Be Good to Your Daughters

I’ve been tagged. I’m not a meme-ey kind of gal, but this one was interesting. I won’t be as snarky as I was in the Tribal Wives meme . . . promise.

Him Up North has been wondering about daughters and the meaning behind the John Mayer lyrics

Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too…

And he wants to know:

If you are a daughter, what did you learn from your father or mother, positive and negative?

If you have daughters, what lessons have you passed/will you pass onto them?

Do you see something in yourself which you recognise as an inherent (unlearned) trait from your parents?

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
(Everything Isn’t Nice in Girldom)

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?

About Beauty

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.

About Strength

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.

About Wisdom

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.

About Love

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.

Susie at New Day New Lesson will have something to add I'm sure.

Vickie at Vegemitevix will humour us and slip some insight in there too.

Naomi at Organic Motherhood With Coolwhip - Do boys "soldier on?"

Heather at Notes From Lapland because she hates memes and I like tormenting her.

And my new friend, at The Contented? Maybe. I've no idea if she's having a girl or a boy. I've no idea if she knows herself as I haven't had a chance to bakread her blog enough yet. But what I have read impresses. So there.

Tag, You're It.


  1. Ouch, because right now I am struggling with one of my daughters and I always struggle with being a daughter.

    Will have to think about this one. Hopefully this physical yuck that has settled on me will go away soon.

    Thanks for the tag-never an imposition-cuz am a big enough girl to say i can't if I can't . As for Heather...I agree tormenting is good. Off to find the 20 memes need to do so can tag her on all of them . LOL *evil laugh*-made me feel better that.

  2. yeah, yeah, let's all pick on Heather *sulk*

  3. But picking on you is the sincerest form of flattery, no?

  4. Ah, yeah, Susie? It's imitation not innundation. Glad to see you enjoyed my post, though ;-)

  5. No smart comments or jokes. Just want you to know that I think that was a brilliant post. Genuinely thought provoking and has got me wondering what lessons I am teaching my sons, good and bad...

  6. Wow, what a fantastic response. You obviously are highly aware of how to equip a girl with what she needs to enter society. That's a precious thing to pass on.
    I only have sons but I totally hear you re. the expression of pride not being mistaken for surprise.
    You've done the meme proud, lovely. Thank you xx

  7. okay, so now Steve has made me look bad * sticks tongue out at Steve* I feel I need to write a proper comment about how wonderful the post was. Of course anything I say now will just look trite so I shall say only this:

    Very thought provoking and I'm going to struggle to do it as much justice.

  8. Heather you are truly wonderful too. Really. Someone ought to give you an award... ;-)

  9. Lovely post. Really, really lovely.

    I have a daughter too, so can fully relate to your words.

    LCM x

  10. Am loving all these posts about daughters: my eldest turns 18 this coming week and I'm trying to write about her and my parenting journey. I'm getting some great ideas :)

  11. Love the post (as always) and am loving the game, just not sure I get the rules (I'm new to all this blogging / tagging / you're it malarkey). So, am I right in thinking I now write about my daughterly experiences and, if so, do I then tag other bloggers too?
    How exciting!

  12. I love the honesty of this post. It could easily have turned into a pile of sentimental drivel and instead it was beautiful and sincere. And I love that you tagged me. But what do you mean about boys "soldiering up"? I'm not sure if I'm understanding perfectly, but I definitely think that I try hard not to make my boys feel like they have to be tough, maybe to the opposite extreme. My husband is never pleased when he comes home to boys with their toe nails being painted and such. I'd love to write a post about this but first email me and let me know exactly what you meant so I can answer fully. Love ya! xoxoxo


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