parenting babble

Viral Video Shows How We Could All Be Holding Our Daughters Back

If someone asked you if you were a good parent, I bet you’d reply yes, or that you do your best, or [insert other positive remark here]. You give her every opportunity you can, right? But is that really the case? A Verizon ad called “Inspire Her Mind,” which was made in conjunction with Makers, highlights how parents unintentionally discourage their daughters’ interests in science. Whether it’s telling your girl “You don’t want to mess with that” when she’s exploring and getting her hands dirty, or having her hand over a power tool so her brother can finish the project, aren’t we all guilty of defining gender-types and, in doing so, discouraging girls from their natural abilities? I know I am. Over the weekend, my family and I went to play catch with my son’s new Nerf aero ball. My husband laughed at my attempts, joking that they were “girl throws.” My 8-year-old son laughed and imitated my poor throws. Thankfully, when my 3-year-old daughter Riley (yes, my girl has a boy’s name) took her turn, we all cheered at every attempt. The stereotyping was aimed at me, not her. Yet I still struggle with it. I have to be careful that when I tell her she’s beautiful, I also tell her she’s smart and that being smart is what’s most important. There is a part of me that delights in the fact that she refuses to wear dresses and only wears her hair in a simple ponytail, that she plays with LEGOs and toy cars and copies her older brother in all he does. If she’s a tomboy, so what? After all, isn’t childhood where the social conditioning begins? Boys get dirty, girls should be tidy. Boys fight and lead and are rowdy, girls should know better. We need to be encouraging these traits on both boys and girls — not quelling them! So where does the decline in passion begin? Or is it school peer pressure to be pretty and popular? In a culture that values beauty and celebrities over brains and science, which way is any girl going to go? You think we don’t? Just take a look at this ad about what it means to do something “like a girl,” in effect making it an insult. Of the female workforce, only 24 percent have jobs in the STEM field. So what can we do? What about you?

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