Friday, September 30, 2011

On raising a boy vs a girl

As I sit here on my EIGHTH day of maternity leave, I've gotten a nice lovely chance to catch up on reading some of my favorite blogs.  

I talk about her all the time.  Remember Rebecca from Girls Gone Child?  She wrote this wonderful post in response to another article somewhere else about complimenting your daughter.

Basically, the original article related complimenting young girls on their looks to telling them beauty is more important than brains and by complimenting them on their looks you are encouraging them to diet as a pre-teen and expect surgery at 17.  Along with other things.  

Rebecca disagrees.  Her post is fascinating to read because she really knows how to say it, ya know?

With my impending D Day, and with it the impending knowledge of whether I will be raising a son or a daughter, the topic really struck a cord with me.  Why do we focus so much on topics such as these for girls?  Maybe it's why I think a boy would be easier to raise.  There isn't so much controversy on what to say and when to say it.  How to raise them.  Why is that, by the way?

Like Rebecca, I don't see the topic as polar opposites.  Why do people think you can be beautiful, or you can be smart.  You can be a successful career woman, or you can be a mother and wife.  You can be an adventurer, or you can have a family.  This has probably been the hardest thing to get past as I have come out of the college world and into the working world.  My mom struggles with seeing this, and I have never understood it.  Why can't you be a little of everything?

I was raised in a world of compliments.  I was also teased in school for my good grades (and really bad athletic skills).  I was not a pretty child, but I never really saw that because my family is so loving and complimenting.  My grandpa always told me I should be a model!  HA!  And while I wish I had learned a little more about fashion and beauty at a young age (I still know squat) I at least learned the value of cleanliness and taking care of yourself.  First impressions are important, and they often start with how you look.  While I was not a gorgeous child I was always clean and dressed appropriately and I was confident in my body.  Isn't that the important piece?  

I'm actually of the mindset that the opposite is true when you don't compliment a young girl.  Telling her she is pretty is going to instill confidence.  Avoiding compliments is going to make an already self-conscious teen question herself and make her wonder if she needed something more.  Like... surgery?  a diet?

I think for the most part parents need to just chill out and stop over-researching every tiny little detail.  You raise your daughter in a world where everything is possible- beauty AND brains, successful in the classroom and on the field.  Yes, it is possible to have a little bit of it all.  You don't worry about what you say and when you say it- you worry about the examples you show her (AND HIM).  You teach them the importance of a healthy lifestyle by HAVING a healthy lifestyle.  You teach them confidence by HAVING confidence.

But seriously... Why does it seem like there are way too many complicating things to think about when raising a girl vs raising a boy?

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