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Five (Positive) Lessons for my Daughter about Boys

Five (Positive) Lessons for my Daughter about Boys

Five (Positive) Lessons for my Daughter about Boys

Girls love princesses, fairies and twirly dresses.  Boys love superheroes, cars and baseball caps.  At least that’s what my 4 year old daughter thinks.  And really that’s just fine.  She is 4 years old and DOES love princesses, fairies and twirly dresses.  And all of her little “boyfriends” DO love superheroes, cars and baseball caps. It’s very stereotypical, I understand that, but for her, right now, it actually is real and honest.  She also believes that boys and girls are equal. She thinks it’s perfectly normal for boys to cry. Although she imagines scenarios where brave knights rescue the princess, she sees no reason why those knights cannot be girls.  One day she says she wants to be a mom when she grows up.  The next day she says she doesn’t.  She knows that either decision is fine and that it’s entirely her decision to make one day. We are doing our very best to raise her up to be a strong, independent woman without putting a damper on her very “girlie” spirit.  I have zero qualms about her desire to wear pink.  Her love of Barbie. Her princess fantasies. I was very much the same at her age. And my parents allowing me to “just be a girl” did not box me in.  I never once thought that my gender restricted me from doing or being anything.

Yes, I want my daughter to grow up believing that woman can do anything that men can.  That being a girl does not place limits on her.  There are lots of ways of reinforcing that message.  And I strongly believe that just as important as creating positive messages about girls, is to also create positive messages about boys.

Five (Positive) Lessons for my Daughter about Boys

1. Real strength is not measured in numbers.

Physical strength maybe something that can be easily seen.  And there is nothing wrong with admiring someone (man or woman) that has it. But real strength, strength of character, may not be as obvious but is far more valuable.

2. Showing emotion takes courage.

Admitting that you are sad, scared or worried is not a sign of weakness.  It is exactly the opposite.  Opening up and letting other’s know how you feel can take a tremendous amount of courage.  Boys are often taught (intentionally or not) that it’s not “manly” to share their feelings. Nothing could be further from the truth.

3. Boys respect girls that respect themselves.

TV and magazine images will try to tell her otherwise, but girls who respect themselves will have more positive relationships with (more positive) boys.

4. Masculinity does not define a boy (just as femininity does not define a girl).

Boys can have long hair, wear pink and not love Spider Man. Gender is not defined by the clothes you wear, the sports you play (or don’t play) or how you style your hair. As I type this I know that this subject can run much deeper.  There must be discussions on sexuality and probably gender identity – but this is a good place to start.

5. Boys don’t stink (and men aren’t pigs).

Gender bashing is never a good thing.  It’s impossible to deny that boys and girls can be quite different, for lots of reasons, but slapping labels on people, and entire groups of people, is rarely (maybe never) a positive thing.

 

I have heard so much talk lately about how we need to teach our boys to grow up respecting girls.  And I can’t disagree with that.  At all.  But what are we teaching our girls? They don’t get a free ride on the respect train because they are girls. I see male bashing all the time.  I’m sure I’ve even made off handed comments that slander the male population as a whole. Now that I have a daughter I think about these messages.  I can’t teach her equality without respect.

 

This article has 4 comments

  1. I love this post. I hate to see gender bashing of any sort. I agree I am trying to teach my girls a lot of these things also. Plus I am trying to help them build a healthy relationship with DAD first and then hopefully that translates into a respect for boys as well. You know you actually just reminded me that my youngest has been saying a couple of things about the boys in her class and I should correct her on it. Boys always get in trouble is her take on the couple of boys who learn differently and squirm a bit more than average in her class. That needs to be reframed. Thanks lovely!
    My recent post Helping Your Daughter Prepare for her Period

  2. Journeysof TheZoo
    Tuesday 17 June 2014, 9:43 pm

    My son has started to say things like "Girls can't do that". I remind him that some girls may not be able to do things, however, it's not necessarily because they're girls and it doesn't mean that boys can do it either. Everyone has their own talents regardless of their gender. Personally, I think that he just doesn't want to share things with his sister sometimes 🙂

    I wish that someone had talked to me about #3 when I was younger. 

    Besos, Sarah
    My recent post What Do You Do When Telemarketers Call?

  3. Great post! As a feminist (yes admit it with pride) and mother of two boys I vowed to raise my boys to respect and see girls in all their roles as having equal value and abilities. I teach there are more similarities than differences between genders. As a SAHM in a traditional role sometimes it can be challenging to teach my kids this. Thankfully my husband has always taught the same message. I have always wanted to empower girls since I believe we have not reached a place of equality in many ways, but not by bashing others. These are excellent lessons to teach girls, and boys. They need to know some of these too! 
    My recent post A Few Tips for Teens on Writing Exams

  4. Loved this article, Shayna. I've just had to start having a bit of the 'girly things aren't all bad'talk with my eight year old son, but also realize that this is part of the developmental ride he is on. It just gets really tough with the over branding of the icky boys icky girls in everything from clothes to books to games. My personal pet peeve is 'pets' as in 'love of pets' being skewed to being girly- who is that vet who only wears pink- I had to search for a gender neutral veterinarian kit  – odd even though it means times have changed for the better for women in that once totally male dominated field. Sick of gender bashing- btw- and it being so accepted. 

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