Thursday, October 15, 2009
How to Raise Strong Women
My family has some crazy strong women. There's my great-grandmother, the race car driver. My grandmother the artist who created beauty and wonder through the darkest years of Poland's communism. My mother, who, with a little elbow grease, can get anything done. My sister, the backpacker, who seems to become more and more like Macgyver with every passing year. And so I'm not surprised that my own sweet daughters both posses some strength.
With Zosia, her strength was immediately evident-- as in, even before she was born. I think that few more active in-utero babies have ever existed. She has lived up to her reputation, possessing strength of body, strength of will, strength of emotions. Some parents might groan at such a child. They might struggle with such a child. But I know that there is something amazing in strong children, because they produce strong adults. Adults that can stand up to difficult circumstances, that can remain strong in the face of adversity. Strength is an asset.
Lily's strength is more subtle-- she is calm, steady, collected. And while she appears to be a gentle little munchkin, I know that all of her characteristics require a great deal of strength. She holds steady when life is topsy turvy. She is an anchor. Even in her tiny 5-month body, there are times when she has been able to transform the mood of this house from upset to joyful, or from chaotic to focused. She is strong, oh so strong, but in a beautifully different way.
So here we are in a family of strong women. There have been many times that I have thrown my hands up and wondered, "How do I do this?" Raising strong women is a difficult task, a responsibility that 18 plus years of schooling never prepared me for.
Over the past several years I have been watchfully observing mothers around me, my own mother, older mothers, trying to glean some wisdom about how to go about this. And I am still struggling, wondering, looking for ways to help shape two strong women. I can see that it has something to do with nurturing their natural abilities and interests, giving them control over their surroundings, teaching them about empathy and concern for others. But where do I go from there? How do I lovingly parent two women who have the power to accomplish, love, experience so much?
(Above: three generations of strong women at Zosia's baptism: I'll probably be posting some older pictures while my camera is on sick leave)