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Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy Little Women


Pip & Friends.
A most difficult weekend with rain and parenting struggles.
My main focus as a mother of three daughters has been to promote the philosophy at home that they live in a woman's world, but also the world is there's to discover: the earth is their playground. I know the rude, harsh reality of the world will hit them--astound them--that hey, some people out there actually believe this is a man's world!?!
But I believe a solid upbringing will prepare them for tackling any obstacles that come their way. I promote this philosophy in any ways. A simple way is that I have always changed the protagonists names in children's books to female names (believe me, the vast majority are always male--I venture to say 98%). More difficult tasks involve me finding whatever it is they want to try--no matter how impossible the task. If they want to try fencing for example--I will go to the ends of the earth to find a place that will teach them fencing. Also, I always allow them to go and do anything with friends, if I deem the experience will give them new opportunities to explore and new experiences (as long as the activities are relatively safe). Quite simply, I seldom say no to anything. Why say no if I can find a way to manage it?
However, this style has its consequences. Suddenly, children grow into teens who have a huge sense of entitlement to pleasure seeking activities and demand that I find a way to make their desires happen.
It is hard to see the boundaries and set them in the case of my kids because they are gifted in school and socially well adjusted. They are happy, healthy and seldom cause me any concern. This is why it is so easy to say yes, yes and yes! Why put restrictions on their fun when they are great kids?
Why indeed. I had my first wake-up call this past weekend. Behavior from a daughter that was not up to snuff--selfish, spoiled, careless and tantrum like behavior. So perhaps this is why one needs to say no more often. Not because the child has issues--but because the child doesn't.
I shower my children with love, freedom to explore, and safety when they are very young. The next step I have only begun to learn, but I think it goes something like this: at approximately 12-13, the focus needs to change to accommodate the teachings of the middle-way--self imposed limits that guide one through adulthood. Not too much and not to little--the balance that keeps one grounded. Buddhism to the rescue!
Yes, one has a trunk of biases from one's past that shape how and why we parent. Sometimes I parent too much in response to areas I felt were lacking in my upbringing. I think back to the confused young woman I was in my twenties and I don't wish that on my daughters. Can we teach our daughters to be confident and quite autonomous in their youth? I am trying. I have dedicated my entire adult life to this task: to raise confident, autonomous and happy little women. And another difficult task is to try and do this (seamlessly) with a partner--their dad. Being on the same page as the father is not an easy task. And what's even harder is trying to appear on the same page "a united front" for the children's sake when at times we're not even reading the same book!
Wish me luck. I have three little women counting on the success of this philosophy!

PS completed my first morning at Zen Studio and Knox Mnt. biking. Man oh man--I am feeling it in exhaustion--that was one wicked workout to do at 6am on an empty stomach.

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