Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wow, I'm mouthy today...

Ok, you really wouldn't believe how clean my house is and how un-neglected my kids are, considering the amount of posting I've done today. I promise, though - the kids are fine and the house is immaculate (yeah, right...).

Anyway, I think that this article at Salon.com (one of the smartest websites out there) is really important, and worth reading.

Go on and read it. I'll wait.

Ok, first of all I have to admit that I have snickered at Britney along with the rest of the world. I like a little good schadenfreude just as much as the next girl. Britney Spears was so spectacularly popular, and her fall has been so spectacularly tragic. You can't help but slow down and stare, just like you do on the highway when you see an accident. It is totally human nature. I am not judging anyone who does this, because I do it too.

However, however... I am a mother of daughters. As a mother of daughters, I am horrified by what we are teaching them to value in this culture. I've written about this before. It still bugs me.

I want my daughters to value creativity, achievement, effort, learning, curiousity, self-respect. I want them to believe in themselves. I want them to feel good about themselves, both inside and out. I want them to feel pretty because they are, not because it's a means to an end. I want them to know that they can do anything they want, that they don't need a man's approval or permission to be who they are. If they want to be scientists or engineers or pioneers or stay at home mothers like me, I want them to know that that's fine, as long as it makes them happy. I want them to make choices based on what they think they can do, not based on what society gives them permission to do, or not do.

I want to tell Britney Spears to slow down. I want to give her a hug and say, "What are you doing to yourself?" I want to teach her that she doesn't need to display herself the way she does, in revealing outfits and while getting out of cars. I want to explain to her that she's worth more than that, because she is. I want to encourage her to find her talent and start doing things, again, that she'll be proud of - that her kids will be proud of. I want to encourage her to straighten herself out and become a role model that I can encourage my children to follow.

Because if there's anything that our culture likes more than an "oh, how the mighty have fallen," story, it's the one where the mighty fall, and then they hit bottom, and then they redeem themselves and come back better than they ever were. Those are the stories that give us all hope, and I'll take hope over schadenfreude any day.

3 comments:

Jen said...

Maybe the expectations are too high... but frankly, I'd be happy as a pig in shit if I looked that good after having two kids...
Love,
Jen

Anonymous said...

It's very simple. The way you raise your daughter to value all the things you want them to value, is by respecting YOURSELF and valuing all those things in yourself. It's just like reading. If mom and dad love to read and their kids see that, then the kids grow up loving books and reading as well. The hard part is modeling the behavior ourselves, because sometimes we think less of ourselves than we should. It's always an uphill battle with that little voice in your head.
You're doing a terrific job though, and I am convinced that MG and Claire will both be excellent feminists just like their grandma.

B.J. said...

I think the "as long as it makes them happy" statement is incomplete. It's well-meaning but pursuing happiness without other constraints can lead to hedonistic lifestyles and choices that are detrimental. Drugs make people happy but generally lead to trouble and it is certainly not something that we'd support or encourage children to do or think is acceptable to do.

Instead, I think it should be:
we want you to grow up to do what makes you happy, gives your life purpose, and is morally correct.

I'm not picking on you - that statement is not something that a two year old is going to understand. But I've heard many parents say "so long as it makes them happy" without any qualifiers to or with regard to teenagers and that makes me wonder if the kids ever hear it? So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to espouse my opinion on the matter.