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Teaching My Daughters to Live #LikeAGirl

by Alexandra Kuykendall

essentials

July 22, 2014

 Teaching my Daughters to Live #LikeAGirl

It seems appropriate that a video asking what it means to do something “like a girl” is from a maxi-pad company. There is nothing more feminine than having our periods, after all. Even the brand name, Always, suggests trust because of the consistency and dependability of the single word moniker. I will be with you Always. You will have your period Always.

So when Always released a video titled #LikeAGirl showing male and female actors auditioning with directions to do a number of activities “like a girl” juxtaposed with girls receiving the same instructions, cyberspace noticed. At least my mom friends noticed. The video raises the question of how we use that phrase and the implicit or explicit messages it sends our daughters (and our sons, too!).

      

I recognize this two minute edited cyber-commercial for Always is just that -  video the marketing team hoped moms like me would share on Facebook (which we quickly did).

Here’s what stood out from this video: the actors (both men and women) portrayed silly stereotypes, caricatures, that felt outdated and forced.  The girls in the video didn’t put on any forced airs, they were comfortable with the title “girl”.

When I talk with my girls about being a girl (or a woman because let’s be serious we are big versions of our girl-selves) I’m careful about the ways that I talk and the messages they receive.  My girls aren’t handed stereotypes in our house (with the exception of a few shows they like to watch). But I’m not going out of my way to make Girl Power a rally cry either. I don’t use language that is weak or timid. I try not to use words like “always” and “never.” I don’t want my girls to feel like they need to PROVE anything. That they can simply be who they were made to be. I don’t make it a point to say girl’s AREN’T weak, because guess what? In lots of ways we are. Because we are human. We are sensitive. I overheard one of my daughters this week tell someone she’s seen Daddy cry once (at a friend’s funeral) but Mommy cries all the time. I don’t try to fight that I am emotional. IT IS WHO I AM. Is it because I’m a woman? I don’t know, but I suspect that’s part of it. But we don’t jump to those conclusions in our house that all girls are wired the same way I am. We don’t use one girl’s (or mom’s) experience as the standard for her sisters. Because, to be a girl takes many forms. As many as there are girls in the world.

Here is what I want my four daughters to know about being a girl, girls are made in God’s image and therefore wonderful (as are boys BTW). Delicate or sturdy. Gentle or rough. Quiet or loud. God made my daughters girls, and he made them unique.

We can be confident in how he crafted each of us. And yes, I say we. Because I am my daughters’ number one model of what it means to be a girl. If I embrace who I am as a woman through self-acceptance rather than self-deprecation, through humor rather than sarcasm, through celebration rather than degradation, I am modeling that to be a girl is a good thing.

So Darling, here’s to being a mom #LikeAGirl.


 


As a mom to four girls, ages 11, 8, 4 and 2, Alexandra Kuykendall is offered daily doses of the ludicrous and sublime. She is the author of this year’s MOPS International theme book, The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir and is the Mom and Leader Content Editor for the organization. This means she reads a lot and writes when she can. But don’t be fooled by long and fancy titles, most of Alex’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. You can connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.


 




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If you’re your daughter’s number one model of what it means to be a girl, what do you want them to glean from you?
 

Share your thoughts

That beauty comes from within, and that God makes everyone and everything perfect and in his image...

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Strength and that she is smart and can pursue her dreams. I also want her to be a girl that includes others and stands up for herself, but also is sweet.

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I always encourage my daughter to be who God made her to be. To enjoy being herself and to love herself for who she is. I want to her to know that she does not have to be perfect because in God's eyes she is perfect and as long as she lives for Him she will have it all.

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I want my daughter to know, above all else, that you don't have to be perfect in order to be loved. Right now she is 2 and carefree, playful, silly and joyful. I want her to keep all that. I want her to make her own mistakes and know that she's going to fall and have to pick herself back up and that is okay. I want her to see that her dad and I will always be there, loving her no matter what.

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I want all of these things too! Perfection not required. I have to remind myself of that sometimes when I'm disciplining. Perfection need not be the standard.

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I admit I "fell for" this video when I saw it on a friend's FB feed! I grew up with 3 older brothers and most of my adolescence very much wanted to be a boy (thinking they would play with me then.) It was not until later high school/college years that I really began to embrace "being a girl". I want my daughter to be confident in who God made her and skip the wishing she was someone/like someone else.

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No need to say you "fell for" it. The message and terms of being a girl are so dependent on how we grew up. It makes total sense that your experience of "like a girl" was shaped by your big brothers.

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I'd like for her to be adventurous. I grew up frightened of many things and have had to be intentionally brave as an adult. We just vacationed and I tried white water rafting for the first time--something I wouldn't normally do fearlessly. I wasn't nervous and it felt wonderful. I plan to tell her these stories and continue to model Godly courage.

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Maggie, if you are part of a MOPS group next year's theme will feel like home for you: Be you, Bravely. White water rafting scares me, thanks for today's inspiration to be brave!

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Always be kind to others!

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Shelli, you can't go wrong with kindness. Simple and sweet (in lots of ways.)

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I want my daughter to try it all! Working in the yard helping with the tools, getting dirty in the garage helping Dad fix the car, be any the great hostess when friends come over and remember to be herself all the time. A loud, silly, strong, and sensitive person who loves Jesus through everyday acts of kindness.

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How else will she know what she's good at unless she tries right? A true Renaissance woman in the making!

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Being an extreme competitor in softball my entire early adolescence to college + yrs, my main focus was to keep my focus and not let others ruffle my feathers. I was consistent, I was bold in my abilities yet quiet in expressing my words. It was my face that I believe that would shine something that all the other players questioned. I believe that Christ was that light on my face, showing His glory and protecting me and that is how I made it through.. I want my daughter to show her boldness, to be the one that encourages and let her Light Shine through in her beautiful face so that many will question her difference. 2 Corinthians 3:18 "But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him." (life application bible for students) Be Bold, Be Kind, Be Joyful

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Beautiful Jennifer. We do want our daughters to be set apart and radiant with God's love, yes!

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I want her to know she can be soft and strong all at the same time.

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Well said Cori. I want that too.

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I'm not really sure what to take from this post. Did you not like the ad? I thought it was a nice sentiment. Companies are going to advertise no matter what and having a positive message was a nice change. Strong doesn't mean void of emotion in my experience. I think my husband is strong, and he cries just as much as me. I guess I want my daughter to take from me that there's only you, everyone else is taken. There's no point in fitting in a mold because everyone is made differently. Which is awesome! We aren't defined by traditional gender roles. My husband is extremely nurturing...probably what would be considered mother like. I use power tools and fix up the house. My husband cooks and I clean. We don't pick up our roles based off our gender but rather what we're good at and enjoy to do. I want my daughter to see that the world is open to her and she isn't defined by those stereotypes.

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Krista, I'm pretty ambivalent about the ad. I didn't disagree with anything that was said, I just recognized it as advertising. Mostly I was surprised at how many of my friends shared it on social media, that it obviously struck a chord with mothers. It sounds like you have a healthy and fun household. I wish we could schedule a mother-daughter playdate, it sounds like we'd all get along.

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That you can cry and still be strong. That depending on your husband doesn't make you weak; he depends on you too. That you can play with toy trucks or dolls no matter what your gender.

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Oh how my girls have seen me cry. And then get up and charge ahead. Emotions are strength even those we've connected as "weak" culturally.

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I want them to see a confidence in the girl God made me to be and they have that confidence in how God sees them as they grow.

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Yes Celeste! I think this is how they will see, by watching you glow.

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I love what you said about defining words like never and always. We are really careful with our words. Labels limit growth and we don't want to do that to our daughters!

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Too often I slip up on my words and think "Why did I say that?" so I set some boundaries and try to offer myself grace along the way.

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I definitely want her to learn to be strong and independent I want her to be able to take care of herself and know who "she" is before she gets married or has children of her own. .

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Theresa, I agree learning to take care of yourself, in all aspects is vital to living a healthy life. She is fortunate to have a mom who loves her so.

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