I ain’t raising no lady. That’s right I said it. I am the mom of a tween girl and a nearly teenage son. The tween angst is high in this house right now and it tilts heavily toward my girl. My husband and I are raising a young girl but by no means do I ever want her to be a lady. Remember the lady rules back in the day:
- Speak when spoken to
- Be submissive to your husband
- Always be polite
- Don’t be bossy
- Don’t be overly competitive
- Learn how to cook, sew – hone those domestic skills
- Don’t play ‘xyz’ sport that is for boys…..Engineering ? Heavens no also for boys….insert every other gender specific toy, activity, profession, etc.,.
These were the messages many of us midlife and older females received as girls. Rubbish complete absolute rubbish. And the idea the boys should never cry, equally stupid and harmful. Enough with the gender stereotyping, please let’s be done with that crap.
Here are my rules or shall I say suggestions for raising a female, male, dog, goat, gecko….you get the idea:
- Always be kind. When you can’t be kind, be quiet. The urge to be a jerk usually passes pretty quick and leaves no icky after taste.
- There are times to be quiet and times to speak up. The right answer is not always obvious. However, if you are ever being physically harmed or verbally and/or mentally abused it is always right to speak up – not to the aggressor but to someone that can help.
- You will make mistakes and it is usually OK. I say usually because I want you to know that there are rare instances where your mistake is so huge that you find yourself pretty far from OK. And honestly, most of the time you can pick yourself up and claw yourself back from even the biggest disasters….sometimes you need to ask for help. Eat that elephant one bite at a time. You may have to forge a new path, one nibble at a time.
- Follow your gut. Your stomach usually knows when a situation or a person is off. Listen to that inner nudge. There is an exception to this…if you are a survivor of a traumatic event or you are struggling with mental illness, you may need to run your thoughts by a trusted confidante or mental health professional. I say this out of love and personal experience. There have been many times when the thoughts in my own head could not be trusted.
- Find a way to forgive people that have wronged you. But wait my mother/father/brother/uncle/second grade teacher…shhhhh…dear one. I am not telling you that you need to be best friends or be in a room with this dreaded person ever again. What I am suggesting is to forgive the person enough so that you can move on from the place of pain that you find yourself in. Hate, anger, resentment those are poisons, do your best to remove those toxins. Forgiving someone is an act that you do for yourself, because ultimately you suffer if you can’t move on.
- Be accountable for your actions and take responsibility for your own happiness. Before blaming someone for a circumstance or situation take an introspective look in the mirror. If you are not happy try to identify what the problem is and start digging for a solution. No one is entitled to a “happily ever after” and if a person gets there…chances are they worked their ass off for it. Being content is an inside job. It’s about attitude, perseverance and believing that you are worthy of happiness.
- Take care of you at all times. Self care is not self indulgent – go to the gym, take voice lessons, meet with friends, do yoga, take the class in Mandarin, write that novel – whatever self care is for you, make room for it. You’re worth it.
The hardest part about raising kids is knowing that I can’t take my personal experiences and inject the wisdom I have gained from them into my kids. They have to learn this stuff for themselves. Learning is painful at times. They will be betrayed, feel snubbed, have their hearts broken and hurt others along the way. Life is messy and imperfect and I can’t stop the inevitable pain that will come their way. What I can do is be a sounding board, an honest confidant, a safe place and a soft pillow to land on.
If you could only pick one thing that you could teach your kids, what would it be?