Lionize the nice girl

We all want our daughters to be nice, right? Polite and agreeable. We want our teenagers to tow the line, because it makes our lives a whole lot more pleasant. We want them to think of others and not be the one causing upsets. We want them to dress appropriately – pull that skirt down a little and less of the cleavage. Basically, as parents we want them to be accepting and tolerant and that way we have a happy home.

The trouble is, that being nice is curtailing their potential and limiting their superpowers and let’s face it, if Wonder Woman is deemed appropriate as the UN’s Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, then they are all going to need to don their capes and, as Rachel Simmons talks about in her book: ‘The Curse of the Good Girl’, ‘lionize the nice girl’.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaasss More:

So here’s my problem as their mum. A lion is a force to be reckoned with. I want to empower my daughters, but I don’t want them to be wild and uncontrollable. I want them to have an opinion, but I also want to teach them to listen. I want them to stand their ground, but I want them to be able to accept that they aren’t always right – even if they are a lion. A lion is king of the jungle, but I am still queen of this house.

Being a nice girl is a high standard to live up to and when they fail to keep it up they can become hampered by self-criticism. Add to this the pressures of having to look a certain way in order to achieve those all important ‘likes’ and you suddenly realise why so many girls suffer from depression and anxiety.

I had naively thought that by the time my girls were adults, the genders would be pretty much equal. I am still shocked that they aren’t. What’s going on? Why can’t we have equal pay? Why are we still subject to high levels of gender-based violence and sexual abuse? Why is there still inequality in sport? Why is there still discrimination and harassment in the work place? Why aren’t women’s voices being heard?

That's how you raise empowered women.:

I want my daughters to be heard. Right now, I just really want them to have an opinion. I want to cut though their apathy on issues that affect them and their future. So I will keep asking their opinions, even if, for now, I get little back. They have time on their side, but I must lay the groundwork. I must put in the hard graft and get it right, now.

I must focus on how they are doing at school and not on their appearance. I must encourage them to try new things and make them aware of strong female role models. I need to tell my daughters that they don’t need to be liked by everyone, but that the right types of friendship are important. I’m not going to make decisions for them and they must take responsibility for their actions. I will help them to solve problems, but ultimately they must solve them themselves.

Does all this turn my girls into lions? I still want them to be what they are: girls.

Strong and sassy girls, who know how to challenge authority in a way that produces results. I want them to have the confidence to make waves.

I have my own mantras as a mum. They help. I think that these mantras, mentioned by clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg, are fantastic for our daughters and of course for sons too:

  • Make a decision from a place of power, not pressure
  • In most situations you aren’t the subject of scrutiny, so be less self-conscious
  • Kindness is the best form of communication
  • Remember who you are

I will embrace who you are and I will prepare you as best I can for the challenges ahead.

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28 thoughts on “Lionize the nice girl”

    1. I’m only fairly recently learning now. I’m far more aware of so many things – hopefully just in time to help my daughters!

  1. Such a powerful post, thank you..vital words too from Barbara Greenberg- for us all, whatever our age. Thank you as ever for writing so beautifully, with great passion and in such a concise way, you really are one of my favourite bloggers. I hope you know how brilliant you are x

  2. I love those mantras. Raising girls to be strong and sassy while still having all the positive qualities of being a “nice girl” – being kind, being respectful of others whilst being true to themselves and not afraid of standing up for what they believe in is so important. #coolmumclub

  3. Your post and mantras are absolutely spot on. I’ve really enjoyed reading this. I don’t want my daughter to be ‘nice’. It’s so wishy washy. Yes, I’d like her to be kind and thoughtful of others, but being true to herself and not being afraid to stand up and have her say in the world is so important. It’s still very much a man’s world and I’d like her to know that it’s also HER world. And the world’s her oyster. Thanks for sharing, Ruth #BloggingClubUK

    1. Thank you so much for all your comments. I feel very much like you, that the world is our daughters’ to do what they want with – it’s up to them.

  4. Hi Alison, As a Mum to two girls I worry too about how self perception and bias will impact them and their future. We play a game where I tell a story and my 4 year old fills the gaps when I pause. The story always seems to be filled with beautiful princesses, so tonight I filled some of the gaps myself. The story this time was about a clever and funny girl who became the prime minister of England. They hated it of course, but these subtle changes are my way if trying to show them alternative fairy tales 😉
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

  5. This is DEFINITELY one I will want to revisit again in 10 years! I can see how I may need to refocus my attention on the important things rather than the surface things (driven by an overwhelming sense of propriety and etiquette). Thank you for a great post. #BloggerClubUK

    1. Thank you for a great reply. You’ve got me thinking about ‘the surface things…driven by an overwhelming sense of propriety and etiquette..’ You should write a blog about that.

  6. Such an important issue and something that goes over my daughter’s head right now. But all those small things we teach them have a profound effect on them. I still remember the impact of my dad telling me I should aim high in life,it definitely had an impact. So while I tell my little girl she’s beautiful I think it’s more important to tell her the importance of being nice and encouraging her to try hard in whatever she does #coolmumclub

    1. You are so right when you say that it is the small things we teach our children that have an impact. Isn’t it amazing how one thing, said by one person can quite literally change our lives for the better…ooh the pressure! Thank you so much for your comments.

  7. Such a powerful post Alison and you are so very right. I love the quotes at the end and it’s so important for us to get the right balance as their parents. Too nice and you get trampled on is unfortunately often the case but sassy, as you describe it, lends itself to a little self-care and grit at the same time. Thanks so much for getting here for #TweensTeensBeyond Nicky

  8. It’s always bugged me that oftentimes girls are called “bossy” for doing the same things that boys are called “assertive” for. Like, it’s a positive for boys to act that way but for girls it’s frowned upon. Why?!! I have five daughters. I might need to pay more attention to how often I let them have an opinion – do I more often just want them to listen to me? Sometimes, when I’m in a hurry or maybe out of frustration…I think I just want to be listened to and not “argued” with. But am I sending a message when I do that? Now you’ve got me thinking.

    1. Five girls – snap! You make some brilliant points. It’s a difficult line to tread. I want my girls to learn how to argue effectively, but I still want to have the ultimate say!

  9. Helping our girls to know who they are and what they stand for is an invaluable life lesson. I want my daughter to always stand tall and stay true to herself and I hope that will be enough to see her through. Thanks for linking up again Alison. #TweensTeensBeyond

    1. Absolutely Jo. I don’t want my girls to be passive or doormats. I don’t want them to be martyrs. They definitely still need to shout to be heard.

  10. Brilliant brilliant brilliant. I especially loved the bit about not needing to be liked by everyone. I need to take note of that – women in my day were raised to be crowd pleasers and not rock the boat. Thanks so much for joining us at #TweensTeensBeyond we really appreciate your support.

    1. Thank you so much for your brilliant comments! I’m all for my girls rocking the boat. At least it shows that they aren’t complacent. It’s just teaching them when to stop that’s the hard bit!

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