Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: Be True to Yourself



from http://onfirefastmovement.blogspot.com/2013/08/on-fire-quotes-of-day_6.html



My 19 year old daughter recently asked a male friend of hers if she was intimidating.  An unexpected break up with her boyfriend had her questioning herself.

His reply?  "Hell yes!  You scare the shit out of me.  You're smart, pretty, independent and guys don't know what to do with that."

I've been thinking about this conversation ever since she told me about it.  It's bothered me quite a bit.  I thought we had come further than that.  I thought my generation had eradicated the idea that if you were smart and pretty and successful you'd intimidate the male species.  Why should that even be an issue in this day and age?  It's a battle we've been fighting for too long.

 I knew from the time I was in college that I would name my first daughter Molly, after my grandmother.  Grandma was one tough cookie.  She and my grandfather eloped when she was 19 years old and didn't tell anyone they were married.  She continued to live at home and work at Ma Bell and go to college while Pop drove a city bus.  They kept their marriage a secret until she became pregnant and couldn't hide it any more.  Needless to say, her parents were in an uproar and insisted on a church wedding. She had to quit her job and give up college.  Back then, married women weren't allowed to work.  She raised 4 children and was the church organist at St. Luke's for many years.  My grandmother carved a path for herself within the limits of what was allowed for women. More importantly, she showed her granddaughters that it was OK (and advisable) to be strong and independent.  Yes, she laid Pop's clothes out every day and had dinner on the table when he came home, but we all knew that she was the backbone of our family.

When Molly was born, I so vividly remember wishing with all my might that she would grow into an independent, assertive woman who would know her mind and follow her heart.  I was determined that things would be different for her than they were for me.  I was always afraid to speak up for myself, worried that I might make someone mad.  As a result, I often made choices to keep others happy and lost sight of what my own dreams and goals were.  As Zach and Annie came along, I wished the same things for them.  At that point, the gender didn't seem to matter...I wanted the same thing for all my children:  be strong, know your heart, follow your passions, and always be true to yourself even when it means making some difficult decisions.

I recently stumbled upon a great website A Mighty Girl and I love their list of  2013 Mighty Girl books.  Even though I have raised my children, I still touch the lives of the young girls in my classroom.  I'm thinking that I want to pull some of the titles that are already in my classroom and create a new basket of books that focus on strong female characters.  If you know me well, you know I'll be buying more books too.  :)  And to be honest, these books aren't just for the girls.  They're for the boys too.  Boys need to learn that it's ok for girls to be strong.  There's nothing to be afraid of.

We need to keep pushing forward.  We need to keep having hard conversations.  Every person, regardless of gender, deserves to be heard and respected.  Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean In shares her thinking with teachers at last year's Edmodocon.  Check it out.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life Tuesday.  Please visit their site to read other slices and leave a comment or two.





13 comments:

  1. I'm glad I am the first to respond but wish I had time to write all that is on my heart. I too raised a strong and independent daughter who is a lot like her MIGHTY, if tiny, grandmother! I too am sure that confident and MIGHTY is what we want our daughters to be! Any man who is afraid of them, should be!

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  2. I am happy to report I have three mighty, strong, independent daughters. I totally get what you are talking about. My class is passing around May B. Even the boys are reading it. She is one tough cookie who fights for her self-worth and her survival. You go, girl!

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  3. I also managed somehow to raise a strong, independent daughter. She has never been afraid to pursue her dreams. She is an excellent role model for the students she works with. Thanks for the great, reflective post.

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  4. I like that you are keeping the males of the our species in mind also. I would be interested to know what Zach thinks about that comment. Having raised three sons, I think that young man's thought was an anomaly. Or at least I hope it is.
    Bernadette

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  5. Yeah, I have two of these - strong women who seem to intimidate some men. But, this is a good problem to have, right Julie?! And isn't that A Mighty Girl site awesome! Great resources and uplifting messages for our girls and our boys.

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  6. When I read that young man's description of your daughter I smiled. Yes! That is the way it should be. It is a long road, but every year I look at my students and see more acceptance for powerful girls. Thank you for the resources.

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  7. Perhaps many of us echo your story, Julie, of strong grandmothers and able daughters! My daughter is so interested in how things work that she learned well the 'mechanics' of cars (unlike her brother who was not interested)-both have skills I could list on & on, but this 'car' thing came up with some boys. They didn't like that she knew things. I too hope that this attitude might pass for my granddaughters-it's 2014 for heaven't sake. Tell your daughter that there are many out there who are happy she is smart, pretty, & independent! Love the Mighty Girl site!

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  8. There will be a man out there who will not find her looks, independence, and intelligence a threat. Until then, may she continue to be a strong young woman.

    Off to check out the Mighty Girl site.

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  9. I, too, have one those daughters. She has never had a boyfriend because she has a plan and they would just get in the way! There seems to be a pattern here...do you think mothers have anything to do with this? :) Thanks for the book link...just what I need!!

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  10. Women should not have to change their strong and independent ways just to please a man. It sounds like you raised a wonderful daughter who knows what she wants out of life and isn't going to settle.

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  11. When my daughter is far away, I worry about her. Today, your post and the comments assured me that she is okay. She is a strong woman, so like her grandmother! And now, I, too, am off to check the Mighty Girl site!

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  12. This is such an important post, Julie! Thanks for sharing about the Mighty Girl books! What a neat idea! You're right -- boys and girls both need to learn that lesson.

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  13. As a mom of two daughters, I worry all of the time about this. When I was young, my mom always told me stories about how my grandma wanted to work, but because of the time period stayed home. My mom had a great job and worked hard to move up in her company. She met many obstacles along the way and shared these with me. I sometimes worry that my daughters don't hear these stories enough. Choosing strong female book characters is a smart reminder. As a society, I'd wish we'd take a closer look at our media and the way it impacts young women today.

    Cathy

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