Warning Mothers: Abort Girl Empowerment Mission, Quick!

Abort mission!

Abort mission!

Before it’s too late!

Quick! Stop laughing at your toddler girls’ sassy comments.

Stop being amused when she half-rudely, but oh-so-cutely, spouts off.

You’re not raising an empowered woman. It was all a ruse.

You’re digging your own “differentiation” grave.

You think you’re preparing her to be a strong, empowered woman who isn’t afraid to speak up. Which is awesome, when she still believes in your goodness, kindness and love unquestioningly. When this is directed at things you hate too.

It’s a trick!

What you’re really doing is making your own life hell, by giving her permission to “speak her mind” which translates to “dump her crappy attitude all over you.” Rumor has it this could go on for most of adolescence and into early adulthood.

YOU!

Yes, YOU!

In psychology they call it “differentiation.” When the daughter lashes out irrationally, unreasonably and often cruelly at her . . . MOTHER! They say it’s healthy for her to enforce boundaries “I am Me,” and “You are You!” and I motherloving HATE you! Or at least I hold you responsible for all of my crappy, difficult-to-handle feelings. And my hobby is to speak to you as if you’ve caused every problem ever invented and I want you to fix it immediately, to change my life.

No, dad won’t be the brunt of this.

No, the sexist misogynists won’t bear the burden.

No, the media and marketing that sexualizes her won’t get the lashing.

MOM shoulders differentiation alone. With no way out, no response soothing enough.

It’s not constant, like something you can predict. It’s random. You’ll be doing every-day stuff like say, cutting an orange for her school snack.

Sudden explosion!

I hate oranges!

What? You’ve been eating oranges for 11 years, and you’ve always liked them.

I hate oranges and I’ve always hated oranges! YOU DON’T KNOW ME! 

And then you understand, how your mother turned into a raving, psychotic, screaming, insane woman. It was you. And you weren’t even a bad daughter. Just a daughter who suddenly felt she had the right to “speak her mind” and turned it directly on your mother. Is this payback? you wonder. My own bad-daughter karma?

What fresh hell is this? How can I turn it around? You ask yourself. You ask the more experienced mothers, how do I make this stop? 

Then they give you that knowing look, one of pity and resignation. The same look, now that you think about it, as the one they gave you when you described Marriage Shock, Baby Shock and Divorce Shock. It’s yet another secret of femininity, closely guarded and protected.

I never would have spoken to my parents the way my daughter speaks to me, some might tell you.

What’s different? you’ll ask.

Well, I would have been terrified. They would have been the tar out of me, they’ll say.

Maybe I should have beat her. Why didn’t I beat her? Why was I so stupid as to not believe in spanking? you’ll wonder aloud.

Always projected as good mother/bad mother. That happens in their house, I have a great relationship with my daughter, you imagine the other mother’s thinking. You know they are thinking it, because you thought it too. Back when sassy and opinionated was cute. Especially, the ones with little three and four year olds, the ones who are trying so hard to do it “right” and who believe they aren’t making the same mistakes you did, so their daughters will never turn on them.

Last year I was the perfect mother! It’s not fair! I did all the right things! you cry to yourself. Attempting to convince who? you wonder. Not your daughter, that’s for sure.

Abort Mission Empower Your Daughters!

Quick!

You’re the target! You just don’t know it yet!

How can I change my life, you ask?  Tracee Sioux does that every day for her clients.  Check out her website for more details.

 

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Emotional Trauma Prediction

Seek and ye shall find.

Matthew 7:7

Since we’re on the topic of emotional habits that backfire (“Just” a Word, 50 Shades of Being Treated Like Shit is Hot, Body Forgiveness) I’ve got another one that I have been guilty of and likely many of you are too.

Emotional Trauma Prediction

This is how the internal conversation goes:

If I got a divorce I would be terrified.

If I got fired or laid off I would be devastated.

I would be completely destroyed if . . .

I will be so sad when my children go off to college.

I would go crazy if I had to work with that woman.

Often we carry on this conversation when someone we know is going through something and it elicits our sympathy. We personalize it to experience empathy. However, when we imagine how we’re going to feel and then put descriptive feeling words around it we’recommitted.We’ve limited our own emotional choices.

Now if your husband walks out on you, you have to be terrified. You’ve already decided that’s your emotional response.If you get fired or laid off, you have to be devastated.You have to be completely destroyed if(insert worse fear ever).You’ve invited yourself to go “crazy” if you have to work with someone and you must be sad when your children make the natural progression into adulthood.

Add to that the fact that you’ve just attracted divorce, being laid off or fired, your worst fear and working with a horrible person. Simply by dwelling in the imagination and attaching an intense feeling to it, you have spread your arms wide open to the experience, inviting it into your world.

I interviewed a wise woman, Lisa Stroyan, an empathic parenting advocate, yesterday who said something profound.

Dont decide you have to have all the answers for the future right now. Focus on relationships and trust that youll be able make a good decision when you get there. Don’t put angst on the future, in my experience with people, things tend to work themselves out. Worry about making right now the best you can. We always think we need to know the answer now, but what that is is a lack of self trust, when you think you need to know what youll be doing in two years. Fix problems as they arise.

When you make emotional predictions, and determine for yourself that they be traumatic, you trap yourself into a required emotional response. Your children going to college could be a wonderful expansion of independence for both you and your kids; the divorce you’re afraid of might feel like a blessed relief; that woman could turn out to be your BFF; your worst fear might be your greatest gift when confronted; losing your job could be the beginning of a more fulfilling career.

When you realize that you have emotionalchoices and allow them to come when the event comes, rather than preparing yourself for events that may never happen, you free yourself to allow authentic emotional experiences.

 

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My Hero (pssst… It’s Me!)

MY HERO

BY: AINSLEY

 

One of the people I admire is my mom.

First, one reason she is my hero is she is brave. She is brave because she likes to do dare-devil things. One thing she did that was scary was she and I went on a 1,200 feet drop Canyon Swing! We strapped in and the swing went almost all the way upside down! Another she is brave is she is a single mom, a writer, and a dog owner. I think she is brave because there is a lot of things to worry about because she has to take care of Zack and I, she has to turn all her stories in before her deadline, and she has to take care of a 9 week old puppy. One more reason she is brave is she is not afraid of what others think of her. She will dance in public if I wasnt around and she will not care of what people say about her.

Next, another reason I admire her is because she is talented. She is talented because she can take care of 2 kids and a puppy. Another reason she is talented is she is a fabulous mom. She is always nice and is very strict though. I cant believe she can manage to take care of us! Another reason she is talented is she is very smart. She can answer anything in a split second.

Finally, she is very loving. She is loving because she stills loves my dad even though they are divorced. She still talks to him and is nice to him. Another reason she is loving is she loves my uncle even though he is mad at her. She still tries to talk to him even though he doesnt want to talk to her. One more reason she is loving is she loves all of her family. She never says mean things to them and would never try to hurt their feelings.

All in all, I love and admire my mom.

 

It would appear that I have not ruined my children’s lives after all by throwing in the towel on my 12-year marriage. My kids are showering me with cards, love letters, paintings and supportive words of affection. It is sad, the transition of a family into something new and different. But, we’re all doing the best we can. All evidence suggests that I’m doing a bang up job of it.

 

 

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The Girl Revolution in New York Times Magazine

Very Public Exposure

Ainsley and I were in the New York Times Magazine on Friday. It was risky and scary, though important, because the topic was early puberty. TGR Body, our craptastic-ingredient-free skincare line (many skincare products are thought to have toxins that interfere with hormones), and The Girl Revolution were both highlighted.

You know I’ve researched the issue and shared the information here, but I’ve not discussed our personal experience. We considered the decision carefully Ainsley, myself and her dad and we felt that discussing it in public would be useful for other parents and girls.And it has been. The writer,Elizabeth Weil, has two girls of similar age to Ainsley and vowed to present us in a positive light, unembarassing, not humiliating. I thank her for keeping her word. I’ve received several emails of support, other parents and girls sharing their own experiences; thank you notes for being brave and helping them understand what’s happening with their daughters; making them feel less alone.

We chose not to have Ainsley’s face appear in the photographs because we couldn’t really determine the consequences of that.

Shame & Causes

I also felt that choosing not to talk about it added some sort of shame to early puberty, as if we had done something wrong to, as you hear constantly “allow girls to grow up too fast.” Well, we’re not ashamed and we shouldn’t be. We didn’t doanything to cause it. We didn’t neglect to do anything that caused it. We didn’t do a damn thing to “make our girls grow up too fast.”

It might be the hormones in meat and milk, it might be pesticides, it might be flame retardants, it might be the plastic Playtex insert baby bottles we microwaved when she was a baby, it might be eating more protein than our ancestors, it could be anything. Or it’s possible that it is none of these things.

It might even be evolution in action right before our very eyes. The world is on fast forward with our explosion of technology, maybe evolutionarily there is a very important reason for developing faster as a species that we simply don’t understand yet. Everything is happening faster for them, we expect more of them. Ainsley is already doing math that we weren’t expected to know until the 7th grade. They blog and learn PowerPoint in elementary school. These girls have not become adults and while we may be afraid of the consequences of early puberty, we don’t know the outcome yet. It’s not only happening to girls, it’s happening to boys as well.It’s not happening only in the United States where many of the suspected causes are more prevalent, it’s happening all over the world (Hindustan Times article). It’s at least possible that it is not harmful, but helpful in some way.

Either way, it is what it is, we’re not likely to stop it, at least not before this crop of girls develop into teenagers. The only thing to do is accept it, and dare I say, even embrace it.

New Developments

Since last year Ainsley has continued to mature. But, it hasn’t been as emotionally or developmentallydisastrousas I had feared. In fact, the girls in her class discuss their “stages of development” very openly. They trust The Care and Keeping of You by American Girl as the Bible of Puberty. As it turns out Ainsley is #7 out of 10, not # 1, in getting a bra in her 4th grade class. It was one of the best days of her life. Getting a bra is a badge of honor with the girls debating the best colors to get (tan) and the best places to buy them (Target). Girls appear to be discussing their developmental stages openly with their parents (someone had to buy them a bra). They shave their armpits, and sometimes legs, as a matter of course and are even excited about it.

Juxtapose this to the many stories you hear from women about their first menses: no one told me it was coming and I thought I was dying; I didn’t tell my mom for three days; she saw the laundry and finally explained it to me; it felt shameful to me and no one ever talked about it; my mother called it a curse and told me it would be horrible; etc. You’ve heard the stories and maybe it’s your story. Things feel different now. Parents who went through those experiences and didn’t enjoy them are communicating with their daughters about the experience of development and puberty. Girls, in general, know about and don’t fear their periods or getting breasts. Rather than weird clinical books with bizarre diagrams, they are given fun books like The Care and Keeping of You, replacing Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret (we must, we must, we must increase our bust!).

Sacred & Powerful Gift

If you’ve ever read The Red Tent, (and if you haven’t you should) you know that once upon a time, for thousands of years, a woman’s first menses was acelebratory and sacred, holy, exciting event. Women held rituals to initiate a woman in her various stages of development from menses to birth to menopause Girl, Maiden, Mother, Crone. I’d like to see that traditionresurrected. As I mentioned in New York Times Magazine I do intend to throw a party. Even if it’s just a party of her and I a nice dinner and the Chocolate Cafe and maybe a piece ofcommemorativejewelry. Or a women’s circle ritual with our girlfriends at my friend Anna’s Women’s Sacred Way studio. I’m all prepared for her first period with a Red Goddess Celebration Box, filled with essential oils, eye pillows, letters from her grandmothers, etc. I have panty liners stashed away, just in case. I’d like to share an experience different from a tampon or douche commercial. I’d love to share an experience of menstruation as a sacred gift able to produce life, a source of power. (For more on the power of our cycles read Red Moonand The Optimized Woman: If You Want to Get Ahead Get a Cycle.) When I go to the bathroom to cry, it will likely be bitter-sweet, a mixture of joy and of saying good-bye to the baby stages of my little girl knowing that precious, tender time will vanish from our lives forever. I imagine that’s what mothers have done for eons.

Puberty, whenever it comes, is not tragic. It’s a life-giving, sacred and exciting gift. Women have been having periods and growing breasts since the dawn of time, and we’ll keep on doing it until the end of time. We’ve lived, flourished and nurtured ourselves at varying degrees during different phases of history. Now is the time for a rebirth of our own sacred traditions. It’s time to heal the Sacred Feminine.

 

 

 

 

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Teen Payback – Look Out!

Here’s the scene:Grandma and Grandpa have come to visit. We’re sitting around the dinner table.

“Was my Mom a good teenager or a bad teenager?” Ainsley asked with a bit of a mischievous look in her eye.

Pause. Forks in the air.

My parents and I laugh.

“I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it will incriminate . . . ————> HER!” my dad said, pointing at me.

“Come on tell me,” Ainsley implored.

“Is she a good Mom?” my Mom asked.

“What?” Ainsley asked.

“Is she a good Mom?”

“Yeah.”

“Then that’s what matters,” my mom said chuckling.

“I bet she was a bad teenager,” Ainsley quipped.

“Let’s just say, if pay back is a real thing then LOOK OUT!” my dad warned Ainsley.

God, if you’re out there surfing the Internet, please, please please give Ainsley an easier, smoother and more loving adolescent experience than my poor family suffered through.

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