Sugar and Spice
How do you raise a daughter in today's world?
I was a little girl once. I dreamed in pink and purple. I had butterfly curtains with a lavender ruffled trim. I adored fairy tales, Ramona and Beezus and later on, Judy Blume. I wore Easter bonnets on Easter Sunday and carried straw purses with colorful plastic flowers attached. I idolized Cinderella; loved dress-up dolls and kittens; had a massive sticker collection that kept our local Hallmark in business; and drew an impressive mural on my bedroom wall of a unicorn under a rainbow. I embraced being a girl.
But my birth order wedged me between four brothers, all of us close in age; a cosmic move that significantly altered my visions of sugar and spice. I watched my pretty tea set with the delicate hand-painted rosebuds become a set of twelve miniature Frisbees soaring across the front yard. I would unsuspectingly walk into the family room only to look up in horror as the blur of a random brother flew off the back of the couch at me and pinned me to the ground in a move ala Chief Jay Strongbow. And let me just tell you that, yes, I know what Barbie’s head looks like on GI Joe’s body. But I also collected baby hog-nosed snakes and fuzzy caterpillars. I could give a mean Indian burn and was not afraid to stand nose-to-nose with any boy and demand my way. I could scrap with the best of them to get my fair share, make my point known, or watch Little House on the Prairie instead of Monday Night Football on the small black and white TV in the study. I embraced being a girl in a house full of boys.
I always envisioned having my own little girl someday. We’d have tea parties and eat lemon squares with powdered sugar. We’d do quiet, reserved, girly things while wearing matching outfits and raspberry nail polish. We’d shop for sparkly pink things and she’d have a beautiful bedroom draped in toile. She’d be confident and secure and no one would make her feel inferior. She could be whatever she wanted to be and she’d be happy. And she’d look just like me.
When the time came for babies, I was blessed with not one, but two, boys. I was gifted with beautiful twin boys who instantaneously became the light of my life. They’re pre-teens now, and they do all the typical loud, wild and crazy things that boys do. And they look just like their Dad.
But I like to think they have a level of compassion, kindness and openmindedness that comes from having a mother who survived brothers.
Last week, a reader asked if I would pose the question, "How do you raise a daughter in today’s environment?" I told him I’d be happy to do so, particulary since the amount of testosterone in my world prevents me from knowing the answer myself. So I’m asking my readers to chime in with their advice, experience and insight. Let me hear from you parents with daughters and grandparents of granddaughters.
How do you raise strong, confident daughters in today’s world? How does raising a daughter differ from raising a son? What are your greatest challenges, concerns… and successes?