Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Raise a Girl?

Another friend of mine is pregnant with a GIRL! This is cause for celebration -- more gals for our growing tribe.

But this has provided me with the nudge, well, yet another nudge, I needed to get started with a project I've been mulling since Kate recommended it to me this summer: How to Raise Girls.

There are so many things I've learned, just in the last five years of raising these three girls -- things that haven't been chronicled all in one place yet. And I'd like to create a warehouse of these ideas for my friends who are just now entering this marvelous world of raising young women.

For example: Martial Arts. This tip I picked up from one of my Additional Mothers*, Dr. Laura.

So many girls are in ballet and gymnastics, and that's fine -- up to a point. But then, the body issues start to come into play, and for our family this is a potential eating-disorder-disaster. My kids are tall and muscular, with normal proportions. Hooray, right? Not for ballet! Their heads are way too big to make it past the age of 11 or 12 in the ballet world. And for gymnastics, they are too large all around, compared to competitive gymnasts.

I'm not saying there is no point in participating in a sport in which you can't get a gold medal at the Olympics, but I am saying that your girls are going to be LOOKING AT mentors within these sports for years and years. And they are going to notice, with acute precision, who is rising to the top of the sport and who isn't. And that's going to be the small-headed petite girls, my friends.

Enter Master Kim and our local tae kwon do studio. Chebbles just earned her orange belt two weeks ago, and we're bursting our buttons with pride. It isn't a pretty, girly sport. But there are some pretty, very polite women with black belts in that studio, and I love that Chebbles is watching them perform their tough high kicks, then they apply another layer of mascara and give each other hugs. Hooray!

I also prize time that Chebbles gets to play with boys. And she's not very good at interacting with the boys in her tae kwon do class yet. One of them tried to give her a high five after a little scrimmage, and she just gave him a withering stare. Yesterday, another boy tried to engage her in conversation, "Chebbles, I notice that you grew at least an INCH!" and again, the withering stare.

In both cases, her mother came down on her like a ton of bricks about politeness -- you NEVER leave a guy hanging with a high five, and you ALWAYS acknowledge compliments politely.

But part of her problem is she's flummoxed by boys. And ballet or gymnastics wouldn't give her an opportunity to spar with them, outrun them (or get beaten!), then trade high fives.

So for us? Tae kwon do, dudes.

Anyway, please share with me, either here or privately, any other "tips" I should include in this project. This friend is due to have her darling in 24 weeks, so I'm making that my deadline for a good outline of tips!


* The notion of the Additional Mothers is another important part of raising girls, I think. Some of my Additional Mothers know me, and others don't, but I take advice and love from the whole gang.

4 comments:

Shaken Mama said...

I've gotten some great off-line feedback about this topic, including the importance of daddies in the mixture, and that I might be missing the great value in ballet and/or gymnastics. Thank you!

sammensurimshuset said...

Hey.
Love the concept of a "parenting manual"
I am a firm believer in "there is no right or wrong" as a parent, by which i mean you have to adjust to your individual child.
If a boy wants to dance, let him dance.
I grew up in a Soccer/handball or choir kinda village in Norway and i sang in the choir due to being scared of flying balls hitting my head...
at the age of 9 i started Ju Jitsu and that was fantastic!
I truly believe martial arts gave me courage and self assurance (enough to kick a guy in the head as he was determined to "have his way" with me at a party)

extra curricular activities are in my oppinion way too gender segregated and i applaud your effort to cross those grayzones and make your children better adapted to an equal world!

Don't worry about your daughters inability to talk with boys... it'll come.

Keep on Blogging. You write really well and i will return to read.
(my blog is in Norwegian, but I write about what's in my head...)

Toffee said...

I was a girly girl who did ballet, etc., but all my close friends were boys and I enjoyed playing with them more (Barbies were boring to me). So it's probably not anything you're doing or not doing (like many things in parenting).

Toffee said...

Sorry, didn't finish my thoughts!

I did take martial arts later in life (college) and loved it too (probably because there were lots of boys in the class and I felt like a tough chick being able to hold my own (do better in somethings!).