Monday, June 10, 2013

Raising a Strong, Confident Girl Without Labels

Don't mess with Power Ranger Sarah;
she has power
As a mother of a daughter I have always been hyper-sensitive and aware of not having my child be put into categories or having certain expectations of her just because she is a girl. 

If she wants to like princesses, go for it. 

If she wants to love Spiderman and other superheroes, I encourage her passion.

If she wants to like My Little Pony, so be it.

Loving her blue bicycle
And, if she wants to have a birthday cake with Power Rangers on it, then I support her interests, fully.

If she wants a baking kit, tool set, dollhouse or blue Thomas the Train bicycle I will not question her desires and will aim to provide balance and reality in her life fully supporting her interests. 

Just because my daughter is a girl she should not be expected to just like pink and purple and wear only dresses.  If she wants to dress up as superhero I will be the first, along with her Daddy, to support her wishes. 

Spiderman would be proud
to have Sarah on his team
While she may have a pink room, she also chose blue drapes. Along with her stuffed animals of dogs, monkeys, lambs and fairies, there are a whole host of super heroes, and more.

Additionally, while my daughter likes to wear dresses, she will layer them with a whole host of colors that don't match, according to me, but she seems to like and miraculously makes it all work together.

It's this creativity and personal choice that makes me smile.

As her parent, I am responsible for her safety not her personal desires and interests. As a human being she has thoughts and ideas. Who am I to tell her not to dream and experiment?

So, you can imagine my annoyance when a piece of paper came home with Sarah today from school asking that the boys where button down shirts and the girls wear dresses for their preschool graduation.  While Sarah may wear a dress, I am disgruntled that this had to be included as a recommendation.  If my child wants to wear pants then she will wear pants.  I adore Sarah's teacher and intend to say something tomorrow during our parent/teacher conference.  However, I don't like that a teacher, especially, let alone others are categorizing our children.

It's the same thing as saying that a quiet child is shy or a loquacious kid is loud.  Putting children into categories closes their minds to a certain way of being, and they start to become what others "label" them as.

As parents, and teachers as well, we should be encouraging kids to be themselves, and discover on their own what that really means for them, including what they like, versus being told what to like. 

So, for example, when my child says she wants to get herself dressed in the morning for school, she knows that as long as her belly and tush are well covered and the outfit is seasonally appropriate,  she can wear whatever she wants. 

Happy child with messy
hair equals free spirit

I find this all rather ridiculous.  As I write this I think back to when Sarah was a little girl and her hair was short. Even when she wore pink people still called her a boy.  Some strangers would even have the audacity to ask me how come her hair wasn't long.

I mean...really?

What is wrong with people?
I could have willed Sarah's hair long but it just didn't grow fast.  There weren't enough bows or headbands to please Sarah and the natural messy look was her preference.  So, I went with it. I let my child do what she wanted and didn't force her to look the part others expected her to be.

The nerve of people to speak out on what they are thinking.  But, it doesn't stop them.  It's like an illness and a sick sense of responsibility that if they don't say something then they are doing a disservice. 

The reason...because there are incredibly ignorant societal standards that we have become victim to.

That, and people are just nosy and think they are right and want to be up in your business.

This is not far from the truth for celebrity fashion designer Rachel Zoe and her son. It just so happens that her son has long curly locks. Apparently a story that ran today says there are people criticizing her saying that she should cut his hair.

Enough is enough.

If my daughter wants to bake a cake, I will teach her.

If she wants hammer nails into wood and make a bird house, I will show her.

If my child wants to do what makes her happy I will fully support her and ignore the stupidity of labels.

Let's just let our children BE whoever they want to be and do whatever makes them happy.

Life has too many parameters in it.  As parents we can choose to ignore them and some of us have. 

Rachel Zoe, ignore what the critics are saying.

And, I will continue to expose my daughter to life's great experiences without gender parameters just because others says it's so.


  1. I applaud your point of view. My question to you, is would you do the same if it were your son? (let's say, for argument's sake, he's 8) If your son wanted to wear a pink frilly dress to school, would you let him? What if he wanted a hello kitty backpack? What if he wanted to wear dresses every day?
    Just curious!

    1. Thank you for your response Sandling All Day. This question has run through my mind many times before, during and after writing this blog post and for years leading up to now. My daughter dresses up at home and at kid-centric venues like museums and parties. If I had a son I would let him dress as he wants at home and at these venues. I do have some control over what my daughter wears to school, as I buy her clothes, but let her put her own outfits together. My daughter knows that we don't wear costumes to school, dinners, etc. I admit that I would be challenged in this situation had the roles been reversed and my daughter were a son. I am not so sure I would be as flexible...and not proud to say this. However, I am a huge proponent of personal style and a person's relationship with oneself and would do my best to support my child's wishes. Maybe there is a balance that you can discuss together.


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