This week, a friend posted this picture on Facebook.

 

girlslifeboyslife

As the mother of a teenage daughter, I actually felt sick to my stomach.  Have ‘your dream hair’, ‘Bye, Drama’ (because girls are just full of drama, right?) and always be sure to ‘Wake Up Pretty!’. The Boyslife is full of dreams and accomplishment, learning and becoming everything they want to be. 
It’s nothing new. I am all too familiar with the message she receives on a daily basis because I’ve received it too. But I want more for my daughter. I want her to strive for more and become everything she wants to be, just like our boys.
It starts when they are so young. Boys are taught how to be brave. They are taught to experience failure and keep on moving.
They are the ones playing rough on the playground, asking girls out and as they grow older, they are more likely to push for better jobs, ask for raises and are less afraid of rejection and failure.
They have gotten used to it. Society has helped them learn how to fail. They are expected to do it and to keep on going.

Girls, on the other hand, are not.

We are not expected to make a move unless we are totally sure. We don’t take risks on the playground, aren’t encouraged to play hard and get dirty. We don’t want to stand out and if we do, we better plan on being perfect and getting it right the very first time around.

We should look like a magazine cover (and Wake up pretty!) and be able to balance life and friendships, jobs and family and do it all without breaking a sweat.

I know boys have their own struggles, I understand that. But as the mother of a teenage daughter, I think about this and how I can help her.

Should we be more active in teaching our daughters how to fail? Click To Tweet

As toddlers, they come at it so naturally, both boys and girls. They are learning to walk and they fall down. What do they do? They get right back up and try it again. They don’t sit there and say, “well, I guess walking just isn’t for me!” But something changes as they get older. 

I believe we all should be teaching our daughters how to stand out and maybe when they fail, instead of feeling shame, we should help them to see it a different way. Maybe failure should be celebrated because it means we are trying something we aren’t exactly sure would work, and that always equals growth and progress.

I try hard to compliment my daughter on her art and her grades (even when they aren’t great, we celebrate improvement) instead of her outfit. I watch what she ‘pins’ on Pinterest to see if it’s more centered around clothes and material items or if it’s balanced with art and poetry and ideas that make her grow.

When she was small and she would say she wanted to be an artist and travel around the country, I said, “Honey, you can do anything you want to do!”  So now, why is it that when she shares with me the same dream, as a teenager, I think… nooooo. That sounds scary! 

Instead, I bite my tongue and I say the same, “You can do ANYTHING you want to do!”. Because I know she can. And if she fails, I know she’s got the intelligence to figure out what comes next and a family to cheer her on.

But it’s hard. I want to protect her, and honestly traveling around the country creating art doesn’t sound like the greatest idea to me.  But it’s not my life, I’m just here to guide her and to help her accomplish what she wants in a way that she needs. I often wonder if I would feel differently about it if she was a boy. I think I would.

Mothers of daughters and of sons, Everyone, we have to stick together, support each other and celebrate our failures. Encourage our young people to try new things and to get right back up and get at it.

It can start with small things like:

  • Showing our kids (both girls and boys) amazing female role models so they see something other than what the magazines show them.
  • Encourage them to try something that they are interested in, but may feel nervous. That’s a sign that they will grow if they try!
  • Spark up a conversation at night about something they’ve always wanted to try or dream of doing. Try and release your version of what that thing is and let them share openly.
  • Check out magazines for girls , like Kazoo, that shares ideas for girls that don’t have anything to do with makeup and clothes.

Boys and girls both need us celebrating a good TRY. Exposure to new ideas.

And encourage them to be brave enough to get up and try something else.

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