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tips for raising teenage girls, teenage girls, Signature swing park, Boston

It’s summertime and I’ve been spending a lot of time in close quarters with my tween and teenage girls. Not going to lie, being present all the time for girls this age is challenging ( they have a lot to say, all the time) but if you can just listen through the noise that surrounds all the very important things they are trying to tell you, you will find that these young ladies are pretty freaking amazing.

Not in a hokey, sugary sweet way but in a fierce, no none sense, stand up, speak up soul beauty that sees love and wonder in the world. Teenage girls intuitively seek the good and they are not taking the other bull ish. These girls are powerful and they have voices they are not afraid to use and I’d like to think we, the women who came before them; their mothers, sisters, grandmothers and aunts who busted their butts to be seen have empowered them to fight back. Maybe we couldn’t make the world exactly what they deserve but we’ve raised them to be fierce enough to survive it and continue the work to make the world better for their daughters.

tips for raising teenage girls, teenage girls, Signature swing park, Boston

READ ALSOTips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship Part 1

Teenage girls are by far the most powerful force and resource our world has to offer. They are change makers and a force to be reckoned with. As parents, we have to ensure that they never lose that. I want to lift my girls up to always keep that fire burning inside of them. I never want them to be afraid to speak their truth. I want them to know that their words, thoughts, beliefs and ideas are important and worth being heard.

“If you have something worth saying, stand up and tell your truth. Never be afraid to speak up and stand up for what’s important to you!” My dad taught me this. ” Where there is a will, there is a way. You can be and do anything you want to if you are willing to work for it. No dream is too big.” My mom taught me this. These are words that carry me through my life. These are the gifts I want to give my girls and all the little girls and teenage girls and women of the world. “You are amazing and you are stronger than you know. You can do anything you want to. You are worth it. Don’t let anyone else steal your joy. The only person you need to make happy is you. You have to live with the woman in the mirror. Be your best version of you. Nobody’s opinion counts.”

tips for raising teenage girls, teenage girls, Signature swing park, Boston

These are  my tips for raising teenage girls and not damaging your relationship Part 3

Teach them respect; of others and most importantly of themselves.

My dad was all about respect and I never fully understood his obsession with his need for us to be respectful. He wanted us to respect ourselves and respect others, especially our parents. Then, I realized that the respect you have for yourself sets the bar for how others treat you. If you don’t respect yourself enough to make good choices and be willing to walk away from people who don’t respect you, you will never be able to live your best life. You will be at the mercy of other people’s opinions of you. Treating others with respect is a reflection of who you are as a human being. I teach my girls to treat everyone with human decency but reverent respect has to be earned. Parents you also need to remember to respect your teenage girls. They need to feel like they have a say. They are no longer toddlers, they are an active part of the family and as such their thoughts and opinions do matter.

Let them know that you don’t give a damn what everyone else is doing.

I tell my girls daily, “I don’t care about other people’s kids.” I do. But my point is, if Claire wants to vape and send sexts to the entire 7th-grade male population, that does not make it ok or acceptable.  I’ve taught my girls since they were babies not to compare themselves to others so I hope it works out in the end. I know everyone feels peer pressure but I’m hoping that I’ve raised the girls with enough self-respect and confidence that the need to like themselves trumps the need for others to approve of who they are.

Family time.

This is so important. Teenage girls need family time. Don’t be fooled by the devil may care, self-absorbed persona they’ve taken on recently, they still need that touchstone of family. They need to be able to let down the façade of coolness that all teenage girls put up to fit in. They need time to be goofy and funny and imperfect with the people who will love them no matter what. These moments playing games, traveling, telling jokes, being silly, doing face masks or just watching movies or going for walks are where the memories are made. This is the downtime they need in their life to survive the stresses of being teenage girls.  It’s hard. Remember?

Limit screen time.

Not because you are mean and you hate devices but because time is precious and it’s moving a million miles a minute at this phase, give them space and respect their ideas but make sure they know how to interact socially with people face-to-face before you send them out into the world. So many children have their faces stuck in a device from toddlerhood, it’s just a symptom of the world we live in today but I refuse to let the girls be so digitally engaged that they are not physically engaged with the world around them. I want my girls to talk to people, look them in the eye and be present in those moments. You can’t do that when you are distracted by your phone, iPad, social media or the online world. I want them to live and act in the real world because those experiences with people, even the bad ones, are worth living.

Don’t be afraid.

Teenage girls can sense fear. Just kidding, they’re not bears.  But I do have to say, I am really loving this phase of raising teenage girls. Like I said it’s just begun but I feel that we are growing closer. I am the welcoming wagon for womanhood and I feel like I’m a pretty damn good party thrower. Just remember beneath all those gangly body parts, confused skin, hormones, and eye rolling is buried that newborn baby they laid on your chest all those years ago and they need you, even if it seems like on some days they don’t want you. Don’t be afraid just love the shit out of them, all day and every day. At the end of the day, you are doing the right thing.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship Part 2

Well, these are the last of my Tips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship for now, what are yours?

 

 

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tweens, teens, Teen Girls Rebel when Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, teen girls rebel, girls fight rape culture, #MeToo, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

You’ve heard of burn books? We all have. I remember in high school they were called slam books; same difference. Same jerky idea, different decade. Well, a group of high school boys at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Maryland are bringing it back. But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the girls are refusing to stand for it. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the teen girls rebel. They will no longer stay quiet. Like teenage superheroes, these girls fight rape culture.

Teen boys rating girls on their looks is a practice as old as time. For as long as men have been objectifying women, girls have been getting rated by their looks in burn books, slam books, bathroom walls and in guy group texts. It’s a national pastime for men and boys. The undiscriminating discriminatory act of objectifying the part of the population born with girl parts. It’s sickening.

This time the list is in an iPhone Notes app. It included the names of 18 girls in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, ranked and rated on the basis of their looks, from 5.5 to 9.4, with decimal points to the hundredth place. There, with a number beside it.

A number rating system for girls like they’re cattle being rated for purchase. A group of male students created the list over a year ago and it’s been recirculated. Spreading like a plague through text messages and whispers during class. One male student saw the name of his friend, Nicky Schmidt, on the list and told her about it. Within 24 hours, most of the senior girls knew about the list. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the girls are not having it.

READ ALSO: The Problem with Little Boys

In the past, tween and teen girls would see the list, hang their head in shame and pray no one brought it up again. It’s shameful. It’s one thing to feel ugly ( as we all do in those awkward years) but it’s quite another to have everyone at school to see your national ugly average rating in notes, much less hear it whispered as you walk through the halls. The thing about these sorts of lists is that it shakes even the most confident young women to their core. Even if you’ve always thought you were pretty, these books have a way of crawling into your psyche and taking root; growing, twisting and digging in.

As someone who suffered from eating disorders and was never sure of herself, at least in the looks department, finding myself in a burn book would have made me feel so isolated, unsure and depressed. As a grown woman, it would make me rage because of two things, 1) I know I’m attractive enough 2) I don’t care what anyone else thinks about how I look or think or exist. But this is as a grown woman, it took years to have this confidence.

Yasmin Behbehani, a student at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, found herself ranked on this list after her friend, Nicky Schmidt, let her know about the list, as a heads up. But Behbehani didn’t want to know about this list. She was trying to stay in her lane; just trying to survive high school is hard enough without extracurricular  humiliation. She’d spent her entire high school tenure recovering from eating disorders and trying to avoid this kind of triggering comparison to her classmates but there is was in a text message with a screenshot of the list, typed out in the damn notes app.

These kinds of lists are not new. And they will never not exist. As long as boys are raised to objectify women with no real consequences they will continue to do so. But today is not yesterday, or last year, or the last decade. Today, we live in the world of #MeToo.

We are raising ours girls to not take this kind of treatment. Raising our girls to know there are more important things to be than beautiful and to speak up, no to scream, when we need to be heard. We’re empowering our little girls. We are not afraid of you any longer. You can’t demean us with your stupidity and objectification because we know we are more than our parts.

READ ALSO: Raising Girls to Survive Misogyny, Sexting and Slut Shaming

The girls of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School felt violated, objectified by classmates they thought were their friends. They felt uncomfortable getting up to go to the bathroom, worried that the boys were taking notes and editing their scores.Objectification feels horrible; judged at your very existence.

The things that no one counted on in this “boys will be boys” rape culture that we live in is that  there is power in numbers. Dozens of senior girls spoke to the school administration and to the boys, demanding not only disciplinary action in response to the list but a school-wide discussion about the toxic culture that allowed the list to happen in the first place. This resulted in one male student being given an in-school detention for one day. It wouldn’t even be on his record.

Not happy with the disciplinary action, Schmidt texted 15 friends and told them to tell all of their friends to show up at the school’s office the next day during lunch, “to tell them we feel unsafe in this environment and we are tired of this toxicity,” Schmidt wrote in her text. 40 senior girls showed up, packing into the assistant principal’s office where Schmidt read a statement she had written.

We want to know what the school is doing to ensure our safety and security,” Schmidt said. “We should be able to learn in an environment without the constant presence of objectification and misogyny.”

READ ALSO: The Reality of Being Born a Woman

The girls and administration agreed that to have a meeting with the male students in the program, including the assholes who created and circulated the list. On International Women’s Day, almost all of the students in the IB program — about 80 students — met in a large conference room for what was supposed to be a 45-minute meeting during fifth period. It lasted over 2.5 hours.

The girls shared personal stories and impassioned speeches about how the list made them feel. They shared their stories of sexual abuse, harassment and the lasting effects objectification has had on them. And something miraculous happened, the boys heard them. In fact, the boy who created the list stood up, took responsibility for the list and apologized for the hurt the list caused. I am so proud of the girls for uniting and standing up and demanding that their voices be heard. Silence is the enemy of equality.

The thing this isn’t new and the kid who made the list and the ones who passed it around are not the minority. The girls who spoke up and refused to be treated like this, they are the minority in our culture. We need to make doing the right thing easier and more common. It shouldn’t be this hard for women to be treated like humans. We shouldn’t have to fight for a basic human right like being treated like people and not objects.

What will we do next time we find out teen boys rated female classmates on looks? Where will we be when our teen girls rebel?

To be honest, since the #MeToo movement began, I have shared my own stories. I shared them before but I never realized that men don’t actually understand what it feels like to be a woman and be objectified. They have always been bigger, stronger and more privileged than women. They’ve always lived in a boys will be boys culture and they’ve watched, from the time they were little boys, the world apply different rules for women and girls. Boys assault women in so many ways and all they get is a slap on the wrist, even from women. But no more.

Since the day they were born, we’ve been raising our girls to respect themselves and to value no one’s opinion over their own. I’ve taught them that no means no and if they have to scream that, then do so. We’re raising our girls to be brave and determined. They know that they are as good as any man and in some instances, even better.

This generation of moms is raising an army of feminists ready to do battle for their human respect, equality and dignity. If you can’t get on board with that, that’s your problem. It’s happening. Be ready for it. Don’t stand in their way. This is their future and their worth is more than any ranking a man could ever give them.

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VSCO, VSCO girl, how to be a VSCO girl,

I’m a VSCO mom. I used to be a VSCO girl, back in the 90’s. I was one of the original VSCO girls, so I do not begrudge my girls a little social consciousness with a side of scrunchie, messy bun and oversized shirts. I love that my girls care more about the environment and saving turtles than who they’ll be giving their scrunchies too.

According to Google, VSCO girl is a term, generally used as an insult, for a young, usually white woman who posts trendy pictures of herself edited on the app VSCO. Stereotypes of the VSCO girl include wearing Birkenstock sandals, drinking out of Hydro Flask reusable water canisters, saying sksksk and I oop, and generally seeking attention online.

I actually love the VSCO girl idea because at the heart of it, what it really is, is young girls finding themselves. We’ve all been there. When I was a teen, I was several iterations of myself. I was a new wave emo girl, I was a prep, I was a social activist, I was a crunchy hippie and I was a little bit grungy. I was most definitely a nerd, an artist and at one point, I was even a club kid. I’m pretty sure I was 1000% more annoying than any kid saying. “sksksk” ever could be.

READ ALSO: Parents Guide to Teen Slang

Just to be clear, I am a grown woman now and I always use the VSCO app for my Instagram. I’ve been wearing Birkenstocks since the 80’s. My girls are wearing some of the scrunchies I’ve had since the 90’s and still wear now. Hydro Flask, Swell, Yeti…I have all of them because I drink water almost exclusively. Water is life. I am and have always been very socially conscious and I’ve put my money where my mouth was. PETA, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and WWF, I’m a card carrying member. I want to save the world. I want to save the elephants and yes, I even want to save the turtles. We (the whole family) own those metal reusable straws. We recycle and vegetarian is how we roll most days of the week.

VSCO, VSCO girl, how to be a VSCO girl, a parent's guide to understanding VSCO, VSCO girl trend, In defense of VSCO girls

What does all of this have to do with anything? What it means is that right now, your little/tween/teen/even early 20’s girl is trying on different personalities for size to see which one best fits her. Just because that might not look like what you imagined, doesn’t mean it’s not right. She’s finding her way and there is nothing we could want more for our girls (and boys) than for them to be the best them they can be and be comfortable in their own skin as they do it.

So what if she’s carrying around a hydro flask? So what if her sweatshirt can fit 2 girls inside of it and her shorts are tiny? So what if her favorite hairstyle is a top knot? Maybe this is how she feels beautiful and how she feels comfortable in her skin. Is it really the worst thing that she can do to have a wrist full of scrunchies? The “sksksksksk” is just another way to say “lol” and who among us hasn’t used that? And I know that no one who ever said, “Gnarly, dude, rad, totally or awesome sauce” is making fun of sksksk.

VSCO, VSCO girl, how to be a VSCO girl, a parent's guide to understanding VSCO, VSCO girl trend, In defense of VSCO girls

The thing is VSCO girl is being thrown around like an insult to our girls. I know we all think it’s cute and the VSCO girl memes are entertaining. Hell, even our girls being VSCO girls might be entertaining but do we really need another derogatory term to belittle our girls? There are already so many employed by the misogynist of the world do we need more?

Just remember, these tweens and teen girls are just trying to figure out who they want to be in life. It’s like trying on clothes to see what you feel the most beautiful in. Let her look at herself with an untainted heart. Maybe she’s a VSCO girl and maybe she’s not but let her figure that out. As parents, especially as moms, we are here to support and guide our girls into adulthood not shame them into feeling less than. The world will do that soon enough.

READ ALSO:  Teen Girls Rebel when teen boys rate Female Classmates

Being a VSCO girl is harmless, even if it may be annoying to you. I’m sure when we were teens, our parents thought a lot of the fads and slang we used was weird and crazy too. Maybe they said something to make you feel less than about it or maybe they just let you try it on for size. Bless my parents, they let me be and loved me for who I was, whomever that was on any given day.

This is how we grow and evolve into who are meant to be. Just imagine if that process was cut short by ridicule and we never fully reached our potential because of what other people thought? Or what if we never felt comfortable in our own skin because someone else made us feel like we weren’t good enough?

You are good enough. Your VSCO girl is good enough. Viva Hydro Flasks and long live the turtles. So next time you think about using the term VSCO girl as an insult, ask yourself, is this giggle worth making my daughter feel small or making her think twice about sharing the next iteration of who she will become with you? Because before any of us can become who we are meant to be, we have to be who we were. This is how we grow up.

READ ALSO: The TRUTH about Parenting Teenagers from a Mom of Teens

What do you think of the VSCO Girl? Did you used to be one? Are you raising one? Whatever the case may be, hug your VSCO girl, let her be all the versions of herself she needs to be to become the fabulous, fierce woman she is meant to be and keep your “and I oop” moments about her in your head (unless she’s in danger). This too shall pass.

XOXO, VSCO mom out.

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Throat punch Thursday

Throat Punch Thursday,INdia

This weeks Throat Punch was sent in by one of my great friends. You know it’s truly worthy of a throat punch when your friends in the real world send you an email with the subject Please Throat Punch. I read the article she included and boy is this worthy of a throat punch of epic proportions. It is so horrendous that I am actually speechless. So I will simply share with you excerpts from the actual article.

MORENA, India – The room is large and airy, the stone floors clean and cool — a welcome respite from the afternoon sun. Until your eyes take in the horror that it holds. Ten severely malnourished children — nine of them girls.

The starving girls in this hospital ward include a 21-month-old with arms and legs the size of twigs and an emaciated 1-year-old with huge, vacant eyes. Without urgent medical care, most will not live to see their next birthday.

They point to a painful reality revealed in India’s most recent census: Despite a booming economy and big cities full of luxury cars and glittering malls, the country is failing its girls.


The discrimination happens through abortions of female fetuses and sheer neglect of young girls, despite years of high-profile campaigns to address the issue. So serious is the problem that it’s illegal for medical personnel to reveal the gender of an unborn fetus, although evidence suggests the ban is widely circumvented.

“My mother-in-law says a boy is necessary,” says Sanju, holding her severely malnourished 9-month-old daughter in her lap in the hospital. The woman, who goes by one name, doesn’t admit to deliberately starving the girl but only shrugs her own thin shoulders when asked why her daughter is so sick.

Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense in marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents’ funeral pyres.

But it’s not simply that girls are more expensive for impoverished families. The census data shows that the worst offenders are the relatively wealthy northern states of Punjab and Haryana.

Though abortion is allowed in India, the country banned revealing the gender of unborn fetuses in 1994 in an attempt to halt sex-selective abortions. Every few years, federal and state governments announce new incentives — from free meals to free education — to encourage people to take care of their girls.

n the district hospital’s maternity ward, a wrinkled old woman walks out holding a just-born girl wrapped in a dirty rag like an unwelcome present. Munni, who uses only one name, is clearly unhappy. Her daughter-in-law has just given birth to her sixth girl in 12 years of marriage.

Will the daughter-in-law go through another pregnancy?

“Everyone wants boys. A boy takes care of you in your old age,” Munni says.

As a mother-in-law, Munni will likely have enormous control over her son’s wife, influencing how many children she has and nudging or bullying her to bear a son.

“Women cry when they have girls,” nurse Lalitha Gujar says as she spoons powdered coconut, peanuts and sesame seeds into bowls of fortified milk to nourish the tiny children.

All nine mothers of the sickly infant girls say they want sons — to look after them when they get old, because their sisters-in-law have more sons, because their mothers-in-law demand male children.

“If a woman has a boy, for a month she will be looked after. If she has a girl, she’ll be back in the fields in three days,” says Sudha Misra, a local social worker.

An exhausted mother who faces neglect, poor nutrition and blame for producing a daughter is likely to pass on that neglect, social workers say. For an infant, that can mean the difference between life and death.

“A malnourished child will get sick and the chances of death are very high,” Bandil says.

For the very poor, the pressures to bear sons result in mistreatment of both the baby girl and mother. And rich women are not immune to this mistreatment if they fail to bear male children.

For those with money, it’s often about being able to locate a radiologist who, for a cost, will break the law and reveal the sex of the fetus, or being able to fly abroad for such tests.

Throat Punch, Chuck Norris, Thursday, florida 15 year old boy killedThroat Punch to you India for allowing such unspeakable acts..not only do you look the other way at such behavior, if caught you basically only issue a small slap on the wrist to those who violate the law. What the hell is wrong with you? You say that men are more desirable. I know that you are not the first or the only country to feel this way, but riddle me this..how the hell do you expect the species to survive if you murder the very people..the ONLY sex, that can have children. You say your sons will take care of you. Well, who is supposed to have the sons if you murder all the potential brides and mothers. As a mother of daughters, this behavior is disgusting and intolerable. The world needs to put a hard stop to this. We need to give more than a slap on the wrist. We need to give India a Chuck Norris Throat Punch to knock some sense into them. Girls? We don’t need no stinkin girls! Yeah..yeah you do. Without little girls, there would be no women, without women there would be no babies, with no babies ,there will be no little boys. With out any little boys, there would be NO MEN! Gendercide sucks and those that perpetrate it deserve more than a theoretical throat punch.Let the little girls live!

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raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls, Madison Hu, Olivia Rodrigo, #DisneySMMC

I’m officially the mom of a tween girl and a teen girl and honestly, I’ve been afraid of raising teenage girls ever since I was a teenage girl. Hormones make teenage girls feel crazy and I was awful in so many ways. I occasionally read my old diaries to remind myself that I was the worst. This allows me to have some patience with my own teenage girl.

Don’t get me wrong, I got straight A’s and I didn’t smoke or drink or do drugs but I was driving at 13 and going to clubs in downtown Chicago since I was 14. But it was very innocent because I was so naïve. I know how ridiculous it sounds.

We’ve hit that point in raising teenage girls where I can’t say, “When I was your age…” because I’ll be ratting myself out and giving them too many bad ideas. I would die if Bella wanted to drive my car or, heaven forbid, asked to go to a club in the city. I’d be too worried. Apparently, I am way less cool than my mom must have been. I want to tell my girls to keep singing at the top of their lungs when the rest of the world tells them to be quiet. That’s the kind of mom I want to be.

What were my parents thinking? Maybe I didn’t even ask. Maybe I bent the truth as to where I was going and what I was doing. I can’t even remember. I’m sure my teen brain rationalized it somehow. I just know I was doing a lot of things that could have gone really terribly and been pretty dangerous, only I was too stupid and pumped up on hormones to realize it.

READ ALSO: Dear Me: A Love Letter to my 13-Year-Old Self

My youth was not misspent, it was very much lived and I have no regrets but the thought of my girls doing some of the things that I did, scares the hell out of me. I’ve spent some time reflecting on what it really means to be raising teenage girls and figuring out how to get through this phase with our relationship intact and without them doing anything that puts their lives in too much extraneous danger.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

Here are my tips for raising teenage girls (and tween girls) that I’ve learned so far.

Let them be who they are meant to become.

You have to stand back to give them space to make mistakes and not judge them and tell them that you told them so. You’re a parent so your main job is to love unconditionally and support them, even when they don’t make the choice you would’ve recommended. The difficulty of this task is not lost on this reformed helicopter mom.

Speak positively.

As a mom, for the past 13 years, I’ve had to learn to lose the sarcasm and learn to speak more positively. Thankfully, for all of us, I was getting my Masters in Elementary Education when I got pregnant with Bella and so I had a couple years of actual courses that taught me how to interact with small children. Positive reinforcement is always better than punishment, so moms, always look for the sunny side, even in the teen years.

Remember to breathe and count to ten.

This one is hard for me sometimes. Patience is not something that comes naturally to me. I am very much a speak first then think kind of person. But, especially since entering the tween years, I’ve made it a point to stop and step back for a moment before reacting. That doesn’t always work because I’m a human but just the fact that I am cognizant of the situation helps me to react better to my girls.

READ ALSO: How to Talk to your Tween about Everything

See past the eye rolls.

Oh, the amount and severity of eye rolls that I have endured while on my journey to raising teen girls has been head spinning. I find this tween/ teen habit to be particularly offensive but I try to remember how often I rolled my eyes at my parents (and still do to people on a daily basis) and I try not to be too offended. I know it’s not personal, teen girls think everyone and everything is stupid. This is their defense for when they don’t understand, don’t approve or don’t know what else to say. I’m not even sure they know they are doing it anymore so don’t take it personally and if you can, ignore it. Easier said than done.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

It’s good to have expectations but don’t force your agenda on them. You can’t relive your life through them.

Your teenage daughter is not your chance to relive your youth. Don’t force them to be who you were; who you wish you were or who you could never have been. My philosophy is that they are people and by the time they are teenagers, they have formed some thoughts and beliefs of their own. You have acquired wisdom from living through it already once so be there to guide them and offer advice but you cannot tell them what to like or enjoy. They are their own people. Let them be fierce. 

These are my tips for raising teenage girls (and tween girls) that I’ve learned so far.

Well, I started writing this post and it ended up being very long, so I am making it a 3 part series. I will publish the rest of the 15 tips over the next weeks.

What are your tips for raising teenage girls?

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Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh, Anita Hill, Supreme Court Justice, rape culture, Hero for girls

I’ve been quiet about the Brett Kavanaugh and Dr.Christine Blasey Ford situation, not because I don’t believe it’s true but because it probably is. Kavanaugh aside, this story is not a new one or even an unusual one to any woman.

My girls are 11 and 13-years-old and I’ve already told them to never leave a drink alone with a guy or to take a beverage that’s already open. I’ve taught them not to walk with headphones on and to always be aware of their surroundings, especially at night. I’ve taught them how to fight back. I’ve taught them that no always means no and if someone ignores their no, fight, run and report. It sucks that we live in a world where I have to teach my girls to be on the defensive so that they can try to stay safe but it’s even sadder that we live in a world where victims are shamed, blamed and not believed.

Christine Blasey Ford is my hero and a champion for all of our little girls. A true hero is one who stands up in the face of conflict and puts it all on the line for the greater good. She came forward because she felt it was her civic duty and the price she has had to pay is nothing short of everything.

“You’ve never been afraid to walk outside alone at night?” This is the question that I asked my husband.

“No.” He looked baffled at the idea of a grown person afraid to walk outside in the dark alone. He was completely unable to relate.

My husband is a 6’5”, college-educated, Caucasian man who weighs about 250 pounds. There’s not much that scares him and certainly, walking after dark alone, even in foreign countries, does not cause him any hesitation. I, on the other hand, have never felt comfortable walking alone at night. Even when I’ve had to do it. It’s done very quickly, hyper-aware of my surroundings and terrified of what could happen.

Yet, every young girl and woman that I’ve ever known is trepidatious at the least and more so terrified. There is an entire market based solely on this premise; pepper spray, female defense classes, Tasers and little pink guns. We are born into a world with a vagina and a knowing that this very fact makes us vulnerable.

We live on the defensive. We are taught from a very young age to protect ourselves, from the clothes we wear to where we go, what we do and how we behave. It is inferred that sexual assault is preventable if only we do all the right things but the moment we step out of those lines, we have put ourselves in harm’s way and we are, in some way, to blame. We knew better. We knew we weren’t supposed to walk alone at night. We feel shared guilt and shame as if we willingly participated in our own attack by simply being born a woman.

READ ALSO: My MeToo Story

If you were to talk to a million women, privately with promised anonymity, every single one could recount at least one time (but I’m betting from my own experiences, many more) that she was sexually harassed, assaulted or raped. I don’t know a single woman who has not been, at some point or another, pushed into a corner and been made to feel threatened and unsafe by a man. Not one woman who isn’t afraid to walk alone at night.

The saddest part is that we live in a world where powerful men, which are all men by the way, are given a pass. Somehow the world roots for the rapist like he’s the wronged. He is the underdog. We are ruining his life. Yet, women are cast as the villains who are destroying their attacker’s life by bravely recounting their truth in detail.

We are less than. We don’t matter. This is the message that we are perpetuating to our little girls and women. So we stay silent out of shame and knowing that we will be humiliated more than our abusers.

Do you know how many rapes go unreported in the United States alone each year? It is estimated that only 310 out of every 1000 rapes will get reported. That’s 2 out of 3 rapes that don’t get reported. Of those 310 reported, only about 6 rapists will be incarcerated.

READ ALSO: We Are All Emily Doe

Christine Blasey Ford has risked everything to warn the world of the moral fiber of a man who is in contention to hold the highest moral position in the country. She has not only painfully recounted her story of an attempted rape which, in case you’re not aware, is just as scary as the real thing because the intention was the same. The feeling of being overpowered is the same. The feeling of helplessness and your own sexuality being used against you is the same. You are changed forever. The only thing that stood between Ford and a drunk Kavanaugh raping her was a one-piece bathing suit and a fluke interruption.

Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh, Anita Hill, Supreme Court Justice, rape culture

Ford walked away from that night, at just 15-years-old ( almost a child), feeling afraid, terrorized and never feeling safe again. She walked away grateful that he could not complete. She walked away feeling shame and guilt. She told no one because she felt like she bore some responsibility for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She chose to be there, therefore she feels like she contributed. Which is insane.

The thing is Kavanaugh walked away laughing. Stumbled away drunk with his buddy. No remorse. HE felt entitled. He felt like he didn’t do anything wrong. He might not even remember it because it was so insignificant to him. He continued on with his life, kept walking around alone at night unphased or changed by the experience because he wasn’t the victim. He wasn’t then and he isn’t now. He is a criminal who wasn’t reported; nonetheless a criminal. How can he be considered to uphold the law when he himself breaks it? How can he pass judgment when he can’t even recognize that he committed a crime?

You see, sadly, the Kavanaugh’s of the world are not few and far between and rape is not just between strangers, behind dumpsters and in alleyways. Just because we know our abusers doesn’t make it less abusive and doesn’t imply consent. Men are not entitled to women’s bodies. Little boys are not just being little boys. No means no and rape is rape.

The sad thing is that we put the onus on girls, from a very young age. We teach them to cover themselves; to hide their bodies.  We teach them to feel shame when they are the slightest bit sexual. We teach them that good girls don’t get raped. We teach them not to fight because no one will believe them. We teach them to judge and be judged by other girls.

I have a young teenager and in the past few months, I have heard several stories that have made me cringe because even in 7th grade, they were being groomed to be victims. The schools are telling our girls explicitly to hide their bodies because they are distractions to boys. A little girl was run out of our school because the bullying became so bad when she refused her attention to a boy. She was relentlessly called a slut and whore (at a Catholic school) and eventually she changed schools and her family moved away. Nothing happened to the boy.

Another girl was texting a boy all summer, when he tried to take it further and she refused, he told the whole school it was a joke. She was a joke. She thought he liked her. It was implied to her that if she did what he wanted, he would recant and she could be his “girlfriend.” Another girl, kissed a boy back this summer who was “dating” another girl, he told everyone. She became known to everyone as “the side piece” even to the girls.

Another 13-year-old girl, spent the entire summer fighting off the aggressive advances of her “boyfriend”. He spent the summer being the model citizen in front of her parents all the while trying to force himself inside their daughter. She was afraid they wouldn’t believe her. She eventually broke up with him but she no longer trusts boys.

These girls tell no one but one another; the keepers of their secrets. In some cases, they tell no one. I was harassed and assaulted on various levels throughout my life and I never filed a single report because maybe I was at a party? Maybe my dress was revealing? Maybe I had something to drink? Maybe I agreed to the date? Maybe I knew the guy? Maybe we were friends? Maybe we grew up together? Maybe I misunderstood? Maybe I was a prude? Maybe no one will believe me because he’s the star football player? Maybe he was cute and I flirted with him? Maybe I let him buy me a drink? Maybe I went into the room alone with him? Maybe I was walking alone in the dark at night? Maybe it was my fault? These are some of the things that go through our heads when we’re assaulted.

 

Or maybe he raped me? Violated me? Assaulted me? Pushed up against me? Tried to push inside of me? Maybe he grabbed and groped me? Maybe I was frozen in fear? Maybe I was sleeping and woke to him on top of me? Maybe I was just at work minding my own business? Maybe I trusted him and he locked the door and overpowered me? Maybe the only thing that saved me was a one-piece bathing suit or a knock at the door? A stranger walking by? Maybe I should have reported it because he’s probably doing the same thing to someone else’s daughter? Maybe I should have been brave for my someday daughters? These are the things that go through our mind when we are older and removed from the situation and find our voice and move past the fear of what people will think about us and move toward trying to stop it from happening again. There is power in numbers and sometimes we just need to know that we are not alone to know that we are not less than.

Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh, Anita Hill, Supreme Court Justice, rape culture, Hero for girlsI have shared my Me Too stories, there are more. More than I can count. Starting at a very young age. I believe Christine Blasey Ford because I know it happens. Her story sounds like a thousand other stories. That’s the true crime; it’s a recurring scenario that happens probably daily to women and girls around the world. We stop it by telling our stories. There is no shame or guilt that any victim should ever bear. Her life should not be destroyed for telling the truth while our President makes excuses and supports a rapist who he calls a victim; who he calls a good man. Good men don’t lock young girls in a room and grind into them while their friend cheers them on and watches. I don’t care if he was a teenager, he has no remorse and there’s no reason he would ever stop because he can get away with it. Appointing him to the Supreme court is sending the message to women everywhere that we, as a nation, don’t care about you. As if that’s not glaringly clear from the government always trying to have one hand in our uterus, now they will have a judge holding us down by the throat while they shove their hand into our uterus.

Walking alone at night in the dark without fear may be a dream never realized by myself but I will fight for it to be a right my daughters can have. We need to teach little boys to respect little girls and to know what consent is. They need to know that little girls have human value and intelligence and needs. We need to teach our little boys that little girls are equal to them and it’s not okay to just take what you want.  We need to teach them that there are not two sets of rules, there is only one and that is to respect one another.

My question is why do we live in a world where a victim is put on trial to prove her allegations and the world wants to give her assailant the benefit of the doubt? Why does it take a sacrificial lamb like Christine Blasey Ford to risk everything to inspire a nation to give women human decency and respect? I hope she inspires them to stop a monster.

What are your thoughts on Brett Kavanaugh being considered for Supreme Court justice? Do you believe Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations? If so, what do you think should happen?

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slut shaming, sexting, misogyny, shaved, Mean girls, raising girls, hair, shaving, waxing, self-esteem

The things we have to talk to our children and teens about these days is intense. I never remember my mom talking to me directly about misogyny, slut shaming, rape or even consent. She definitely didn’t talk to me about sexting because it didn’t exist. I remember my dad adamantly telling me to respect myself and my body and to stand up for myself. Maybe that was the 80’s version of the same thing I’m talking to my girls about. My dad has a black belt in karate and he taught us all how to throw a punch so maybe he was prepping me for the real world, in his own indirect way.

I grew up and knew that I wanted to have a very open dialogue with my children, especially when they hit those difficult, awkward teen years. By the way, all kids are awkward at this age so it’s not just your kid. They all need a little TLC during the teen years when they can sometimes be at their most unlovable. Just remember all of that angst is probably masking insecurity.

READ ALSO: Parent Guide to Teen Slang Words

Lately, I’ve had to have some very direct conversations that I never thought I’d have to have. The two I most thought I’d never have to have a direct conversation about are misogyny (it’s not you, it is definitely them) and slut-shaming (it’s never ok to be a part of that problem). Thanks to modern politics and the trickle-down effect, it has had on our community, it’s been necessary to explain to my daughters that it’s never ok for any man to treat you like you are a less valuable human being because of what’s between your legs.

Women are 100% equal to men, as we are all human beings. The only thing that elevates a person’s worth in the world is the way in which they conduct themselves and interact with others. We should be measured by our contributions, not our sex.

Thanks to a prevalent case of moral superiority that seems to permeate the circle they have found themselves surrounded by, I’ve had to jump to the rescue of strangers for making questionable moral choices. At this age, everyone is a critic and the higher the number of kids judging, the worse the criticism. I’ve always told my girls that they should live their own best lives and do good in the world but we don’t judge others because their life choices are between them, their conscience and their God.

READ ALSO: When Misogyny Speaks the World Listens

Do I want my daughters to grow up and make questionable moral choices? Of course not, but do I want them to live a full life? Yes. So maybe that means they make some choices that I wouldn’t make or they take chances that I would have discouraged them from making. Will we always see eye to eye? Definitely not. My girls have free will and I wouldn’t change that.

I’m not particularly excited about watching them fail or get hurt and I will always be there to pick up the pieces and kiss the booboos, no matter how old they get, but I can’t live their life for them. This is why we have to have the hard talks. This is why I’ve been talking to my girls about sex, misogyny, and respecting themselves and their bodies since they were toddlers. You have to start these conversations when they are young.

We’re at a particularly uneasy part of childhood; the part where they are not quite children and not quite adults. They are naïve, hearts wide open, full of hormone fluctuations and walking around looking like adults.

Ever wonder why our teens make the choices they do? Something, not so much shocking as unexpected, happened at my daughters’ school recently and I found myself shocked that in this day and age a kid would make this poor choice because I thought all of us were having the same conversations with our kids. I sometimes forget how new the Internet really is. Sexting happened.

READ ALSO: Who is Protecting Our Daughters

Maybe it’s because I work in social media but my kids have known since before they were in school that the Internet is forever. Anything can be screenshot. Not everyone is who they appear to be online. Don’t measure your worth by how many likes, follows and “friends” you have. It’s all a smoke show. It’s fake and not seated in reality. But above all, it is forever and like the angry ghost of a crazy ex, it can haunt you forever so make good choices kids. Not all parents have this conversation even once with their children.

My girls have both had smartphones with parental controls since they were 9-years-old. We openly monitor their activity. We check their phones. They are only allowed an Instagram and Pinterest account, which they share. The accounts are monitored. Everything they post is monitored. There is no Finsta. I check their DMs. I block people. We’ve not made it taboo but the girls know that any time we could be watching so all I ask is that they respect themselves and not say anything on the Internet that they’d be embarrassed for their grandfathers to see.

Back to this sexting situation. A girl in 8th grade sent explicit unsolicited photos of herself to a boy she liked. He told his mom but not before consulting his friend. He sent the picture to his friend and the friend sent it to a group chat. The mom went to the school to tell on the girl. The police are now involved because this is the distribution of pornography involving a minor. As if this is not horrible enough of a situation, the 8th-grade girls are shunning her and one girl pointed at her in the presence of my daughter and called her a “slut.”

READ ALSO: Good Girls and Double Standards

My daughter shut it down because I’ve taught my girls that we never slut shame. It’s not our business to judge anyone, especially another woman, because of a momentary lapse in judgment or even if someone outright chooses to be promiscuous. I feel bad for this girl. She has to live with this choice and I’m sure that’s not easy. I’m not sure how you recover from something like this in a Catholic school where everything they do is seeping with moral superiority and virtue.

For me, I don’t understand why she chose to do this but maybe her parents never explained that anything you put out into the world digitally lives on forever. Maybe she was just so desperate for the attention that her judgment was clouded. Or maybe she just didn’t fully realize the weight of her actions until after she hit send. Either way, she made a choice and now, unfortunately, it will follow her.

I’d also like to point out that we live in a world where girls feel like they need to share these kinds of photos to capture a guy’s attention. Girls are objectified from very young ages. She’s not the only one who participated in this situation, she may have sent the photos but the boy could have deleted them. He didn’t need to share them with anyone and the kid who shared those private photos with the entire group chat, in my opinion, is the most culpable.

READ ALSO:  Love Letter to My Daughter

My girls were shocked by the behavior of the girl who sent the texts, the boys who shared them and the girls who are now doing the shunning. My oldest is feeling disillusioned by her friends. But I explained to her that these are just growing pains and it’s also a good dose of reality and a lesson in consequences.

Like my dad, I am saying to my girls respect yourselves, do good, make good choices and stand up for what you believe. Misogyny and slut shaming may be something our society tolerates but it doesn’t have to be. It starts with individuals choosing to do better, choosing kindness and compassion over judgment and cruelty. As parents, we need to remember that even when our teens don’t want us, they still need us and we need to see past their eye-rolling and exasperation and step in if necessary. They’ll get over it.

How do you teach your girls to survive sexting, slut-shaming and misogyny?

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raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

If you read last week’s part 1 of tips for raising teenage girls and you’ve returned, welcome back. You are certainly among friends. Raising teen girls is difficult regardless of how the kid behaves. She can be the most complacent, compliant, sweet teenage girl of all teenage girls and you will still need to know these tips because there is a hormonal storm brewing inside that child and it is our responsibility as parents, to try and make the transition as easy as possible.

Not like we can have any kind of control of what they are thinking or how they are feeling or how any of it is going to land on them. Just remember puberty is like a bomb going off inside of a girl. She has no idea how to deal with all of these emotions, her body and the sexual way she might be feeling towards boys (or girls). It’s all okay. We don’t have to fix it. We just have to be there to listen and understand.

READ ALSO: Faster than a Speeding Bullet.

I know you are going to have days where you feel at your wits end. I’ve got a tween and a teenage girl, so this happens to me quite a bit these days. I’ve learned to try and not take it personally. The truth is it hurts. There is nothing wrong with taking a minute to react. Sometimes you just have to step back, take a breath and think about what you are about to do because blowing up at a teenage girl is about as helpful as carrying a paper umbrella in a monsoon.It’s actually ridiculous and someone might get hurt.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

Here are my Next 5 Tips for Raising Teenage Girls

The time for catching your teenager when they fall is over. It’s time to help them up when they stumble because they have to learn some lessons on their own.

Obviously, no one wants to watch their child get hurt. When they were learning to walk, I sheltered them; catching them before they fell. But as parents to teenage girls, you have to let go a little. This is when they learn to make good choices on their own. This is when we have to have a little faith in all the parenting we have done up until now. We have to teach them to live in this world without us, so we have to learn to trust them to make those good choices.

READ ALSO: Parent the Kids You Have

Alone time with your teenager.

Bella hit 13 and it suddenly became abundantly clear to me that our time together under the same roof, seeing her sweet sleepy face stumble into my kitchen every morning and kissing me good morning are coming quickly to an end. I have 5 years and it is not enough so make time to have alone time with your teenage girls. They may not seem like they need or want it but they do, more than ever. These alone times are when they feel free to ask you questions and talk freely. Do something they like. It doesn’t even matter what it is. It’s not about what you do or where you go, it’s about the time together. Always remember that.

Privacy for your teenager.

They are no longer children. My tween and teenage girls are starting to look a lot more like young ladies and a lot less like children but they still need parental guidance. At the same time, they need and deserve privacy to think and be alone with their thoughts. This is a delicate balance of letting go and holding on. Check-in. I know my girls need space sometimes, so do I. They are trying to figure out all of this too. Their bodies are changing. Their minds are focusing on different things. It’s like being reborn and your own skin doesn’t feel like it fits anymore and everyone you know is going through the same thing. You love it but you kind of hate it but mostly, you need space to figure it all out without someone over your shoulder at every moment. But remember to let them know you are still there, whenever they need you.

raising teenage girls, teen girls, tween girls, teenage girls, parenting teenage girls

Love your teenager for who they are, not who you want them to be. They are a person, they have free thought and you have to give them the independence to explore who they are becoming.

Just love them no matter what even when you don’t completely understand or you think they are overreacting to something you know will pass. You know because you’ve already lived through it. Remember, when you are a teenage girl and going through these things for the first time, you don’t have the benefit of experience or wisdom. It is huge. Also, the teen years are for figuring out what you like and believe independent of your parents and those around you, so give them that space and don’t discourage them because they aren’t just like you were or are. Just remember how much you love them and remind them that you will keep on loving them, no matter what. Love them unconditionally. No matter how big they get, they are still your child and will always need your love and support.

READ ALSO: What to do when You Catch a Child Lying

Listen to your teenager.

Teenage girls like to talk a lot. A lot of it is not relevant to your life. I can tell you my girls love to share with me all the business of everyone they know or will ever know and everything that is going on in their world. 95% of it is not that pertinent to my life but what is very important to my life is them and keeping those lines of communication open. Sometimes you have to listen to a lot of stories about Kayley’s sister’s best friend’s boyfriend to hear one nugget of who your own teenage daughter is crushing on and how she is feeling and what is going on with that. You need to be there for that and they need to know you are listening so put on your best “interested” face and listen because it’s worth it when they talk to you about the important things.

Hope you’ll come back next week when I’ll share the last of my 5 tips for raising teenage girls (so far).

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Wellie Wishers, American Girl, raising girls

Have you heard of the Wellie Wishers? This summer has been full of hectic crazy fun; packed with sunshine and the great outdoors. We’ve traveled, seen the beach and watched movies outside under the stars. But what do you do when it rains, right in the middle of summer? We made lemonade out of those lemons. The girls invited a few of their friends over for a movie play date. I work with American Girl so they sent us the newest American Girl Movie Lea to the Rescue. The girls were more than happy to watch it at our house together.

I popped some popcorn, made some actual lemonade and ordered pizzas. Meanwhile, the girls and their favorite American Girl dolls “watched” Lea to the Rescue. I’m not going to lie, it was the perfect rainy day activity for a group of girls in the 5 to 13-year-old age range. To be honest, I am more than a little past a teenager and I thoroughly enjoyed it too.

Speaking of rainy days and little girls, have you heard of American Girl’s latest line of dolls? They are called Wellie Wishers and they spread the message to today’s little girls everywhere that we should all consider what it means to “stand in another person’s wellies.”

The Wellie Wishers, a line of five fun-loving characters, Willa, Kendall, Ashlyn, Emerson, and Camille are out to make the world a kinder and friendlier place.

It’s the golden rule in full effect. Treat others how you would like to be treated (or for you more modern day moms) to have a good friend you’ve got to be a good friend. Either way you slice it, the message is don’t judge others. Always consider what it might be like to stand in their wellies.

American Girl created Wellie Wishers to help younger girls, ages 5-7, discover the social and emotional skills they need to become empathetic, compassionate, and thoughtfully motivated individuals. Timeless life lessons on sharing, cooperation, respecting feelings, and making things right are passed along to girls through each Wellie Wishers character, who navigates the ins and outs of friendship through play, songs, and imagination.

The Wellie Wishers celebrate an amazing time in a little girl’s life when she’s learning about herself through the world around her. Through their stories, the Wellie Wishers help our daughters make good choices today defining the person she’ll become tomorrow.

The beautiful, whimsically illustrated early chapter books about the Wellie Wishers’ fun and fanciful outdoor adventures are written with humor and heart by American Girl author Valerie Tripp. The stories will delight girls and their mothers as they celebrate the promise and potential of young readers and gently model the life skills that help build strength of character and confidence.

The Wellie Wishers’ adventures and lessons further unfold in American Girl’s first-ever animated series, airing in fall 2016. Each 11-minute episode follows the fun-filled exploits of the five smart and lively six-year-olds, who have limitless imaginations and the same big wish: to be a good friend. When the Wellie Wishers step into their colorful rain boots, they are ready for anything in their aunt’s whimsical backyard garden. Young viewers are entertained through stories, humor, and catchy songs as the Wellie Wishers work, dream, and play together—feeding birds, making mud pies, creating art, and putting on shows—all while imparting valuable lessons in friendship.

To further engage girls and bring the characters to life, American Girl is debuting a free Wellie Wishers app, where players can explore the interactive garden world through three mini games—Carrot Care, Mud Pie Maker, and Garden Harmony. Little girls will delight in the sweet, silly, and unexpected surprises that get unlocked the more they play. The free app is available through play.americangirl.com.

Rounding out the play experience is a line of adorable 14½-inch dolls (retail $60) and garden-themed accessories, including a magical theater stage and a premium wooden playhouse with over 30 pieces. Young girls can even dress like their favorite character with a selection of dress-like-your-doll clothing, like enchanted garden PJs or a pair of peek-a-boo wellies.

Wellie Wishers, American Girl, raising girls

My girls love their Wellie Wishers and thanks to the generosity of American Girl, we would like to give away a doll to one lucky reader. Enter below! Mandatory entries include subscribing to The TRUTH newsletter, following The TRUTH about Motherhood on Facebook and leaving a comment below!

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rape culture, girl mom, school uniforms, body image, self esteem

In light of the Matt Lauer (Russel Simmons, Louis C.K., Al Franken, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and the seemingly endless list) allegations, I’m truly astounded by people’s reactions, especially of shock. I was not shocked. Not because any of these men seem outwardly particularly creepy but because, as a woman, I live the reality.

 

It has nothing to do with what a woman wears or how she looks. It has nothing do with her character or lack thereof. It has nothing do with any of that. It doesn’t even have to do with the man being a scummy sort, a delinquent or particularly chauvinistic or even just the little bit rapey. It has everything to do with the way we condition our children to move through the world from the time they are babies.

 

We teach little girls to be good, behave and learn to protect themselves. Little girls are taught to dole out kisses to any relative, however strange or scary, from the beginning. We use adjectives like pretty, cute and beautiful to praise our daughters. We teach them to sit right, act right and be pleasant and congenial.

 

Nobody seems to like a strong willed little girl. They label her bossy, stubborn and difficult and it is all said with a negative connotation that seethes with everything that you don’t want to be.

 

But our little boys on the other hand, we call them strong, stubborn and smart and all of those labels are said as praise. For some reason, we teach our boys that it is good to be these things when you are a boy but inconvenient when you are a girl.

 

This isn’t just parents and it’s not even willful; it’s a bad habit and we all have it. I am the feminist mom of two girls and I have to remember to change up my adjectives because I want them to know they are more than just what lies between their legs. I value everything between their ears, as well.

 

When little girls misbehave, we scold them. We tell them that is not very lady like. We ask them to tone down the natural fierceness that is them. It is not all at once. It starts on the day they are born and by the time they go to college, they have been broken. But, when boys misbehave we dismiss their bad behavior with a simple, “boys will be boys.” We hold our girls to a higher standard and give our boys more credit for doing much less. This is the society we live in. This is our reality and it has been forever.

 

I thought things had changed. We almost had a female president. But, I see now that it’s just wishful thinking. The reality is that we live in a misogynistic world and those who are not, are the minority…not the moral majority that we would like to believe.

 

For example, earlier this year at school, the seventh grade girls were sent home a special note about their uniforms. The boys did not receive this note.

 

The note was to remind us that the girls’ shirts needed to be baggy, not be worn fitted. Pants should also be baggy, not fitted. There is to be no nail polish or make up. No hair color other than their natural color. No jewelry. No adornments.

 

I can go on record and say that I hated the dress code before this note because I feel it gives the girls no room to show their personality and I tried to fight it but found that female board members are to be seen and not heard. But when I got the note, “the reminder”, I was livid because, you see, the point was not to remind all the children to adhere to the dress code it was a subtle way to remind the girls to hide their bodies.

 

Maybe you think I am reading too much into it; making fire where this no smoke. Nope. A girl wore a dress on picture day. A tween, going through puberty, developing normally and one of the older female teachers forced her to lean forward in an effort to conduct some ridiculous “taste test” to see the the dress’ neckline was too revealing when she bent over. The teacher then pulled it back and pinned it because it was “too distracting to the boys.” Take that shit in for a moment.

 

On warm dress down days, the children are allowed to wear shorts. The length of the boys’ shorts is not measured or considered. The length of the girls’ short is another story. My daughter has really long legs. I buy her modest shorts but, as anyone with long legs can attest, when your legs are long everything looks shorter. My daughter has not made it passed the office one time since starting middle school because even when the shorts are to her fingertips, that is still the center of her thigh and “too distracting”. The message is that she is being punished for being distracting. She is being punished for becoming a woman.

The worst part is that a lot of the times, its other women who are propagating this bullshit. Don’t wear that. That’s too short. That’s too plunging. That’s too revealing. It’s all done so boys don’t look and men don’t notice. Why don’t we just teach the boys and men of the world to control themselves? Why is it the responsibility of the girls?

 

You see, my response was what every mother and father of a daughter should be…outrage. Don’t tell my daughter to hide herself away, to slump her shoulders, hide her natural curves and to be ashamed that she is becoming a woman. There is nothing shameful about being a woman. We are the bringers of life. We are a force to be reckoned with.

 

Tell your sons to control their urges. Behave respectfully. It is not my daughter’s, nor any other daughters, responsibility to control the environment so that your son doesn’t get an erection. Tell him to learn to deal with his own body. Tell little boys that little girls are just like them, human.

 

I buy my daughters’ clothes to fit their female bodies. Clothes that fit appropriately. I refuse to buy them clothes that are too big and ill fitting. I refuse to be part of this problem that plagues our girls and our women. We objectify women and you can choose to embrace your body and be labeled a whore or hide it away and be labeled a prude.

 

If you are thinking to yourself, “Thank God I am a grown woman and don’t have to worry about that any longer!” Are you being honest with yourself. As women, we are always objectified. Maybe there’s no sister sending you home for your shorts being too distracting or a crazy teacher pinning your dress closed at the neckline but make no mistake, you are being seen and not heard.

 

These men in the news sexually harassing co-workers, friends, and women at large they are a symptom of the problem. Their bad behavior has been tolerated for so long that they think we are the crazy ones, the witch hunters, the wolf criers who are making mountains out of molehills. Even now, in light of all the allegations, society is crying out on behalf of the men. Where is their due process? How can we ruin their lives and careers over such a small indiscretion? Victims have to prove how victimized they were, as if one degree is valid than the other. Women are even coming to the defense of men over the victims because they think they “know a guy” better than the victim who experienced the assault.

 

I’m not saying every guy that appears to be normal is running around assaulting and harassing women but I can say with confidence that every man who has ever harassed or sexually assaulted a woman is not running around acting particularly like a rapist; so obviously most of them are walking around looking like normal, “good guys” until they aren’t.

 

I guess my point to this piece is that I don’t feel sorry for the allegations. I believe every single one of them until they are proven otherwise because I’ve lived quite a few years and I know these things happen on a regular basis first hand.

 

It’s not a witch hunt and I don’t feel sorry for men who are all “Woe’s me, I guess I can’t speak to women anymore because I’ll get accused of harassment.” In fact, to tell you the truth, I think most of us women would prefer it if most of you would keep your comments, hisses and mouthed dirty motions to yourself. We don’t welcome them and they make us feel threatened.

 

Women are finally feeling empowered enough to tell their truths; to shine a light on the horrendous treatment that women have been subject to for all their lives. How it effects your male ego is not our concern. We’re not trying to accuse innocent men of wrong doings; we are simply trying to out our assailants. If you’re not one of them, you have nothing to worry about.

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