We decided not to find out the sex of our baby, so throughout my pregnancy people constantly would predict what we were having: Because I was carrying higher/lower than someone else, I was clearly having a boy/girl. Because I didn’t have morning sickness; Because I craved cheese; Because…. One sentiment that came from both moms of boys and from moms with girls was: Hopefully it’s a boy. Girls are so much work! Or, Girls are easy at first, but I wouldn’t want to be around during the catty teenage years.
Now, being the mother of an inquisitive, active, funny, loving, nonstop little girl, I am so glad we have the honor of parenting a girl. We are years away from the life-changing tween and teen years, but so far having a girl is so much fun. Bea has the freedom to run and get messy and dig in the dirt, all while wearing a pink tutu with her hair in “half pigs,” as she likes to call her favorite style. She is equally obsessed with dinosaur books, with the fashion primer of Anna Karenina, and with building the tallest Lego tower in the world.
As Bea builds her vocabulary and forms her own opinions, we catch glimpses of those dreaded years when kids learn to be themselves, to have more freedom, and to eventually become the adults we’ve raised them to be. And here is where the claims that girls are so much harder than boys simply don’t ring true. I am excited for those awkward teenage years. I think it’s amazing that we have the chance to raise a strong, confident woman. My hope for Bea is that she grows deep and thoughtful friendships with other girls that will carry her through adulthood.
I’m currently reading Girls Will Be Girls by Dr. JoAnn Deak. In chapter 4, she talks about the teen years and how the stereotypes of backstabbing and cattiness can be in full swing. But, she also talks about the flipside to those actions and emotions:
The world often focuses on the cattiness and uncaring behavior of girls. The other side of that, which is just as powerful – perhaps even more so – is the caring and connection with friends, or others who touch their heartstrings. (pg 114)
Deak says that the cattiness is often directed toward close friends, people who girls deeply care for. She suggests that the cattiness is a form of vulnerability – something we want to create space and safety for (pg 115). She goes on to talk about how, because girls see the world in a multidimensional, nuanced way, if given the time and voice, they can solve problems in unconventional ways. She suggests that many wars wouldn’t be fought and that fights would turn out differently if women were given the power of their voice (pg 116).
I believe that when we empower women, we bring redemption to this earth. We catch glimpses of the Kingdom of Heaven when we give power to the powerless. By empowering my daughter, I hope to contribute to a world where women aren’t marginalized; Where the birth of a daughter is celebration for change rather than fear for her future. Rather than fearing an outspoken, passionate teenager, I hope to instill courage and confidence in my daughter so that she knows she has a voice. I want her to know that the way she sees the world is unique and because of that, she has the ability to transform the status quo.
This doesn’t end with just being glad we have a girl. If we have a boy I will be equally excited about the possibilities for empowering women. Teaching my daughter courage is only part of creating a safe world for women. If we have a son, I want to teach him to respect and appreciate vulnerability. I want to give him the courage and confidence to respect women so that he will contribute to a world where women can thrive.
How do you model courage and vulnerability to the kids in your life?