My eldest daughter of all four children is the one I worry about the most.
I know you can’t and certainly shouldn’t compare children. They’re all individuals. I know this. I can’t be the only parent who sometimes wonders how if you’ve parented all your children in the same way how come the end result is so different?
I’ve always admitted that my parenting style is one of making it up as I go along , it seems to work the majority of the time though.
Before eldest girl came my two sons.
They do fantastically academically , impeccably well behaved ( in school at any rate I’m not raising Topsy and Tim here!) they’re driven and motivated and *touch wood * at almost 17 and 15 they’ve never caused me too much bother or worry.
Eldest girl is a whole different kettle of fish. I learnt this when she was a baby. She has always been fiercely independent, very head strong and to be brutally frank , a bit of a pain in the arse . I wrote here why I don’t think that is particularly a bad thing.
I’ve asked her permission to write this as I really don’t want this to seem as though I am blogging about my child in a negative way. This isn’t negative. I did always want my blog to be a honest place though and it may seem I am always talking about how great it is to be a parent of teens ( and it really , really is in my experience so far ) There are challenges though.
Eldest girl has struggled with school this past year. She doesn’t seem to settle into it well. She’ll get into trouble for talking and rolling her eyes when a teacher tells her to hush. I’ll get emails about how she’s answered teachers back. I get irritable and annoyed with her when I hear this . I’d not stand for that kind of horrible bad manners at home, that she will display it to other people , well I really hate that.
I think I should take a bit of responsibility though. After all am I not the one who tells her to never let injustice pass her by? Who acknowledges that as a female my daughter will always have to shout louder to be heard, that she’ll have to fight to be allowed to take up space. If I then punish her for doing what she sees as standing up for herself, well I’m probably giving out mixed messages.
I wrote here about trying to teach her about picking her battles and that’s something we still need to work on.
I do worry she has little focus , that she has no real plans for the future , she’s 14 I don’t expect her to have her life mapped out I just think having something to aim for is healthy.
Last week we had a breakthrough.
My daughter is one of only 4 girls who have chosen to do computing as a GCSE next year. These girls were invited to go to a local company (CDL in Stockport) for the day. To have a look around, to chat to people who work there and to learn a bit more about a career in I.T ( oh my is it even still called I.T ? I am sooo old)
My daughter came home from this day inspired! Truly! She couldn’t shut up about her day and the people she’d met. She’d put together a plan and researched what GCSE grades she’d need and what her options were after school to pursue this career that has spoken to her so loudly.
The thing with my eldest daughter is that she, at 14 , has been coming up against inequality and sexism already for a very , very long time. From the boys who wouldn’t pass to her as a girl in the primary school football team. From teachers who have had her help others struggling with work when she’s finished early when the boys are given extension work. From certain family and ‘friends’ who pass comment about why can’t she dress like a proper girl. She is very much a hoody and trackies kind of girl and I really am quite jealous because she rocks it. I would look a fool. From the horrible words such as difficult and feisty and bossy that are never applied to her male counterparts exhibiting the same behaviour.
Yet last week she went to a company where they didn’t just tolerate females in a male dominated environment but they embraced it, they actively encouraged it . I think that could have been the first time (other than mum who obviously doesn’t count ) that she’d been told how valuable she was as a young woman. That her contribution to the world was welcomed, that there is a space for female voices where you don’t have to shout to be heard.
I’ve always said that I think the key to channelling my daughter’s spirit and passion is to surround her by inspirational , empowering women who can help her with learning how to choose battles and channel the kind of drive that makes me think of all my children she could no doubt change the world.
Last week she got a taste of that and I’m so grateful to CDL for sparking something in my daughter that has left her motivated and excited for the future.
Now ..just need to work on the eye rolling…..
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