Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Curse of the Good Girl

An oxi-moronic title, I know.

If I actually owned a "good girl"  (beyond the dog, that is. . . ) would it really be a "curse"????

Perhaps not, but I read the book by Rachel Simmons none-the-less.  You know. . .  just to see what I was missing out on. Besides, I was curious about the subtitle:  Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence.

And it turns out that I should have read this book years ago, for I quickly discovered that many of the situations the author documents have been played out in my household time and time again.

Simmons, founding director of the Girls Leadership Institute and author of Odd Girl Out, gave me some powerful insight into the underlying factors that may motivate my daughters' seemingly irrational, wacky and erratic behavior.  Her basic premise?  That society in general (and mothers like me in particular) unwittingly condition their daughters to act and think like socially acceptable "good girls" instead of encouraging them to develop a more independent and authentic attitude in their relationships with each other.  In fact, the second half of the book is dedicated to giving parents specific tools to model this behavior for, and with,  their daughters. 

Could I have raised my daughters to think. . . do. . . respond. . .  for themselves instead of trying to be people pleasers like their mother?  Could I have taught them to stand up for themselves more often?  Should I have insisted that my daughters think for themselves, regardless of what the "crowd" is doing or thinking? Could their relationships with their BFF's gone smoother with the knowledge I have only so recently gained?

I suppose so. . .

But consider - for starters - Ponzi's knee-jerk reaction when she saw me reading the book in the first place. . .  What are you reading, you Psycho?  You're not reading that for me!  Are you????

Did I get paid to do this book review?  Of course not!  But I would have PAID someone to write these affirming words that I found on page 118: "The problem is that mothers appear to be the prime targets of children's anger. . .  If girls are experimenting with conflict largely on their mothers, it may be that women bear a special responsibility to reflect carefully on their behavior in conflict with their daughters.. . . It is mothers who teach their daughters the ABCs of conflict." 

So hit the deck, folks. Trigger is threatening to come home from college this weekend. . . .