills. That’s a powerful force in your daughter’s corner. If you weren’t you have been through a lot of difficult struggles of your own. You may still be a strong mother. It depends on how you came through it.
If you suffered during your childhood the best thing you can do for you and your daughter is to get counselling as soon as you can. You can’t inspire your daughter with leadership skill and faith in herself when you have neither. Your childhood isn’t your fault. But now you are an adult and now only that, you are a mother. You can make choices you were unable to make as a child. Choose wisely.
I’ve seen women break the cycle of abuse. One woman friend of my mother’s was raised terribly. Her mother had two daughters. She raised one like a princess and the other like Cinderella. Guess who slept in the ashes? This woman suffered under the chafe of her mother’s disapproval and abuse throughout her childhood and teens until she was able to leave home. She married and her own children. Somehow she was able to break the cycle of abuse. She became an exceptional mother. She knew what it was to suffer at the hands of a parent and she refused to do the same to her own children. Somehow she survived and thrived. You can too.
Your daughter’s future started the moment she was born. You’re going to make mistakes. This blog isn’t about being a perfect mother. No one is a perfect parent because no one is a perfect human being. But you can be a wonderful mother. Start by reassuring your daughter that she is pretty, intelligent and kind. Encourage her to make friends and include people.
Why is it important to tell your daughter she is pretty? Because unless she conforms to “ideal” beauty standards she will believe she is unattractive, ergo, inferior. You know how harshly this society judges people by their appearance. Like it or not, we are all superficial to some degree. Marilyn Monroe, the sex goddess of the world once said, “When I was a little girl no one ever told me I was pretty. All little girls should be told they’re pretty even if they aren’t.”
Monroe shouldn’t be your child’s role model of course; sexually abused as a child, exploited as a sex goddess and a suicide at only 36, one of her most powerful quotes was “I wasn’t used to being happy so that was something I never took for granted.” The importance of Monroe was not her beauty so much as in spite of appearances even an enviable woman could be unfulfilled.
Your daughter is lucky. She has you. With your guidance the two of you can take advantage of the virtual and local opportunities this part of the world has to offer girls:
Clubs just for girls such as the YWCA
Virtual and real-life organizations that strengthen girls’ self-esteem such as Girls Inc.
Big Sisters chapters in your area
Girls for a Change
Afro Puffs and Ponytails Inc
Fathers with Daughters
Start your own mother-daughter group
Canadian Moms Online
Here are great stories to read to your daughter when she is young, including a fairy tale:
Robert Munsch Series
The Paper Bag Princess
Judy Blume Series
Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret
Carolivia Herron Series
I Love My Hair!
The Joy Luck Club
The Girl in the Green Raincoat
First published in the NY Times
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – this site includes the free movie
“I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.”
“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies; but even more to stand up to your friends.”
“I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”
-Joan of Arc
“In spite of everything I still think that people are really good at heart.”
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
“I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing.”
“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”
“There is only one pretty child. And every mother has it.”