I’m going to deviate from the usual format of my column and use this space to share one of my own parenting struggles and invite reader feedback.
My first-born turned 9 years old last month! I can’t believe it, but somehow I have a bright, thoughtful, caring daughter who loves books, baking, swimming, gymnastics and still wants to cuddle with me.
This birthday is a touchstone in some ways; I am seeing this child’s beautiful essence radiate from the inside out. She’s a quiet person, but more sure of herself than ever before. She’s less shy and more willing to take risks. She’s thoughtful, but also stubborn and opinionated. She’s finding her voice to say no to things (including to me more and more) and finding out what makes her light up. She’s comfortable in her own skin. She doesn’t put herself or others down. Her authenticity is gorgeous.
While I am seeing her spirit shine like never before, this birthday is fraught for me. As an educator and parent coach, I’m all too familiar with what happens to girls around this age. A girl’s confidence peaks at age 9. Let me state that again: A girl’s confidence peaks at age 9. That means that most girls, and later women, will never feel as good about themselves ever again as they did when they were just a 9-year-old child. A tragedy is being inflicted on girls and women. When the avalanche of sexism in our culture comes crashing down on our little girls, the damage is immeasurable. Within a year of their 9th birthdays, these bright shiny girls start to dim their glorious lights. They start to feel they are not enough as they are. Concerns about weight, appearance and fitting in cripple their spirits.
So I am scared. I am aware that this year might be the last in a long time where my little girl feels amazing about herself just as she is. I am committed to doing everything to preserve her positive self-concept, but I need support!
If you’re a parent of a young girl and have found ways to build-up and preserve her healthy self-concept, please email me – [email protected] – telling me what worked for you. I would love to share reader ideas in an upcoming Acorn Advice column.
I am hopeful our young girls can return to themselves. That perhaps this difficult stage of adolescence can pass without leaving lasting scars. That our daughters will emerge from their struggles stronger and wiser. Here’s to our girls staying strong, determined, and confidant in the new school year!
Julia Cadieux, a PCI Certified Parent Coach and Capital District mom, helps other parents look within for the answers they seek and believes there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to child-rearing. Send you questions and comments to [email protected]dparent.com.
Aug 04, 2016 Comments Off on Acorn Advice: Don’t avoid conversations about sex