Fathers be good to your daughters
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too…
If you are a daughter, what did you learn from your father or mother, positive and negative?
I am a daughter, well that’s rather obvious. And I have a daughter. Anyone who has read about her “little half penis"” or her ambulance ride knows she keeps me on my toes.
In my column, I wrote a while back about the lessons I had unwittingly taught her:
It's important that girls not fall into gender stereotypes. But what we're asking them to do is be everything at once. Adult women complain that they can't be superwoman: great career, great mother, great wife and look pulled together. Yet, we want our girls to be supergirls
I wrote about how I was careful to compliment her on more than her looks but wondered if in doing so I was pressuring her too much.
My daughter is four years old. Already I worry about the pressure on her from society . . . and from me.
What have I taught my daughter?
When I look in the mirror and say “ugh” to myself, I’ve taught her that there are standards of beauty we must judge ourselves by. I’ve taught her that I’ve failed at those standards, even though she thinks I’m “the prettiest.” Therefore, I’ve taught her that what she thinks is beautiful is not important.
When I tell her “you look gorgeous in that dress” I’ve taught her that natural beauty is not enough, that we must be dressed, like meat, to be appreciated.
When I spend time pinning flowers in her hair so she can be a fairy, or sewing skirts that are dancey enough, or admiring her multicoloured people drawings, I show her that I respect and understand her ideals of beauty.
When I call her “beautiful” or “pretty princess” or “prettiest girl in the world” she smiles with that inner knowledge: that she is gorgeous and it is noticed.
When I lose my patience or lose my temper or cry in front of my children, I show her that emotions can overpower us – whether this is a good or a bad thing to learn, I don’t know.
When I lift and pull and carry and dig without calling for help or shirking a job, I show her that weakness is not a trait to be admired, or a way to barter favours.
She doesn’t know the stresses in our lives now, but as she grows older, I hope she will learn to carry on, to fight for herself and her family, to fight for her love, the way I have and do.
Her brightness delights us and surprises us, even after these years, so I hope that in our reactions to her we don’t express surprise that she is so smart, but pleasure and pride.
Here I have no doubts. I have shown her how to hug and kiss and cuddle; how to surrender herself into the warmth of love; how to approach everything with passion and enthusiasm. I have shown her that love is a many-sided thing; that it is soft and violent, perfect and marred. I know she understands that love is something we create, not fall into, and that it carries on through our unbending pursual of it.
When she dances around the kitchen singing a song about her new rubber boots, I know that I have taught her to love life, to embrace it’s pleasures no matter how small, and to express herself and her love for the world. And I dance and I sing with her, because I know that love and our world are things we create and creation is a thing best shared.
So now in true meme fashion I've got to tag some folks. This is the part I'm really horrid at as I always worry it's an imposition.