Blog: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun?

We must continue to help our daughters have a positive self image, support other women.

I found myself yet again facing the challenge of third-grade-girl emotions last week.

Recently, three girls had a sleepover at our house on a Friday night. We had a lovely dinner of pizza, followed by ice cream and then came home to settle in. 

I had talked with my daughter about how much fun the night would be if they could all get along (sounds rather cliché, doesn’t it?) and that I would not be spending the night referee-ing any disputes.

As a mom who has been reading to her children since infancy; sitting next to the crib reading books and continuing to do so; I have desperately sought books to include positive female role models and messages of peace and independence among the myriad of princesses and evil step-mothers that seeped into our lives as if it were a girl's birthright.

We’ve read all about Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Pocahontas and covered topics that I hope have planted the seeds of positivity like “There’s Only One You” and “We Are All Born Free,” among many others.

What I quickly noticed (and this is not rocket science); is that it became increasingly difficult to find books where the female character isn’t either focused on looks or somehow evil or envious of other females around.

Meanwhile, the superhero books my son was first drawn to talked immediately about teamwork and obviously illustrated how the male characters were all working together to accomplish a common good.

So, you ask, what does all of this have to do with my sleepover? Well, once settled in, the girls decided to play the Xbox Dance game and quickly began to bicker about who was “hogging” the camera space on the Kinect, which ultimately ended in tears and the game being abandoned (and here I thought they would be dancing the night away).

Could I resist referee-ing … NO! After a few more disagreements, I called my daughter away from the others and proceeded to pronounce “if you can’t get along, you cannot have anyone sleep over anymore” … UGH! I’m not sure if I was more irritated that I sounded like my mother or that I was contributing to this separation of women because we simply can’t get along and prefer to spend time brooding over why other females (including friends?!?) are out to get us … DOUBLE UGH!

So back to the drawing board I went; the positive “pep talks” on the way to school about being strong and confident; the tiny pebble with the word “strength” that I put in her pocket to remind her at school; the notes in her lunch box about how proud I am that she is kind and loving, looking her in the eyes as I drop her at the class door and saying “stay true to yourself; you are a good person” the searches on Amazon for even more books I could read on the topic of raising girls.

Until our daughters are able to rise up and meet these challenges, this mom and my small army of books, good friends, positive role models and pep talks will continue to press on against the large army of princesses, evil step mothers, and Hollywood body images. In the words of another great woman:

 “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Dyan Chan January 23, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Hi Stephanie, Great post! These issues are so, so hard on both our daughters and on us parents! I have 10- and 6-year-old daughters, and it is a constant struggle to maintain harmony. I agree, one of the best strategies is to stay out of their battles as much as possible, but I find that practically impossible sometimes. I wasn't sure if you had three or four girls at the sleepover ... as you probably know, threesomes are often extra challenging. It sounds like you are a thoughtful, caring mom who is doing a terrific job! Our moms surely didn't have it this rough!
Stephanie Bennett January 23, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Dyan! Thank you so much for reading and responding. There were 3 girls which I knew may have been a little hairy! As a mom and and working person; I just want things to be different for the generation of girls we are raising! Don't wait to figure out self confidence until you are 30 and band together to support each other from the very beginning!! We know how strong we are, we have to be in this together as girls and as women.
Jennifer Bergthold January 24, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Nicely written Steph! I remember it well, the referee role at sleepovers... it's just a part of the hosting role, unfortunately. Speaking as the mom of a confident, strong daughter, I have to say I went through some of the same frustrations raising her. You can't avoid the outside influences, unfortunately, and even confident young girls/ladies go through times where they feel down on themselves... the important thing is to continue doing exactly what you are doing, reinforcing being true to herself. If she turns out half as awesome as her mommy, you will have done good work. ;) Jennifer
Stephanie Bennett January 24, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Jen!! You are so kind! I am glad to hear it...it's funny, we all lived through it. I just keep thinking if we can get them to support each other when they are younger, they may not have the uphill challenges we have faced in the workplace!
Amie Sue January 27, 2012 at 07:49 PM
IMHO, sexism and racism begins when people start referring to people by stating what their race and gender are, as if it has anything to do with their ability or interests. I managed an all-girl rock band in the early 80's (post Runaways- pre-Go-Go's) and loved how people in the audience would refer to our drummer/guitarist/bass player who all sang as "good for girls," hmmm...I never told any of my guy friends that they were "good for a guy..." as a group of young innocent girls, we never understood that sexist garbage one bit. It was a novelty, sure, but not intended to cause an uproar simply by being what they all were...female, and musicians. Gee, so nutty huh? I read my both of my sons stories that contained strong characters, interesting morals (right and wrong, good vs. evil etc) and moving story lines and/or themes. whether or not they were male or female had no merit. A child has to be taught that anything is possible if it's what they want to do, it's who they are, not what they look like that limits or defines them. JUST do IT!
Lynne Bryant, CS March 15, 2012 at 02:11 PM
I thought those days of being the referee were behind me when my daughters became teenagers, but being the referee takes on a different form: it's helping them through the high school drama when some teens can be painfully cruel. Continuing to instill confidence, and as you say "be true to yourself," is so important (in my opinion). Sounds like you are a great example and a great mom.
Nescett Wright March 20, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I'm the mom of a 4th grader and I do know what you mean about the "mean girl" stereotypes in the media. We have a lot of discussions in our house about what we see on TV. Recently, my daughter came home from talent show practice with 3 other girls and told me they had "dealt with their issues." My daughter had coordinated them sitting in a circle, legs out, and discussing what was bothering them (mostly a lot of bossing). What cuties! I remember the girl drama of middle school and I think it's unavoidable but it helps if your kids are friends with the nice girls and not the mean ones.
Lisa Evans March 28, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Perfect post. I was looking up things for a slumber party for my daughter with my Girl Scout troop of 22 girls, and came across your posting. It was perfect and so much of my life!!! I love the meetings when they all get along, but so often we deal with issues from there week of girls not getting along. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face. ~Lisa (Mom of 8 year old and troop leader to 22 ranging from 5 to 10 years old.


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