My husband and I had two little boys in 16 months. After a three year break, we had two girls, just two years apart. I grew up with brothers. My husband has 6 younger brothers. Somehow I fully expected we would have a family of boys.
Imagine our surprise and delight when our third child was a little girl. The color pink marched boldly into our house and we loved it! Soon we had dolls and dishes, and other girly toys, too. It didn’t take long to discover that this little personality was a different flavor than her two older brothers had. And the fun began.
Now I love having both genders in my house. I think my boys have been so good for my girls and vice versa. But there is a different aspect to raising girls than raising boys and I would be lying if I said it’s all the same.
There are however, some labels that we tend to give girls from a very young age that can totally shape the way we parent and treat our daughters. And it’s not always healthy.
Of course, the first one that comes to everyone’s mind is Girls are dramatic. And while that is not an untrue statement, I would venture to say that I’ve seen some very dramatic boys in my life as well. People tend to play up the drama in little girls and often unknowingly, feed it until it can become a monster.
Growing up, I was a very dramatic person, and I’m obviously not grown up yet, because I can still be a very dramatic person. :/
I am convinced that God gives parents the children they need in order to do the work He wants to do in the parent’s hearts. My daughter was very young when I discovered that in the middle of a dramatic situation, I could totally escalate the problem based on my knee-jerk reaction to it. If she was ‘losing it’, and I started to ‘lose it’ too, we had a full blown crisis in a matter of seconds.
With some encouragement from my husband, I started trying to drop my voice, and down play the drama when it hit for my little girl and it made a huge difference in her reaction. She will always be a more expressive and vocal person and I’m not trying to change that. I’m trying to give her the tools to handle a stressful situation without controlling everyone around her in the process.
The second label I think of is Girls are emotional. While that is also a true statement, girls can be taught to control their emotions so as not to dominate situations because of their emotions. We all have emotions, and they are expressed in different ways. It can be as tears, anger, empathizing with people, even deep joy and happiness. Our emotions are a beautiful part of who we are individually. But again, left uncontrolled, cute little girls can become little monsters that are capable of controlling an entire family. And if left unchecked, the little girls can grow up and take the emotions to a whole new level as an adult.
I remember sending my daughters to their room to ‘talk to Jesus’ when they were having a full blown emotional break down. It was amazing how some alone time, and then me going up to talk to them later, could bring clarity to the situation and produce terrific results. Even as a mom, if the situation gets tense, if I can sneak away for a bit, I can calm down, get things into perspective, and be able to handle the situation much better when I return.
Girls are mean. I have seen some very mean girls. I’ve been a very mean girl. I’m not proud of that at all. But girls don’t have to wear that label.
Kindness needs to be taught, encouraged, modeled and required. Little girls need to apologize when they are unkind. Not a quick “I’m sorry” to fix the situation, but a genuine apology when the time is right. Teach little girls that words have an incredible power, good or bad. Actions speak louder than words. Everyone has feelings and everyone needs friends.
I’m not about a list of rules to follow to parent well. However, we as parents have a huge responsibility to prepare our children for the real world. We’re not going to get it right all the time. We’re going to need to apologize to our kids over and over again. We’re going to need to pray like crazy for wisdom to know how to best handle each unique personality that God has placed in our care.
Parenting is likely the most difficult thing you and I will ever do. Building relationships with our kids requires sacrifice, time, and patience. Our children have the potential to greatly impact and influence the world. What an exciting opportunity we have! Let’s make the most of it.
Meet Our Guest Writer:
Hi! My name is Wanda Stutzman and I have lived in the Kalona, Iowa area my whole life. I’m a country girl who loves summer, my garden, dates with my husband, and making memories with our kids. My husband and I are youth pastors at Cornerstone Community Church in Kalona. I am passionate about young people discovering their identity in Jesus. I love meaningful conversations over a caramel latte. I occasionally blog at www.theordinaryhomemaker.blogspot.com