**Credit to a thread by @IamKiraJ (Kira J) on Twitter for inspiring this post. Check her full post out on FB or Twitter. Please note that her post/thread is specifically crafted with the language of “black women” vice “women” as a whole; however, I found the points interesting on a full-scale context.
Historically, I know I have often heard of “a mother’s love” in a deep sense of reverence. A limitless spring of love, support and care. On the flip side, I also hear quite often about “daddy issues”, absentee fathers and the impacts they have on the formation of our bonds, as children and adults.
This post is not about “shaming” or “cancelling” any person, or woman, but it is about bringing up and discussing the things that make ME sad. Things I have either experienced or observed that directly impacted how I felt, or how I felt on behalf of another.
- Perhaps resentment between mother and daughter goes back to the root of “love from the father” that was absent between the mother and the grandfather? I found this interesting because I can definitely attest to the fact that many times after people have children, they are absolutely gobsmacked by the (perceived or actual) “change” in their parents toward the grandchild, in comparison to how they were with them. I do believe this goes for both mothers and father, but I’m here to discuss the maternal side of things only.
I am mid-30s and I know that the generation that my parents are a part of is very different, therefore their behaviors were a bit more reserved during my childhood and adolescence. I have witnessed many times over where a grandfather (friends, family, coworkers, etc) will be so much more affectionate and open toward their grandchildren, and granddaughters in particular. I am not a parent, but I can see and understand why/how that could feel so confusing and disheartening to the adult child. Why was he not able to give that love and affection so openly and freely to her when she was young?
- Young women are often taught to be “independent” and “grown” so they in turn can care for the rest of the family – well before it is necessary for them to. I have witnessed in many homes the drastic difference between the expectations placed upon a girl in contrast to a boy. Somehow “typical gender roles” don’t just come in pink and blue clothing, but also the need to enlist girls into “domestic duties” that are not equal to those expected by a boy. Just because women CAN be nurturing and perhaps the primary executor of household cleaning, laundry, etc, does not mean girls should be groomed into such roles, and certainly not for the benefit of the parents. I understand that many mothers are doing the best they can, and many times they DO honestly need a helping hand; however, I don’t believe that help always needs to come in the form of a mini-housekeeper. It’s great for children to take responsibility for their toys/possessions, etc and to learn how to be self sufficient, but I feel that girls tend to get prodded toward “acting more mature” far sooner, and typically at the behest of their maternal figures in their lives.
- Let these girls be children. Mothers, be as gentle with your daughters as you are with your sons. I have no doubt that it can be monumentally difficult to look at a child and see yourself staring back; perhaps staring back in defiance, anger or any other emotion that would elicit a response outside of loving kindness. Those closest to us are often the best (and worst) mirrors for our own shortcomings, flaws and less desirable character traits. Just because your daughter looks up at you with the same intensity painted on a miniature face that matches yours, still does not make her a full grown adult and she should not be reprimanded or treated as such. Don’t let a physical resemblance cause an emotional (or physical) reaction that stems from a place of deep-rooted dislike of self.
- Let “girls be girls” as much as “boys will be boys”. There are many, many instances in which “boys will be boys” gets to be a blanket cover all statement for transgressions, big and small; however, girls don’t seem to get that same grace. If a child acts out, and happens to be a girl, she’s seen as unruly or bad tempered. If a little girl has a meltdown and full-on cries in hysterics, she’s seen as being over-reactive and “dramatic”. These girls deserve to feel, and express their emotions without judgement, or harsh reactions at most every turn. Behavior is a form of communication, especially in children, so look at HOW they are acting and try to understand the why. Girls are taught at a very young age, through societal structures, media, and family, to cover their feelings and truths because it could make someone else upset or uncomfortable. Mothers model this through how they interact with their partners, and then in turn wonder why their little girl acts aggressively or “poorly” but won’t (or can’t) articulate why. It can be quite easy to fall into “that’s just how she is” when in truth, she’s communicating insecurity, anxiety, a desire to be loved/comforted, or just plain confusion.
This is not all encompassing, but it’s a good starting point for dialogue and recognition in ourselves and those around us. Where have we (because I identify as a Cis-Female) fallen short in modeling healthy relationships, with ourselves and others, to our little girls? When we stop to think about the demands we place upon the tiny humans in our lives, do we recognize the disparity between how we treat/favor or otherwise perhaps play favorites to a little boy over a little girl, simply because she reminds us of ourselves?