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A Girl's Life

Posted by Patience on December 23, 2009 at 5:08 AM in Raising Girls
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I remember it like it was yesterday. I stood on the playground at Lucy's preschool before she even attended there. She was playing wildly on a tire swing with Jack while I spoke to a teacher and friend. Her little self, as she was no older than two and half maybe, keeping up with kids twice her size.

I was just starting to grasp the idea of her strong personality and starting to venture into new territory of parenting a girl after two boys.

"I don't know Kirsten, sometimes it is as if the entire world revolves around her. The boys adore her, she has this sort of way of being, this magnetism where she calls whatever she wants into being, it kind of worries me actually. Am I going to raise a totally self involved kid here?" I asked.

Kirsten laughed and then said very seriously, "Oh no Patience, build her up, guide her strength but don't worry about that because as a woman the world will challenge her, even try to take her down, you can count on that. "

Ever since that day, I kept that conversation and wisdom in the back of my mind, never letting it go too far from my thoughts as I parent my girl. It was the first thing I thought of as I watched the new PBS documentary A Girl's Life, where Rachel Simmmons, explores all the challenges and opportunities for young girls in our world today. Rachel has spent a decade talking to girls and wrote the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence.

I was kind of scared and inspired at the same while watching the screener. I became informed on how much more my own girls will face in their adolescence and also how much potential and opportunity awaits them. If I am honest, part of me wanted to bury my head in the sand as I have a few years to go before we are there. Yet then I felt so incredibly grateful to have watched as I realized this is the very time we should be talking and considering how we can help our girls be strong and confident individuals.

I find everytime I start to feel overwhelmed by a particular topic as a parent, gaining some knowledge seems to quiet some of my fears and gives me a small toehold for the climb ahead. I can imagine it is the same for our kids.

If you are a parent of a girl (at any age) you will want to see A Girl's Life airing on December 30th at 8pm on your local PBS station. (check local listings) You may even want to watch it with your young pre-teen, teen girl and gather her thoughts on the subject. Also, check out the Raising Girls section here on the site and the new A Girl's Life page for more information.

If you are a parent to a girl, what issues are your girls facing? Does it feel all that different from when you were growing up? Got any thoughts or advice for this mom who will be there before I know it? Please share in the comments.


Karen writes...

Hi this is Karen from Oregon Public Broadcasting. Our station did an hour-long interview with Rachel and some local teenage girls about their experiences, and several women called in to share their stories of "coming out on the other side." It was a pretty inspiring hour. You can find it here

Eleanor writes...

Thank you, Patience! I'm going to set the DVR right now! My daughter is 12.

Ashley writes...

I'm not a parent of a girl, but I AM a 25 year old female. And my challenges in life didn't come "because I'm a girl," they came because I'm a big weird nerd! The insults and setbacks were based on my personality, not on the fact I'm a female. Presumably, the world is more kind to girls now than it was even 10 years ago when I was a teenager. So, to claim that you don't need to keep a child's egotism in check because "the world," the whole of it, will "try to take her down" seems very misguided indeed. Don't rely on others to be cruel, biased, and ignorant so that your child can be molded into a gracious and respectful human being.someone gracious and respectful.

maggi writes...

Wow, only moments ago I added The Curse of the Good Girl to my wish list, thanks to an email rec from a friend! What's that word, kismet? My 8.5-yr-old already seems way more preteen than I'd like right now and I know both the book and the show will be valuable to me. Heading to the Tivo now to reserve its recording! Thanks, friend ~

wii recepteur writes...

But Acia was trapped with her 3-year-old sister, Sophia, alone together - as they had been for much of their lives. Their mother was a drug addict, who repeatedly left the children to fend for themselves while she chased quick highs and fed powerful addictions. Their father, a chronic drinker and a petty thief, spent as much time in jail as out. The parents fought - often violently. Sometimes, the violence turned on the kids.

Gabbi writes...

I have an 11 year old daughter, and I see the struggles and triumphs she has. One of the things I strive hard to offer my daughter is the opportunity to be exposed to as many different thoughts, ideas, experiences as I can manage to work into her life.

Recently, she went and played in an Army Guy tournament with a family friend. She was the only girl there, the youngest and had never played before. I was picturing army dolls crushing each other, but, it actually is a very involved ranking system with points and charts and dice and all kinds of things that are beyond my comprehension.

She went and was excited. They played for 7.5 hours and she had a blast. I was so proud of her for being comfortable enough in her own tween skin to go, with only knowing 1 person and being the only girl.

I love that she had the confidence and enthusiasm to find something she loved to do, without me being there, and having no experience. She is discovering herself.

Such a beautiful thing, it brings tears to my eyes!


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