parenting daughters: fairy wings or lear jets?

kathy caprino’s “7 crippling parenting behaviors that keep children from growing into leaders,” published january 16 in forbes is a decent take on the ever-morphing and time-adjusting true north all parents seek, or should. below is my response, which is in partial agreement only, especially as pertains to raising daughters.

my response, posted and “called out,” january 24, 2014:

“the professional creds and fact that the writer is a parent is indisputable. is the writer a parent of daughters? i think this is a very important distinction, for there evolves a very unique skill set w each parenting experience. i am parent to both and am fascinated by the innate differences in addition to the amazing similarities that show up in each.
i agree 100% w the teaching of disdain: that is the fountainhead of prejudice.

i challenge the items here that point to parenting w an agenda, which i think becomes self-defeating as an overriding construct. here, it’s the focus on taking a girl and to mold her into a super-driven, gender-neutralized person. that is parenting w an agenda, and it comes coupled with inflated regard for one’s child, no matter how intelligent/talented the kid is. in this kind of forum, we are talking upper echelon anything. this is not a cozy magazine with pumpkin cookies on the cover, yes? let’s agree that this forum presumes no ordinary outcome. there we must be mindful: society-changing, great people grow up and out of neglect and adversity; lame dullards grow up and out of best-of-the-best parental resources and super-parenting. there is no guarantee or formula for greatness, even here.

aside from the fundamental true-north mandates of parenting: to teach right from wrong as it pertains to self and to one’s effect on others, family to society at large, and to keep the child safe as they learn how to navigate their immediate world and later the world at large, a parent should focus most on creating a balance as dictated by the innate characteristics/drives/desires of the child, as w each kid it is so very much their own identity. a parent’s goal should be to grow and learn in tandem w the little human they are raising.

we tread on thin ice as guides when we prescribe identities to our children, anything beyond a personal best and fostering of personal pride is just as often a source for later rebellion and/or resentment and confusion in later adult life. the verboten pink mohawk haircuts (i chose illustriously) might become the mishandled mid-life crisis decades down the road….

role definition should be more about nuance and balance than power-programming. it is also, allowing, in this case a girl, to embrace whatever traditional sex-roles there are. guess what – they are there and always will be. what % balance they strike is generally what circumstance (both in one’s control and not) mandates. there is nothing wrong w embracing the nurturer, there is nothing wrong w embracing the home-maker. our offspring take many years to raise – that premise justifies the notion that parenting w acknowledgment of the sex-roles we do indeed play has to be OK too. i do not understand this shunning of traditional aspects of our roles and i don’t think it should be handled as a purposeful reversal in our parenting styles.

and to denigrate fairy tales and anything that comes from that realm is imo invalid. for most americans, yes, it’s the disney-fied versions, which are the EZ sources via both tech and pop culture; but not getting past the EZ/superficial in anything at all is a universal shortcoming. anti-fairytale/princess stance ignores the ages-old story-telling tradition that spans time and geography, cultures and economic strata. there are universal truths and conflicts personified/encompassed in these stories. let us not detest them but look deeper and teach our children to appreciate not only the stories but their versions throughout history, their histories and sources and later, their published writers. (and bingo, we are deep into the beauty of literature) take a look at the brothers grimm, at their careers and lives and what they stood up for. and where grimm naysayers are concerned: the violence card is old and invalid. humans are wired to appreciate conflict, fear and the overcoming of it. and for every “more fortunate” real princess (one who has choice, autonomy, respect adn highly educated) i will show you a complacent trophy – the most famous princess of this time is/was diana. case in point.

i have 2 adult sons and a daughter. she wore wings and wacky gown combos until they were frayed at the edges. she now designs complex, multi-level structures during free time on her computer and proudly shows me the jellyfish tanks and glass rooftop structures…i had and have no problem with fairy wings, for i feel assured they morph in time to other means of flying.

my primary parenting beef? when parents work harder to be “friends” w their kids than parents. the superficial presentation of love when jr is kept from dealing with correction or conflict via constant appeasement is not congruent with the parental love that goes hand in hand with the building of a strong human foundation in one’s child.
great topic – thx!”

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