A recent open letter on the Internet has gone viral, in which an Atlanta mom revealed she was going to raise her daughters to believe they breathed fire.
It was in response to the recent revelation that Josh Duggar had cheated on his wife, Anna.
The mother talked about how she would raise her daughters to be empowered instead of repressed. She would teach them to stand up for themselves and be strong, independent women.
Mama may not have realized she was raising me to breathe fire, but she did. And she was a fire-breather herself, complete with the red hair and the Virginia Slim 120.
I was taught, rightly or wrongly, that my worth was not based on who I married. Or if I even married.
When I first entered college and was picking a major, someone commented: “Oh, so you are getting your M.R.S.”
“What degree is that?” I asked.
The lady looked at me and rolled her eyes, “You’re just here looking for a husband.”
No, not really. I was there to learn. I just hadn’t decided on a major yet.
I know some women who did do that though. I met a few women who told me they were raised to marry a doctor or a lawyer.
Unlike them, I was raised to be a doctor or lawyer. The fact that I am not either is one Mama reminds me of constantly.
Women are worth a lot more than just their career or education level though.
We forget we have any worth when we are repressed, suppressed and suffer abuse in any form. I think the verbal abuse can be one of the worst; being told repeatedly we are nothing, stupid, and worthless.
I have seen women suppressed to the point they lose their voice, their identity, their soul. While I fully believe that raising daughters to be strong women is important, we’re forgetting something else: How we raise our sons.
Do we raise our sons to perpetuate the male roles that can typically be more dominant or do we raise our sons to be kind and respectful towards women.
I’ve seen parents of other boys pushing their sons to use might, and force and criticizing them for being emotional.
I’ve heard my own husband tell Cole he had to be more aggressive, a point that caused me to shoot flames of my own.
“That is largely what is wrong with the world,” I stated emphatically. “This whole male aggression thing is out of hand, and Cole won’t be a part of it.”
I know he was inferring Cole needed to get more aggressive in sports; my child, however, is too kind and compassionate to be aggressive. I told this to Lamar, as well as pointing out that once Cole’s competitive streak kicked in, he would be fine in sports.
Aggressive and competitiveness are two different things and I’d rather my child be competitive.
It’s a matter of teaching boys that might doesn’t make right, that just because they are male, they are not superior, and that everyone should be treated with respect.
If all the mothers of boys were able to raise their sons to be kind and compassionate – free of any pressure to fit some antiquated alpha male stereotypes-they may empower the women in their life to be strong, independent and have high self-esteem.
It’s a matter of teaching our sons that women shouldn’t be called those derogatory terms they often are.
It’s showing boys how to respect girls, and if a girl says no, she means no; if a girl, or any person for that matter, feels insecure, how to give them confidence instead of taking advantage of the insecurity.
It’s a matter of treating others-everyone- with respect.
I think my child has a good grasp on this so far.
When we discussed the news one evening, and I simplified the events, Cole began his many, many questions. The one that stood out the most: “How would they feel if someone treated his daughter that way?”
I know I am raising my child to be gentle, to be loving, to be kind. One day, he will marry and have children, and I want him passing that on them.
I hope that whoever is raising his future wife is teaching her to be loving, supportive and to have a good heart.
I hope she will also be strong and independent, but if she’s not, I know my child has come from a long line of fire-breathing women and will encourage her to be a strong woman and help her feel confident. As long as he doesn’t tell her his Mama would do something a certain way, he’ll probably do great.
We do have to do better by our daughters.