Tuesday, March 22, 2011
raising powerful girls with Ms. Banerji
There are plenty of hugs, kisses, snuggles, quality time and encouragement. While I tell her how beautiful she is...I spent waaaay more time telling her what a good job she did, how beautiful her artwork is, what a great kick that was. It is a daunting task ...how can I raise a strong girl? This was one of the questions I posed to Rita Banerji...and here are her suggestions; I felt they deserved their own post. We all have daughters, sisters, friends that we can apply these tips to. And because sometimes we have to mentor and mother ourSELVES...this is great information to have.
This was the question I posed to Ms. Banerji:
Do you have any advice on how to raise strong daughters?
And here is what she said:
Gender is a social construct – a costume or mask that your culture hands you to wear. ‘Helplessness,’ ‘timidity,’ ‘reticence,’ ‘compliance,’ are all aspects of the feminine role that girls are conditioned into through culture and socialization from a very young age. The only way to overcome gender socialization, I think, is to teach children (boys and girls) from a very young age to find and assume their unique individual identities, however much it goes against gender/ social expectations. So I’d say:
• Teach them to find them Selves by listening to their inner voices, instincts and inclinations.
• Teach them to choose what’s different inside them even when it is at odds with what society says.
• Teach them that they are each exceptional in their own way, and that you are going to be at their side, that you will be their strength, as they discover, explore and express their individual identities.
• Teach them that choices come with responsibilities, as well as the freedom to change if their first choice is wrong.
• Teach them that they have the right to be wrong, and that’s the path of discovery and growth.
• Teach them that if they believe in themselves, and their dreams and goals, they don’t need the approval of the whole world.
• Teach them that they will face harshness in the society, and rejection and that it does not matter as long as they believe in who they are and what they are doing.
• Teach them to value experiences that allow them to be themselves, and people who love them for who they are not what they do or have.
• Teach them to celebrate each time they take a stand against public or cultural pressure and stand true to what they know and believe in, even if they won’t get a public award or ovation for it.
*Rita, you make an excellent point about raising strong children (girls and boys). For the truth of the matter is that if we truly raise strong sons, we are raising men who will encourage and facilitate gender equality.
Oh! And I just purchased her book on Amazon and I can't wait to start reading it.
-if you missed the first part of my interview with her, you can read it here
-to sign the petition against India's 50 million + missing girls, go here or here
-Thanks so much Rita. I will be posting the second part of Ms. Banerji's interview soon.
If you have any tips/insights of your own, please share them!