Raising Girls

I’ve given a lot of thought to how and why I spent so many years trying to please a man that was unpleaseable.  I’ve determined that some of the reason is a feeling of unworthiness.  I felt like I didn’t deserve better.  I felt like whatever anyone else wanted was more important than what I may want.  I felt like things were my fault because I didn’t help him get better, I wasn’t smart enough or pretty enough.  So I squashed my feelings and did things to please others rather than please myself.  This included people that treated me like I was less than human.

I realize now that this sense of unworthiness did not start with him.  It started long before I met him.  It comes from being raised to be a proper, nice girl.  Some parents tell their girls to put others first, be respectful of everyone, be nice.  Girls in particular are taught that sticking up for themselves is not proper, even wrong in some cases.  This message gets transformed from be nice and selfless into a feeling of other people must be more important than me.  Other people deserve better than me.  Can’t you see how this can be misinterpreted by the child?  It even makes sense to me as an adult.  Of course I would feel less important if I always have to put others needs and wants ahead of mine.

My Mother would be horrified to know that this was a lesson she had instilled in me.  She had prepared me to live with an abusive partner and tolerate more than she could imagine.  This was not her goal.  Her goal was to make me a productive, peaceful member of society.  She wanted me to be a strong woman.  The message just got all scrambled.  I’m not blaming her in any sense.  She told me I could be anything I wanted to be, do anything I wanted to do.  I believe that this is a pervasive problem in our society and until girls are raised to value themselves and see the worth in their desires and feelings we will continue to have this cloud of domestic abuse over this country.  Hidden by shame and fear.

Parents should review the message they are sending their child.  Are they instilling a sense of worth in the child or making the child kowtow to everyone else?  Is the child encouraged to speak up and express their needs and desires or are they discouraged and told they are being selfish or unkind when they express and opinion or desire?  Maybe not outright but could the parent’s response indicate to the child that they are less important, their desires don’t count.  Being nice and a productive member of society are important but not at ones own expense.

I don’t have the answers I only know the results if we don’t change how we raise our kids.

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4 Responses to Raising Girls

  1. Mari says:

    I completely agree with you. I doubt parents intentionally set out to harm their own children, it’s just that sometimes, they don’t realize the child’s perception of the world and the impact that their teachings instill in them. I had very dysfunctional parents and their actions still influence my life today but I’ve learned to forgive them and to forgive myself for believing that because of the way I was raised, I deserved less than everyone else… I wrote a post about my father’s influence on me on this post http://myblogaddiktion2011.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/what-the-soul-knows-it-never-forgets/. and I thought I’d share it with you.

    Sorry if it seems I’m stalking you but I have some time on my hands right now and what better way to spend it than getting to know another fellow blogger?! 😉

  2. S. says:

    Hello,
    I have been poking around here for a few days and I am rather enamored with your writing. You have a wonderfully analytic and pragmatic way of expressing yourself while remaining emotional and vulnerable at the same time.Thank you for articulating these feelings, you have helped me to have a small epiphany. I realized that while there have been times when I have been wholly confident in myself, but I have never had self esteem because I am too nice and have grown up believing and thinking that other’s feelings and thoughts are more important than my own. I feel like perhaps I am reading this now because I need to see these words. Thank you so much for putting them out there.
    I look forward to reading more.
    Best,
    – S.

  3. S. says:

    Reblogged this on The Secret World of S. and commented:
    A wonderful and thought provoking piece on what it meant to be raised a girl and that gray area of wanting to be nice and being there for yourself.
    Enjoy!
    – S.

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