Pink: Progressive Parents Struggle Shows Worth in Teens
02 Nov 2011 2 Comments
I was just visiting a few other Dad blogs and I found Oren Miller’s like-minded post on his site A Father and a Blogger, Pink: The Futile Struggles of Progressive Parents. I was planning on posting a Nature vs Nurture post and probably still will write that post in the near future. But Oren’s view on the subject reflects my views on the subject quite well.
When my first child Alexis was born I was in my early 30’s. At that time, I had more than a handful of years experience working with young people. In the years just before she was born I was a high school teacher. Before that, I worked for an elementary school in an after- school program with K-6 kids. During my college years, I took several psychology courses, including child development, educational, and adolescent psychology …And before that, I hung out with my Uncle a lot while he was working on his masters and doctorate degrees in psychology. I felt all of this knowledge and experience prepared me for fatherhood. And it did help…some.
On the Nature vs. Nurture continuum, I leaned pretty heavily on the Nurture side when Alexis was born. As was the case for Oren, I too did not want society forcing my daughter to believe she was in any way, a member of the weaker sex. I made it a point to be rough and tumble with her. As she got older, I would include her when I was fixing things as did my wife. I would help with pretend tea parties, play catch, play dress up, etc. I tried to make sure she knew she was valued for her thoughts and actions, and not on her looks. Her looks….yea, about that… I realize I will sound biased here, but…my daughter was and is beautiful. That is a good thing, but her looks are low on the priority list of things that are important about her, no matter what everybody was saying to her. Also, she was so very feminine. Her personality was feminine, she was drawn to feminine stuff.
Then, came the Barbies. It was my sister-in-law who started it. I was dead set against my daughter having Barbie dolls. But one Christmas, they showed up. My wife did not fight it at all. Plus, my daughter LOVED them. I figured this was the beginning of the end. Other girlie stuff showed up…pink stuff, flowery stuff, pretty pretty princess stuff. And Alexis just continued to bloom into a beautiful young lady. But my wife and I stayed the course on letting her know that her looks were secondary to her academic skills, her personality, and her ability to be a good person and good friend. We read books and my wife gave her books to read that had good messages for girls, messages about confidence, strength of character, compassion and empathy for other, etc.
Alexis is now in high school. And I think all that effort has paid off. She knows she is pretty as she gets a lot of attention from the boys. But she knows how to navigate around them or engage them in a positive way…or negative way when warranted. She stays out of all of the popular girl politics in her social circles and has chosen to keep a handful of close friends, including a few boys. She works hard in class and is good at both taking the lead and following in group activities.
Did any of what my wife and I did for Alexis keep her on the path she is on? Well, she is only 15 years old and there is still a lot of growing up to do. But now that she is out of her early childhood years and deep into adolescence, I believe we did.
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