During my IVF journey, I spent many hours reading blogs and articles about parenting and raising children. A couple of my findings really touched me, and I decided to keep record of them, to remind myself of the type of parent I hope to be.
Teach My Daughter Bravery, Not Perfection
TED talks have a way of hitting a grand slam with connecting emotion, to meaningful topics that impact our culture and our daily lives. One TED talk in particular called, “Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection,” by Reshma Saujani, really got me thinking. Reshma Saujani said, “Most girls are taught to avoid risk and failure, play it safe, and get all A’s. Boys on the other hand are taught to play rough and swing high. Crawl to the top of the monkey bars, and jump off headfirst.” The moral of Saujani’s story is that our culture has been designed to teach our girls to be perfect, and we teach our boys to be brave. Saujani gives an example with a study that was done on 5th grade students, who were given an assessment that was too difficult for them. The higher IQ boys approached the assessment as a challenge, that energized them, whereas the girls with higher IQ, quit. Interestingly enough the 5th grade girls outperformed the boys in every subject, including math, science and literature. The difference present here, is how boys and girls approach a challenge, specifically with relation to how society has molded them.
Saujani goes on to explain that the difference in how each child approaches a challenge does not end in 5th grade. An HP report found that men will apply for a job when they only meet 60% of the job qualifications, where as women…you guessed it, will only apply when they meet 100% of the qualifications. Saujani recognizes that many responses to this study would indicate that women just need a boost in confidence, however, she quickly responds to this by stating that this is evidence that women have been socialized to be perfect, and approach situations with caution.
Saujani goes on to tell a few more stories as evidence of socializing our girls to be perfect, but one stopped me dead in my tracks. She tells a story of a colleague of hers who is a professor at the University of Columbia. This professor depicts a story of the male students who struggle with an assignment, and they come to his office and say, “there’s something wrong with the [assignment]”, whereas the female students come in and say, “there’s something wrong with me.” I truly felt that I could cry after watching this. Our girls are approaching challenges by internalizing failure or incorrect results in an assignment and reflecting that THEY are the problem, rather than maybe there is a mistake in the equation. Society has shaped all of us to make our girls feel like they cannot be wrong, that they are afraid to not understand something and raise their hand for clarification…I vowed that I wanted to create a culture in my household that my children would be taught differently. I want my children to be fearless, to be equal, to be unafraid of being wrong, and rewarded for challenging the norm, taking risks, being unafraid of failure, and embracing it and learning from it instead. I want them to know that they will be loved and accepted “not for being perfect, but for being courageous and brave.”
You can watch the full TED talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC9da6eqaqg
I came across a video of a father with his little girl, who was maybe three years old. He places her on the counter top in the bathroom so they can face the mirror together. He stands behind her and has her repeat the following, after him:
- “I am smart, I am strong”
- “I work hard”
- “I am beautiful”
- “I am respectful”
- “I am not better than anyone”
- “Nobody’s better than me”
- “I am amazing”
- “I am great”
- “What’s your name?”…she says her name
- “If you fall…”, she responds with, “I get back up”
- “What are you?”, she responds with, “I am blessed”
- “Thank you God, for making me the greatest. There’s nobody better than me”
For the full video, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=zNtPVgblzWY
My Children’s Affection Is Not Mine To Give
I read an article related to a study done by CNN, entitled “I Don’t Own My Child’s Body“. Kind of a scary title! The article described how parents unintentionally force their children to show affection. We hear parents say things like, “give Uncle so and so a kiss and a hug goodbye,” or “give grandma kisses,” or “give grandpa big hugs!” In forcing our children to show affection, we are taking away their choices, and disrespecting their right to show affection, when and how they choose to. My children’s hugs and kisses are theirs to give, and are not compulsory or guaranteed. Whether feelings get hurt or not, I want to be respectful that my desire for giving and receiving affection, should never be forced on my children.
For the full article, visit https://www.cnn.com/2012/06/20/living/give-grandma-hug-child/index.html
There is so much more I want to teach my children, and the number one lesson I have learned through these articles and discussions, is that if I want to teach it, I have to live it.