Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#036 Raising Daughters

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. — Anna Quindlen
My wife and I talk a lot about how we want to raise our kids.  Sometimes we disagree, but for the most part, we usually have very similar values and want our children to have the choice to share those values.  Obviously, we are biased about the things we believe in because of our experiences and education, but we try hard to plant seeds of wisdom instead of demanding protocol of action.
With that said, we have spent a lot of these conversations of late talking about how we want our daughter to feel about herself.  We have been very conscientious about when and how often we compliment how pretty she is.  [Neither of us is perfect in this wife much better than me.]  I am her daddy, so I think she is beautiful, but she also hears it a lot from our friends and family members and even total strangers when we are out and about. 
Our thought process is that we don't want her to value herself based on her appearance.  We want her to be proud of who she sees in the mirror, but we don't want others opinion of her appearance to dictate how she feels about herself.  At 4 years old, she is extremely impressionable, but she is also very much her own person with her own sense of style, fashion, and beauty.  It is scary and amazing all at the same time to watch her grow into this person who can now feed herself, dress herself, and perform her own make-up tutorials in the bathtub:)  We will obviously continue to set boundaries and talk about self-respect, self-worth, and valuing her spirit, mind, and soul over her outer beauty.
The idea of raising daughters has been top-of-mind for me as of late for a number of reasons.  First of all, I just came off a 3-year stint as a Women's College Basketball Coach.  I remain close with most of my players from those years, so I am always curious to how they are doing while monitoring their well-being (like a surrogate father) from a distance.  I also continue to work with a group of high school girls at a local school near where we live.  They are a great group of young women, and I am always curious to where their respective gaps are between their personal insecurities and self-worth.  In each of these cases, I am always thinking about how to help my daughter traverse the waters of growing up and being a girl.  I know.  I am way out of my depth here, but my wife is a very solid compass for me when it comes to the development of our daughter and the young women I have the honor of working with.
With that said, today's blog really happened because of a TED presentation I stumbled upon on YouTube last week.  Here's the preface of the talk:
Cameron Russell admits she won “a genetic lottery”: she's tall, pretty and an underwear model. But don't judge her by her looks. In this fearless talk, she takes a wry look at the industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16-years-old. (Filmed at TEDxMidAtlantic.)
I have been watching a lot of these TED talks as of late, and I find them enlightening on a very broad spectrum including sports, science, politics, and yes, modeling.  This particular presentation was one I was most glad I watched because it helped define my philosophies on how I want to raise my daughter, as well as opening my eyes to the obstacles my wife and I are sure to face as she gets older.  Here's the link to Miss Russell's speech:
After watching the talk, I tweeted this out to my followers.  I hope you feel the same after watching it.
Every young woman should watch! Every man who cares for a young woman should as well!
Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary