As the mother of a daughter, I spend a lot of my time trying to ensure my girl is proud of her gender. The bunny even brought her a sweatshirt on Easter that proclaims, "Girls Can Change the World." I'm wondering if we should have the shirt upsized and sent to "Princeton Mom" Susan Patton.
Don't know the name? She's the Ivy League alum who wrote an open letter to the Daily Princetonian warning our girls that they have a "shelf life" so they better find husbands and QUICK!!
Not surprisingly, Susan Patton has sons. She hasn't had to raise a girl in a world where women are still very much defined by their marriageability, where teenage girls already have their dream wedding in mind, along with the perfect ring.
As the Princeton Mom told our daughters this past week:
My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless ... Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.
On the importance of marrying your intellectual equal, I'll agree. But for my daughter's sake, I have to say that the rest of it is utter claptrap.
I'm not raising a girl to find herself a husband so she can be successful. I'm raising a girl who will be successful and maybe find a husband somewhere along the way.
Believe it or not, the two do not go hand in hand. A girl can opt out on marriage and still get ahead in life. She can still be happy. She can decide to wed and flounder.
And yet, that's hardly the message being sent our daughters' way. Jokes about the burden of paying for a wedding begin as soon as a girl is born.
It is expected that our girls will marry.
In my house, it's not a given.
I don't expect my daughter to marry or not marry. I don't want marriage to define her.
I want, instead, for her to be defined by the values her father and I have tried to instill in her, by the interests she develops, by the talents she hones. I want her to be happy to be herself, not happy because she's part of a two-some.
When my daughter goes to college (which is still a decade away, thank goodness), she might find a husband. But it won't be because she's been ordered to get a guy while the getting is good. It will be because she's decided she's ready ... and it won't stop her from changing the world.
Have you talked to your daughters about marriage? Are they already planning to get married someday?
Image by Jeanne Sager