Everybody’s experience as a woman is different. I grew up in the eighties and nineties, and even though I had a fairly charmed childhood, I was always acutely aware that being a girl was a “thing”.
Even growing up in the era of Girl Power, it was still very clear to me that girls have certain expectations and limitations that don’t apply to boys. This carried through as I grew up and started working. Like most women, I faced many challenges in both my professional and personal life because of my gender.
Now I find myself as a single mother, with 3 children, one of whom is a four year old girl. Like most girls her age she is full of sass. She has a larger than life personality and is pretty darn fearless. I’m not sure I was like that when I was four, but I wish I was when I was 24! It’s only now that I’m looking down the barrel of 40 that I am starting to feel the inner strength I can already see burning in her.
I want to fan that flame in her as much as I can. I want to empower her and teach her to empower her self. To do this I vow to teach her:
1. How to look after herself
I’m not talking hair and make up here. I think every girl needs to know how to stand on her own two feet. To be willing and able to look after her personal needs, whether they be emotional, physical or otherwise, without having to rely on someone else. That’s not to say she shouldn’t have her squad at her back, but she needs to be her own top priority.
2. How to be financially independent
Very much linked to the point above but worthy of it’s own mention. Women easily throw their lot in with men when it comes to finances, after all it does make sense in a shared household. However, if and when things go pear-shaped it is often women who are left at a financial disadvantage. I want to teach my daughter the importance of money and the skills to ensure she’s financially protected no matter what.
3. How to celebrate successes
Women often play down their successes for fear of looking like they are bragging or because they don’t think their achievement is as worthy as someone else’s. I want my girl to know that if she has worked hard to achieve something she deserves to celebrate that win, not matter how big or small. I also want her to celebrate the successes of other women. We need to lift each other u, but too often we see women tearing each other down.
4. How to move on from her mistakes
So many women live bound by the guilt of transgressions in the past. I want my daughter to know that we all make mistakes. It is how we learn. If we hurt someone or do damage, we do what we can to fix things and move on. We can’t live carrying around the burden of all our past errors. Life is too short.
5. How to stay true to herself
So many voices tell us as women what we should do and who we should be. I’m guilty of it myself. I’ve even caught myself telling her at the tender age of four, “Girls don’t do that”. What the?! I know better, but still fight the script I’ve been programmed with. I want my daughter to grow up knowing she can be anything she wants to be. I will show her women who have dreamed big and achieved. She needs to know she can be one of those women.
It won’t be hard to show my daughter examples of strong women. She is lucky to be surrounded by them. Not just in the media and on the world stage but also closer to home, in friends and family.
I am so proud she already walks to the beat of her own drum. I hope she continues to do so, as I will be right there beside her, drumming away too.