Raising girls is different than raising boys. Learn how one loving mama is trying to figure out what’s best for both her kids at integral ages and life stages—while she continues to teach good values and kindness. In this personal reflection, Kim Snider shows us how being brave, and challenging our parenting skills, poses some really important questions for all of us.
“Raising Girls Versus Raising Boys”
By Kim Snider
As a mom, with many “mom friends”, I often find myself in conversation about raising girls and raising boys. Typically the discussion banters around what we should teach girls and what we need to teach boys—and the differences.
Lately, I have been thinking about this more and more, especially as my daughter turns 13 and is excited to see high school in her grasp. My daughter and son are continually learning lessons in their childhood, but I often wonder if those messages will resonate with them as young adults.
I ponder these questions every day:
Will they be safe?
Will they be able to confront challenging situations or people?
Have I done a good job of instilling values to…
- Inspire them to be confident?
- Encourage them to enter bravely into the adult world?
- Show up as their best self?
My daughter is 13 years old, and I am at a time where I constantly wonder if I have taught her “everything” she needs to know to grow up. For instance, here are some rules I teach her…
Don’t talk to strangers
Don’t talk to strangers is a typical rule we teach our kids growing up. However, I believe in my heart that she shouldn’t be afraid to say hello, smile, and greet people. We are not expecting her to become “best friends” with a stranger, but I think we need to be able to interact with others—as well as be confident enough to make eye contact, and respond to a friendly “hello”.
I encourage my daughter (well, both kids) to speak up for themselves, and for the “underdog”. Perhaps, the kid who is being bullied. I encourage them to offer help, be kind, and if necessary, talk to an adult. Never to avoid a situation, and to meet it straight on! I encourage bravery and confidence. I also think speaking up, for yourself and for others, helps us grow in confidence; and therefore truly understand that your voice matters. I say to her, “Regardless of your age, even though you are not an adult, your words are present and people will hear you. You always have something to contribute.”
And, within the same conversation, while I encourage her to speak up—equally, I will reiterate that there is a time to listen: What are people really saying? What do they mean? What is their intended message?
It all comes down to respect. Respect for yourself, as well as respect for others. Regardless of your age or gender, you deserve respect and we show respect to others.
On the other hand, my son is 10, and I wonder whether my messages are the same or different for him(?) I guess I will always ponder what’s the best way to raise a boy and raise a girl. So, for now, here’s what I teach him…
Strangers can be dangerous. We need to be aware of anyone who we don’t know, who may be knocking on our front door, meeting us in the park, etc. But there is more… I teach him that not all strangers are dangerous. This can be a bit confusing. Remember, while it is an unknown person, we should not be scared, or think all adults unknown to us are dangerous or threatening. This is where I say, “Be aware, and also be confident to say hello.”
The pendulum has not swung completely the opposite way here. I encourage my kids to make friends with new people and be friendly. But careful at all times. Perhaps strangers knocking on the door, or lingering in the park, are also friendly. It’s hard to tell. I just want them to be aware, be confident, and be able to use their words.
And, to walk away or stay alert as an adult.
Use your words
Alway use your words… for good. Choose your words wisely, kindly. Consider your words, your tone, and your intended message. I believe words are more powerful than actions–so just throwing things, fighting, or screaming is not useful. “Use your words to ask questions, to help someone, to say ‘No’, or to ask for help.”
At the end of the day, when I reflect on my lessons in life and the “rules of life” I try to implant in my daughter and son, it all boils down to one word for us: RESPECT.
I believe respect goes in every direction, child to adult and likewise. Adults owe their children respect; boys should respect girls; and likewise, girls must respect boys. In addition, strangers should respect each other in our communities, and friends, etc.
I am raising a girl and a boy.
I want them both to be confident, use their voice, be aware, listen… and ultimately, to be guided by respect,
*GOAL = Respect for themselves and other people.
About the Author: Kim Snider is a wife and mom to a teenage girl and a young boy. She is also an entrepreneur whose natural optimism inspires people around her. Kim is a “People and Culture” advocate, inspired by people’s courage, personal development, and great leaders. She is often found in conversation, listening to people about their stories, and their personal and professional successes in life and business. Visit her at PeopleBrain.ca