As P gets older and becomes such a little person I’m reminded of the awesome task before me as I raise a daughter in today’s world. Parenting well has always been difficult I imagine. But in this age where children have so many options and so many potential pitfalls, who amongst us can claim expertise in the best way to get them from the ABC’s of childhood through the unknowns of life.
When I was in college, I was a counselor for a few years at a wonderful summer camp in Minnesota. Before my first summer there, the director provided everyone with a copy of Reviving Ophelia. He hoped it would help us better understand the type of emotional nourishment these young girls were searching for and in knowing, be better equipped to offer it. At that time, the book was way over my head, in many ways I was still a malnourished girl myself, full of doubts and wondering about what and who I was. But one thing I did take away from that book and from those summers at Camp Lake Hubert was that feeding the female soul can never begin too early. It is an undertaking from the moment she enters the world.
How do you teach a young girl confidence? Self-respect? A healthy sense of humor for the world and herself? How do you show her that she can be the leader of the free world should she choose but at the same time let her know that if motherhood is her calling you’d be just as proud?
How do you ensure that the values you prioritize pass to her just as easily as your love of chocolate did? Things like love and friendship, showing kindness to strangers as easily as you do your family. Instilling in her that no matter the color of a person’s skin or who they choose to love or the quality of their clothes, that they are her equal and deserve to be treated as such.
I have no idea really. The best I can do is smother her with love and acceptance. Be the open-minded creature I want her to be. And then hope it sticks. Hope…
I think that’s why a commercial caught my attention a couple days ago. I have read and seen the wonderful Campaign For Real Beauty Dove launched a couple years ago. I’m sure everyone has come across it in some form or fashion. But the other day they were talking about a program they offer to young girls – workshops in schools and churches and other gathering spots around the country. This spoke directly to me as it offers girls some answers to the overwhelming and confusing questions we’re all facing. Issues like self-esteem and self-acceptance; not buying into the media’s portrayal of what a “real” woman looks and feels like. You can go online to their site and there find interactive tools for your daughters, nieces, grand-daughters as well as great information for the Mothers and Mentors in their lives.
As you probably know, I joined six other wonderful women a couple weeks ago in a new blog venture. Though weight loss was the common bond bringing us together, so much more has come to light – so many more similarities between us. We’ve all either posted or commented about the idea of being “skinny” vs. the reality of what our bodies are capable of. We’ve questioned the images we face each time we pick up a magazine or turn on the television – and how that completely contradicts with the real us in the real world. Here are these wonderful, successful women in the prime of their lives and they are making the connection that healthy always trumps skinny and THEY are the only ones that determine the who and what they are going to be. If I could bottle this wisdom and then inject it into P, I’d be set!
So it’s gonna be hard. Raising a healthy, happy daughter is probably the greatest task I’ll take on in my life. But I’m up for the challenge. I’m surrounded by excellent role models not only for P but for myself. I grow more confident and sure of my choices and opinions each day. I love me a little more each day. My hope is that it won’t take P so long to get to here, but as long as she gets here, I’ll have succeeded.