This past week I was reminded about an event that happened when my oldest daughter was about 6 years old. We were at the dentist getting her teeth cleaned and the hygenist asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said “A veterinarian”. The hygenist told her “Oh, you don’t want to do that. It’s too hard”. It took every bit of restraint I had not to go smack that lady in the head. I sat there and gritted my teeth (good business for her boss), while she continued to expand on why she thought it was too hard. When we were in the car driving home my daughter said to me unprompted ”Mom, I’m going to become a veterinarian before I get married and have kids”. Wahooooo! The child thinks for herself. The child doesn’t listen to adults (as she has gotten older that has been a source of conflict between us at times. I remind myself that Independent is Good). I was really proud of her. Then I got to thinking. How could that statement have impacted a child that wasn’t as much of an independent thinker?
There is something about girls in particular where they tend to look outside themselves for answers. They are especially susceptible to media messaging, cultural messaging, and the influence of the way we present ourselves. This means as the Mom of daughters (or aunts, or grandmothers), that we need to be conscious of what we are modeling to them. Think twice before that big butt comment comes out of our mouths, as we are looking in the mirror. Try not to let our self critical voice actually say something out loud. Better yet, duct tape that self critical voice shut forever. You don’t need it either. I became an engineer because someone told me that if I took a year of electronics they could get me a job for $6.00 an hour (that was a lot of money way back then). I didn’t even know what electronics was at the time. I didn’t have a technical role model like that around. Especially a female one. What I did have was a Mother who always (and I mean ALWAYS) told me that “You can do whatever you want to”. No limits. So when our girls dream big, let’s try and remember not to limit their dreams with our responses. If you can’t think of anything to say, please borrow my Mom’s one liner. “You can do whatever you want to”. It did wonders for me.