Raising a strong girl By Francesca Leigh
Today Luna had her two year review. There was lots to take from it, but the part I felt most proud of is the fact she told me that I was doing well to raise a strong minded girl. It is so important to me that Luna knows her own mind, isn't racked with self doubt and has the confidence to stand by her convictions. While all of these are characteristics I try and foster in her, it also makes her very hard work at times! 'No' is a frequent word in her, limited, vocabulary and some day it's the only one used. Without other words to back up her reason, it ends up just like a game of 20 questions I always seem to lose.
Having strong women in my life is so important to me, as not only do these wonderful women inspire and support me, but they will become Luna's role models and her window into womanhood. Strength is a trait so often used in a positive way when discussing men, but somehow becomes less attractive or desirable in females. This has to change. Our children are the new generation coming up behind us and leading the way for the future. Raising strong children regardless of gender is so important. I would hate for Luna to feel as unsure and lacking in confidence as I often feel. At the moment she is too young to fully read this from me, and I do my best to try and project a confident attitude. Deep down that is far from how I feel.
During our review I discussed with the health visitor that while Luna reaching the traditional milestones is important, to me raising her to be a kind and nice human being is equally so. I try to show her how we can help others and be supportive to those around us. On our trips to the local Co-op I get Luna to pick up bits that we can donate to the food bank. We go to a community cafe and leave money for someone to have lunch who can't afford it. I hope these are ideals that she holds with her as she grows older and are ones she wants to continue.
As a single mama, I am aware too that I am Luna's primary caregiver and the one she will look to show her strength, resilience and love. I encourage her to explore and be free outdoors, even if most of the time it makes me feel so incredibly anxious. At no point do I want my own anxieties and sensing every danger possible, to make Luna afraid or fearful of trying new things. I spend a lot of time projecting a confidence in myself that isn't truly there. It is one that I hope will grow though. To raise a strong girl, especially alone, I need to find my inner strength too.
However her influences do not just come from me and the women around us; I am very aware of the society in which she is growing up in and the pressures on young girls. Working in a college I see the stress, anxiety and consuming nature of this 'ideal'. To look a certain way, dress in 'right' way, be a certain size, shape, style. I don't think there is anyway to eliminate all of these issues, but hopefully she will be sure enough in who she is to only make decisions because she feels they are right, not because of social pressure. By raising her to accept people however they present themselves and to celebrate each persons individuality, I hope she won't feel the overwhelming pressure to conform to societies standards, but her own. My aim for Luna in life is that she walks into a room with her head held high because she likes who she is, she knows her own mind and is kind and loving of others. To listen as well as guide. To bring the strengths out in others. Because I know without her even knowing, becoming her mama has bought out a strength in me I never knew I could possess.
I have been reading The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf and it is fantastic. Does anyone else have any other positive female books I can read, or children books for Luna? We are big fans of Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ava Twist, Scientist. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated to expand our library! And grew Luna into a tiny strong feminist.