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As mothers, we're the first and most prominent female
role models that our daughters (and sons) have. Our behavior sends powerful
messages about how women should act and how we fit into society.
Are you doing
any of these seemingly innocent habits in front of your child?
1. Saying 'I'm sorry' when you've
done nothing wrong
I'm a chronic over-apologizer.
Friends have told me this before, but I never thought it was a real problem
until recently, when a man accidentally bumped into my 2-year-old daughter and me at the grocery store. He clearly was the one who ran into us, but Beatrice immediately
looked at him and said "Sorry!" The man smiled and complimented me on how
polite my daughter was. But good manners do not include apologizing when you've
done nothing wrong.
Over-apologizing is something many women are raised with,
but we need to stop. When you apologize for no reason, it sends a message
that you are worth less and deserve less than the people you're apologizing to.
2. Canceling an outing because you don't have
anything to wear
I wish I could say I'd outgrown the desire to
just call and cancel plans whenever I'm not feeling pretty in any of the
clothes I can find in my closet. That feeling still creeps up sometimes. But these days, I
make myself just grab something and go. Socializing is about the experience not
about showing off your appearance. The people you are going to see are (or should
be) interested in spending time with you, and you should be interested in
spending time with them, too—not showing off how hot you look.
3. Letting your child see an argument but not its
Parents should strive to spare our kids from witnessing
major arguments with our partner or anyone else. But it can actually be helpful
for children to see minor disagreements between adults if we also let them see
how we come to a resolution. As mothers, it can be tempting to try to seem like
the adult version of a princess in front of our daughters, as if we're always
right and never make mistakes. So when our kids see us squabble with another
adult, we don't talk about it with them afterwards. And we certainly don't tell our kids if we had to
apologize or work out a compromise with our partner later.
...[I]n modern society, you'll only be demonstrating that her value as a women lies in her appearance and sexuality.
But if you're not
willing to admit your faults and model how a healthy adult woman works
to resolve differences in her relationships, you'll be setting your daughter up for a lifetime of difficulty with conflict resolution.
4. Gossiping about other women with your
Gossip is tough to resist. But if you can show your daughter empathy
and a desire to support other women, rather than participate in an environment of constant competition that society creates between us, that's a trait that
will serve your daughter well in life—both in her friendships and her own self-esteem.
5. Comparing yourself to other women
Never use another woman's appearance or accomplishments
to put yourself down in front of your daughter, even if you think it's
good-natured. This is especially true for unrealistic images you see in the
media. If your daughter tells you look as pretty as Princess Jasmine, don't
tell her that you wish you did, except you're older and you have a flabbier
stomach and flatter hair. Just say, "Thank
you." Show her that how we look compared
to other women just doesn't matter.
6. Using your appearance or flirting to get special treatment
Never flirt your way out of a traffic ticket or wear a short
skirt to the mechanic shop for a discount. Maybe if we still lived in the
middle ages, the art of using femininity for personal gain would be a helpful
skill for mothers to teach their daughters. But, in modern society, you'll only be
demonstrating that her value as a women lies in her appearance and sexuality.
7. Turning your nose up at practical skills because you are
There is no task that's beneath you because you are a
woman, and there is no skill that's not ladylike to master. I'm not saying you shouldn't let your husband
take on the "manly duties" around the house if he likes to. But if you're ever in a situation where you
need to change a flat tire, replace an old toilet flapper or grease a bicycle chain, never refuse to do
so because of your gender. There's a good chance your daughter is actually
interested in learning how to do these things and wouldn't you
rather she know how to do them for herself someday?