Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Helping our daughters keep their voice

Speak and stand in your truth. To thine own self be true. Follow your bliss. Be yourself. How many times have we heard and read these bits of wisdom? Follow your instincts. Know your worth. These nuggets of truth really do offer a road to happiness and peace, but are certainly harder to live by than it may appear on the surface.

The past weekent, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a fundraising event for G-CAPP (Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention) and the focal message of the evening was to help our girls - our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, sisters- find and keep their truth, voice and their spirit as they experience the tumultuous time of change that is adolescence. The special guests- Jane Fonda and Gabby Sibide told their stories of finding, keeping, sometimes losing and then re-discovering that very essential strength of sense many years later- often in mid-life.

Our girls seem to lose that sense of fearlessness and confidence that marks early girlhood. I have written of this before- about how these tigers (or I guess tigresses) of girlhood are strong, smart, confident, funny, like to get dirty, play sports, dream BIG and excel at school. If you have any doubt, observe a gaggle of 7-11 year old girls at play or as I have in large numbers at a slumber party! Unfortunately, they often lose a little of that luster when hormones, pressure, competition for male attention and societal mores that they be "good girls" but also sexy girls, not make a scene, not outshine the boys and by all means fit in that begins to kick in with puberty.

So how do we help them keep that strength, that voice and confidence? I don't think there are any easy answers. But here is a bit of what I have picked up and will do my best to try and do as a mom: let them discover who and what they are - without pushing them in the direction of your choice, create at haven at home where she can be her true essential self, try to remember what it feels like to be 12, 13, 14 and be discovering who you are while making mistakes along the way, listen without judgement and talk even if it doesn't seem as though she is listening.

The other aha moment from the evening was really a reminder- you can't expect your daughter to keep her voice, stand up for herself and know her worth - if you don't know yours. That may actually be the most powerful tool of all in this quest. Do I stay true to me, pursue my dreams with abandon, require respect from those in my life and love myself no matter what?

In spite of all the history, the statistics and concerns - I do have great hope for this generation of girls.

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