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So… what’s the topic of today’s post? Girls are weaklings!
I would like to begin with this quote from Caroline Paul who is an amazing woman – find out more about her here!
“We are raising our girls to be timid, even helpless and it begins when we caution them against physical risk”
Has anyone told you: “Don’t do that you might hurt yourself” or “It’s ok you’re a girl” or “You did pretty well considering you’re a girl” or “Be careful you aren’t strong enough”.
I’ve always been one to embrace the challenge of proving people wrong.
I remember when I was in primary school and all I wanted to do was climb trees and play rough with boys because girls were boring and shy. It may have been my tomboy stage but I didn’t find much in common with most girls at the time.
Anyway, at this early age (between 5-10yo) when we are at our most curious and adventurous I remember most adults telling me to be careful because I might get hurt.
I’m not sure if they genuinely thought I’d get hurt but it almost felt like they threw an invisible blanket over me to limit what I really wanted to do and explore.
On top of that it often struck me as weird that the same people would let boys do the crazy things I was attempting and not be as worried or strict on them.
Being cautious and ‘safe’ has always stuck with me and I’m ashamed to say I’ve caught myself placing those same restrictions on my children.
So what am I talking about? Let me explain…
I’ve recently had a little boy Kyneton who is 1 month old now 🙂
My daughter Emelina will be 3yo in March 2018.
I feel that I treat them differently already – simply because he’s a boy.
For example I accidentally bumped Ky’s head in the bassinet when I was a trying to soothe him. I felt terrible but I don’t think I reacted as bad when the same thing happened to Eme when she was an infant.
How have I subconsciously placed more importance on my daughter’s safety over my son? Seems really strange doesn’t it!
I remember when we moved Eme from the crib to her ‘big girl bed’. We were so fearful that she’d fall and crack her head open that we surrounded her with pillows and boxed her in as she slept.
Did she fall? A couple of times. Did she crack her head open? Not even close 🙂
Now I’ve caught myself repeating the same words and placing the same limitations on my daughter… “Don’t do that you might hurt yourself”
So I wanted to dive deep into the idea of boys vs girls and our perception of that as parents.
What is the driving force behind this ‘safe vs risk’ mentality and how I can unpack these subconscious feelings between boys and girls?
So what did I find? Check out Caroline Paul’s presentation below and her thoughts on “Micro Bravery”:
So what does this mean to me?
The best summary of her talk is at the 9:25 min mark:
“Bravery is learned and like anything learned it just needs to be practiced.”
Caroline presents this idea of building confidence by practicing micro bravery.
So how do we become brave? Here are the 3 main points:
1. Kids develop valuable life lessons with risky play
Instead of limiting young girls, encourage them to try things and grow their curiosity.
Encourage adventure and learn the lessons on the discovering new things or the lessons from failure if it was a misadventure!
Risky play is really important for all kids because it teaches hazard assessment, delayed gratification, resilience and confidence. Important skills to develop and serve young girls to become confident young women.
2. Try and avoid being over-cautious with girls
When you warn or caution your girls try and pay attention to what you are saying – “Be careful it’s dangerous”, “Don’t do that” or “Watch out you might fall”.
Be mindful that what you are really telling your daughter is – “Don’t push yourself”, “You’re not good enough” or “You should be afraid”.
3. Women have to practice bravery and be an example to our girls
Caroline says that “fear and exhilaration feels like the same thing”.
This resonates with me because it is SO TRUE!
For example, not too long ago I was so fearful in speaking publicly. Even if it was a family birthday where I knew everyone I would still get so embarrassed and red (I wrote about this earlier here) that I almost felt like passing out so many times!
The fear > exhilaration with public speaking.
After building confidence over time and forcing myself to speak publicly I’ve gained an improving skill in being able to speak at a variety of functions from family gatherings to a faceless crowd 🙂
Now the exhilaration > fear with public speaking!
The feeling of fear and exhilaration is almost identical it just depends on how you look at things!
So my dream for Emelina is to grow up being courageous and to not be limited by fear. Overcome challenges through courage rather then shying away from it.
In the meantime I’ll have to check myself and encourage her to be brave and try new things and avoid placing limitations on her.
So in closing I would like to emphasise Caroline’s final statement:
“This is not about the challenges in front of her right now. It’s about the life ahead of her and that she has the tools to handle and assess all the dangers that we cannot be there to protect her from”
I hope you see the value in Caroline’s TED talk and the idea behind ‘risky play’ especially for young girls.
I love both my kids equally. Now I have to work on treating them the same.
Wish me luck 😉