Quote of the Day: Emotional Intelligence is a portal to fulfillment in every area of life. – Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence
I have four sons, but no daughters, so you might be wondering why I’ve been reading this book. I bought it first to help myself. I suffer from this curse. The author describes how many girls are taught that they need to “be nice.” They’re made to feel like they must be happy, kind, shy, nurturing, and not too smart. They list “bad girls” as the ones who stand out, wear flashy clothes, are creative, speak their minds. Girls start to believe that they’re only allowed to have “good” emotions, be happy, smile, be self-sacrificing, and in doing so, they lose themselves and become ashamed of having fears, anger, needs, and original thoughts.
I also read this book because every week creative, intelligent girls come to my door and sit on my piano bench. I want to help them become authentic women who aren’t afraid of hitting a wrong note, making a mistake, having a bad day, or shedding a few tears of frustration, because that’s what it means to be real. I want them to know that making mistakes is part of learning, and that you can’t be perfect all the time, if ever. Perfect, to me, is a dirty word. I’m trying to eliminate it from my vocabulary.
As a woman who teaches, nurtures, and counsels girls, I need to show them that I am a human being with a full range of emotions. I make mistakes. I have conflicts in relationships, and I embrace who I am, imperfections and all. As a mother of four sons, I need to show them that women are not happy, smiling Barbie dolls whose needs are less important than theirs. We all have needs. We all have good days and bad days. Sometimes we’re able to care for others, and other times we need their care. That’s what it means to be in a relationship with someone and to live an authentic life.
Journaling Prompt: Describe a strong, authentic woman in your life.
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Mary, this is a wonderful post. Yay! This brings to mind that it seems when men seek what they desire they are ambitious. when women do the same they are aggressive.
Teresa, You summed it up accurately, and we all know what they call an aggressive woman.
What a beautiful perspective you bring to the girls you teach. I’m sure your influence stays with them on some level. To not be afraid to be wrong, or make a mistake, or feel bad, actually seems like a great inner strength. There are two strong, authentic women in my life. My daughters … they keep me in line in more ways than one.
I like that you said you’re trying to ban the word ‘perfect’ from your vocabulary. I am a Perfectionist to the core, always have been, and it has caused me so many troubles in my 24 years. I have quit things [sports, camps, activities] for fear of failing. I have stressed out beyond a reasonable amount over things like dentist visits [??? no clue what I was thinking – I’m a worrier too haha] tests, and speeches. As I grow up, I have to more consciously battle the perfectionistic tendencies and make an effort to let go. Being a start up photographer in a world where I went to college for nursing has sure FORCED me to shed some of that perfectionism because I make mistakes ALL the time and I am learning as I go. There’s no room for perfectionism here, otherwise I’d never survive.
Thanks for this reminder today that it’s ok to make mistakes, to let go of ‘perfect,’ and to just LIVE.
Joanne, Thank you for the affirmations. It is empowering young women to allow them to be who they are, and feel what they’re feeling. Your daughters must be great!
Laura, Yes, let go of perfect. It is in our willingness to try, fail, and try again, that we find success. You can do it!
Thank you so much Mary and your nieces thank you as well – you have given me great thoughts for today and a good book to go look for. Thank you!
Thank you, Dawn. And, thanks for reminding me that I have beautiful, talented nieces to nurture as well. Can’t wait to see you this summer!
I love your caring commitment to your girl students. I wish more classroom teachers were willing to invest that kind of time and emotion in their students, Mary. 🙂
Thanks, Shannon. I do have the advantage of one on one times with them, or groups of two or three.
So so true.
I think it does come more naturally to some , than others, but I so value my girls spunk .
They are comfortable dressed up or not, with make up or not, quite and unassuming or silly or forthright or dare I say, even confrontational when the need arises.
I am learning from them , seriously.
I was always the good girl.
And I think it’s important for my son to have me as a good role model for his relationships and perspectives.
You go girl! Your blog is a great representation of how you live an authentic life.
Deb, it sounds like your girls are doing great, and so are you, raising both authentic daughters and sons.
Thanks, JeMA, you have helped me gain that confidence.
Mary, this piece of a sentence struck me: “…because that’s what it means to be real.” Beautiful, and having grown up in a house with several sisters, you are well-equipped to nurture and empower and understand well the female soul, as you have done so well in my life. I thought of you a lot this weekend while in the presence of other nurturing females, knowing how well you would fit in. Thank God for piano teachers like you!
Thank you, Roxane, you are a blessing to me!
Thank you for this wonderful post. As a piano teacher, you definitely get to see that Curse of the Good Girl up close. Teaching girls that it’s okay to “hit the wrong note,” literally and figuratively, can be a life-changing lesson. Your girls (and sons) are lucky to have you! Thank you for your eloquent rendering of the Curse, and your commitment to breaking it! It made my day to read this.
Love this post! It mirrors my own attitude towards raising girls. (I have five daughters and two sons.)
Rachel, I am so honored that you visited my blog and left a comment. This is a life changing book. I often share the golden nuggets of information from your book with other people. Thank you for writing it and caring about the emotional health of girls and women.
Moonduster, happy mothering to your brood! When I read “Curse,” I thought of ways to help my sons develope their full range of emotions as well, and learn to respect women.
Wonderful thoughts to set us right in bringing up kids. Thanks and play on! Btw, my children used to play the piano, violin and cello.Other things have taken over but am glad they have music in their hearts.
Thank you, Keats. You have planted the musical seed in your children. They might turn back to those instruments at other stages in their lives. Play on!
I really like this. I teach as well, and it’s hard to get students to believe that mistakes are okay and even necessary, that sometimes “hitting a wrong note” is the best thing that can happen to you.
You are so right, Miss. Wrong notes, comma splices, trip of the tongue. It all makes us human, and full of surprises!
Mary, you always have wonderful posts, loving and insightful, but, I’ve got to say that this is your best post ever. You said so much that I’ve thought but didn’t know how to say. It’s oh so true that too many girls are taught to submerge feelings, ambitions, and so on to be ‘good’ only to suffer emotionally years later. What a wonderful teacher and mother you are, to think beyond what your sons need, to think beyond teaching’s immediate requirements to what’s down the road. Because you’re right, ‘perfect’ isn’t always a ‘good’ word.
Thanks, Kittie, your words of affirmation feel so good.