Friday, July 22, 2011

Like Mother, Like Daughter... or not.

I really like listening to audiobooks. I've had an account at for a while and just recently started downloading books about parenting because I realized there was no way I was going to have the time to read them any time soon. But I have a 30-45 minutes commute each way every day. That gives me plenty of time to listen and absorb as much information as possible.

Right now I'm listening to one of the best books I've ever read/heard. It's called, The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence by Rachel Simmons.

I suspected it was going to be good, but it has completely blown me away! The basic premise is that so many of the things our society admires about "good girls" (such as passivity, putting other before herself at all costs, doesn't rock the boat, doesn't speak her mind) these things do not serve her well as she grows up. In fact they often cripple her as she moves into the workforce and adult interpersonal relationships.

As I listened to her describe the "good girl" I realized that I come from a long line of "good girls". We play the martyr then sulk because no one acknowledged, we get mad at those closest to us because they couldn't read our minds and anticipate our needs, needs we don't voice because we feel they aren't as important as others, and the list goes on and on! As she talked about the difficulties these traits present in adulthood I knew what she was going to say before she said it because I live it! At that moment, I came to a difficult conclusion.

I do not want Turtle to grow up to be like me.

I hope she never stands in a crowd and feels overcome with anxiety because she truly believes she doesn't deserve to take up space in this world and because she can't make herself small enough to get out of every one's way.  I hope she never shakes with anger because she feels she can't speak up when she feels disrespected.  I hope she never shies away from a challenge because she's terrified of failure.  I hope she never shies away from conflict because her self worth somehow rides on her need to be perfect.  I hope she never stays in a dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship because she's allowed that person to make her feel inferior. While we're at it, I hope she never gets into a dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship because she doesn't feel that she deserves anything better!

The thing I love the most about this book, though, is that the author presents the information in a freeing and empowering way. (Which is much better than the last book I tried to listen to which was just alarmist, depressing, and infuriating!) She makes you feel like it doesn't have to be like this and gives you tools to use to help your daughter become a "real girl" instead of a "good girl".  I am actively working on retraining the "good girl"/"good mom" in myself and releasing the "real girl". Hopefully that'll make it easier for Turtle to become the real, true, authentic girl she is meant to be. Because I know that no matter what I say, if I act as if I don't deserve to take up space in this world or that my needs aren't as important as others... that is what she will ultimately learn.

It's not going to be easy, but between Grandma, Mama, and Turtle, I think we can figure it out.


Claudia said...

I just stumbled upon your blog (from Maiden Metallurgist's blog) and didn't want to read and run. I just ordered this book based on your description of it. It resonates *so* strongly with me! Also wanted to say your blog is so honest and relatable. From another new Mom trying to get used to this new adventure that's not all sunshine and smiles 100% of the time, thank you!

bonniebelle said...

Thank you so much for this comment! I can't tell you how much it means to me!!