Like a gold ring in a pig’s nose is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion. Proverbs 11:22
I’m not the first mother to wonder about my kid’s choices in role models. And I’m not writing this because my daughter has suddenly gone all Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus or (insert your favorite female celebrity villain here.) Still, it has come to my attention recently that being a lady isn’t really high on anyone’s priority list anymore. So much so that recently when I told my daughter that a certain behavior was not “lady like,” she looked at me with a puzzled expression. Mom fail 😦
Here’s the problem: I’m her mother. And one of the things I pride myself on is being a lady. Yet my daughter seems pretty unaffected, confused, (and quite possibly) doesn’t care about what that means. I’ve been told that as a mother, I am my daughter’s primary influence and still, I’m not seeing the fruit of my labor. I feel like I’m losing the battle in a war where I thought we were all on the same side. And by we, I mean women. Turns out the rules of engagement have changed–BIG TIME. So maybe I need to come up with a new strategy…and I need YOUR help.
The whole dilemma requires a little sorting out. When I think about what it means to be a lady, I will admit that the first couple of things that come to mind are superficial, you know, surface stuff. Good manners, age appropriate dress, polite disposition…you get the drift. I can hear the groans now–THIS ISN’T 1950. To which I have to say, I know and I’m not trying to make a case for going back to that decade (and for your information I wasn’t even alive then, either.) But I think there is something to be said for these external characteristics, because like it or not they demonstrate the heart and spirit of a person. For example, good manners are the outward expression of one who puts others above themselves and exhibits generosity and kindness. This person is not a pushover, soft or a “goody goody” as my daughter might call them. (BTW, in kid speak a “goody goody” is a derogative term and means that someone is only pretending to be proper.) Good manners reflect a common courtesy, demonstrate a love for one’s neighbor, and reflect a sense of personal pride. I hold these things in high regard and I don’t often see them in young people. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see young girls swearing, name calling, belching, lying, dressing provocatively and flat-out acting anything but lady like! And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, females can do anything that males can do, but I still think an argument can be made for being the “fairer” sex. (And that doesn’t mean letting the guys of the hook for their lack of decorum, but that’s another post.)
I want my daughter to say please and thank you, to acknowledge someone when they walk into or exit a room, to know how to sit in a dress, to make eye contact with adults, to speak and not yell, to chew her food without putting it on display for the world, to treat others justly and with respect all while having combed (tangle free) hair and a good attitude (no white pearls required.) Instead, I see her influenced by her rough and tumble brother, her peers, music that glamorizes booty shaking and countless television shows where kids make the rules and adults are portrayed as irrelevant idiots. Girls are depicted as shallow, devious, backbiters who will stop at nothing to get ahead and put others down in the process. If we reap what we sow, what exactly are we setting our children up for? In no way, shape or form, will I give up on my little girl or the girls of the world for that matter. I refuse to rely on the school, church, social clubs, media, or society to raise my kids…but I’m not above asking for their help or support. We are in this together.
I know this won’t be wildly popular. Accountability never is. But holding our young girls to something better is important. I want my daughter (and yours) to be confident, caring, strong, and intelligent all while being afforded every good opportunity that the world has to offer. I want our little girls to be taken seriously and to know their worth isn’t based on how pretty or thin society judges them to be. I don’t want our girls to derive their power from sex and provocativeness in the way that so many of today’s celebrities do. Similarly, girls do not need to tear down other girls to make themselves standout. Our girls are worth so much more than that. At the same time, I want them to take pride in who they are on the inside and outside without feeling like they have to act like males to get ahead in this world. If we can live in a culture that claims to celebrate diversity, then why can’t we live in a world where acting like a lady isn’t a negative or a slam against women?
A lady exudes grace. A lady stands out in a room for all the right reasons. Her life and the way she carries herself speak to her great character. A lady is powerful and others are drawn to her strength. I feel like the lines were so much clearer 20 years ago. Somewhere we have blurred the boundaries and gotten off track. My little girl is special (and so is yours!) I want her to grow up in a society where men hold the doors open for women, swearing like a sailor is actually left to the sailors, gentlemen who wish to court my daughter come to the door to meet her parents, and she is valued for the jewel that she is. I pray she is not influenced by cleavage and short shorts at every turn, feels that she has to keep up with the boys to be taken seriously, yell or be rude to voice her opinions or settle for anything less than a gentlemen.
I need your help. Please be the tasteful, responsible, smart and beautiful women that I know you can be. Hold yourself accountable for all the little ones out there. They are so easily influenced and if you sell yourself short, you are not only letting yourself down, but you’re providing a disservice to little girls everywhere. I remember when my daughter was tiny and she dressed as a princess and believed she was really something special. Some days that tiara never came off! She even went through a spell where she wore a white pearl necklace (a la June Cleaver) with every outfit, everyday. She was royalty and not the diva-like, spotlight seeking, entitled, stop at nothing to get ahead females we see today. Just a precious child who believed she could do and be anything. Somewhere along the way she realized that real princesses don’t exist and was left to settle for the ways of the world. And so today, I’m desperately seeking female role models who will represent women in a positive light. Women who will be real, authentic, elegant, modest, smart, athletic, and all around awesome! I want my daughter to see these women at the grocery store, at school, at the ballpark, in politics, on television…basically everywhere. And I want her to want to be a lady, not because her mother told her to, but because as the quote goes, “being a female is a matter of birth, being a woman is a matter of age, but being a lady is a matter of choice.”
I am right there with you. It seems like a losing battle, an uphill battle at the least. The sad thing is the women at the grocery store, at school, and a lot of times even their church will not be good role models. I have come to the conclusion that I have to raise my girls to be “ladies” in spite of the world. I have to equip them to be respectful, polite, courageous, and confident even though that’s not how most of their peers or women in general act. I will, however; seek out women that I know will be that influence for them. People like their friends’mothers ;). Like the women I hang out with. The woman I am. Thanks for the inspiring words.