Being a girl is hard. Some are barely out of pre-school when they realize there are mean girls and encounter body image and self-esteem issues. It's frightening, isn't it.
We see it happening and know exactly what they are going through because we went through it too. It's hard watching, wondering how to make growing up easier.
So when I recently came across a blog on Mommyish.com about a mother's desperate attempt to find positive female role models for her young daughter, it got my full attention. She had spent weeks trying to find a female firefighter or police officer to show her child that she could do and be anything she wanted. I was certainly touched by the effort. Then I thought, why is she looking for some random lady for her kid to admire? Shouldn't she be the woman her daughter looks up to?
I think the most important role model isn't some person in a uniform plucked off the street. Yes, it's an admirable example of a woman succeeding in the male-dominated workforce. But it's only part of the picture. That image alone isn't enough inspiration to help a young girl climb over all the hurdles she will face. Some children need the kind of inspiration that can only come from seeing someone close to them beat the odds or reach a hard-won dream. That is the most valuable lesson we can give girls desperate for a mentor.
For me, the most significant inspiration I had growing up was my own mother. She isn't a cop, CEO, political leader, or titan of industry. She's a therapist. It's a career she loves and one that didn't come easy. During my childhood, I watched her work her way through college and then grad school, all while taking care of a family and working full time. She has always been smart, tenacious, hardworking, and determined. Skills I learned by seeing her every day of my life. She was my hero -- not because she ran into burning buildings or had her own clothing line. She was someone I looked up to because she had a goal and never gave up on it even when things got tough.
For a kid like me, a working mom was the best example I could've had. I have often turned to my mother's experiences as a guiding force during changes and hiccups in my own career path. Now that said, not every girl needs that particular type of example. But if your daughter is desperate for someone to look up to -- and is looking past you in the process -- that should give you pause.
We should aim to fill that void. It may be easier for career-driven moms, but I think there are ways to demonstrate that drive, determination, and gumption even if you aren't jetting off to the office every day. Show her your passion, share the ups and down, and the victories (no matter how big or small). It could be the example your daughter will learn from for the rest of her life
Who do you think is the ideal role model for young girls?
Image via dr_tr/Flickr