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I Don’t Want My Daughter to Be Nice

I Don’t Want My Daughter to Be Nice

When I first saw the title of this article on the New York Times Parenting blog, I literally sighed out loud.  With anti-girly girl movements, stay-at-home-mom shaming, which seems all very obvious to me, I expected this piece by Catherine Newman to be yet another trash talk on the girly-girl, and it is, but only kind of.  What I like about this piece, is that the author clearly points out expectations and differences between male and female.  Newman talks about her daughters not-nice qualities in comparison with her sons overt niceness.

I know that our sweet-hearted son, who is 13, has always had the experience of niceness being its own reward. What can I do to help? he asks. Please, take mine, he insists, and smiles, and everyone says, “Oh, aren’t you nice!” and “What a lovely young man!” (Or sometimes, because he kind of looks like a girl, “What a lovely young lady!”) But, if I can speak frankly here, you really don’t worry about boys being too nice, do you? He still has the power and privilege of masculinity on his side, so, as far as I’m concerned, the nicer the better.

Compare this to…

I bite my tongue so that I won’t hiss at her to be nice. I tell you this confessionally. Because do I think it is a good idea for girls to engage with zealously leering men, like the creepy guy in the hardware store who is telling her how pretty she is? I do not. “Say thank you to the nice man who wolf-whistled!” “Smile at the frat boy who’s date-raping you!” I want my daughter to be tough, to say no, to waste exactly zero of her God-given energy on the sexual, emotional and psychological demands of lame men — of lame anybodies. I don’t want her to accommodate and please. I don’t want her to wear her good nature like a gemstone, her body like an ornament.

 

It’s a hard topic and it’s definitely gender/biological sex specific.  Stereotypically people expect girls to be nice and boys to be masculine, AKA, physically strong and emotionally immature.  I like that Newman points out her own hypocritical tendency when discussing her son versus her daughter, though I’m not sure this was intentional.

But there is one thing that Newman insinuates about gender which follows the girly-girl bashing. Newman, like many others’ writing about girls, the color pink, girl play, likens niceness to naivety, and, typically masculine characteristics of sloppyness and brut behavior to success.

Here is the part where all of this negative gender stereotyping happens, whereas before, her observations about her son and daughters character didn’t directly relate to their future success.

She is a beautiful kid, but she is also sure and determined in a way that is not exactly pretty. Which is fine, because God help me if that girl ends up smiling through her entire life as if she is waitressing or pole-dancing or apologizing for some vague but enormous infraction, like the very fact of her own existence.

I picture her at the prom in stripy cotton pajamas, eating potato chips with both hands. I picture her slapping a patriarch-damning sticker on her jacket. I picture her running the country, saving the world, being exactly the kind of good bad girl that she knows herself to be. And I think: You go. I think: Fly! I think: Take me with you.

And I just have to add that I hope no parent ever hopes for their son or daughter to be at prom, eating potato chips, with both hands. Unless you want your kid to be either overweight or poorly behaved, or both…

Taxes.


imagesI call myself a professional nanny, but what makes me a professional? Beyond just being “good” with infants and toddlers, I’m a professional because my job doesn’t simply stop when I leave work. I think about how to deal with new transitions and developmental stages long after work hours.  I do research into early childhood development, parenting styles, and baby/toddler gear. I am always professional in regards to my employers privacy (hence the lack of any identifying information, pictures and names on my blog.)

I think about everything I do with the children I care for, and how to be better the next time around.  I now write about childcare on my blog and occasionally for Nanny Magazine. And I love what I do.  But what really makes me a professional in the eyes of my peers?  I pay taxes and I have health care provided by my employers.

Peers almost applaud when they find out the last two aspects of my job, the other stuff, my time, focus and work ethic doesn’t really seem to matter.  What matters most are taxes and health care….And this is good!

I am happy, even grateful at moments that I am able to work for, not just a family who I like, but a family who treats my job choice as legitimate and respectable. Unfortunately they are an anomaly among personal, in home childcare employers.

The reality is that I am grateful, because my situation is rare.  But I don’t want to be grateful, I want the treatment I’ve received from my current employers to be the norm, not the exception.

Why Childcare Professionals (baby sitters and nannies) should be “on the books.”

As long as social security still exists when I retire, I will have funds to retire on. I can rent an apartment, lease a car, buy a house one day, because I have a paper trail of credibility and financial stability.

Why Parents should insist on this.

Unless parents are working with an illegal immigrant they should insist on on the books pay, for the reasons listed above, and for similar reasons discussed in Jacoba Urist’s article, Should You be Paying Taxes on your Baby Sitter  in Motherlode.

“In the final analysis, it’s most important to remember that withholding rules are designed to protect your nanny, by financing her Social Security and Medicare down the road — just as she tries to anticipate your child’s needs each and every day.”

This Kind of Picky Eater is Made, Not Born: Motherlode

Sally Sampson writes about picky eaters for Motherlode.

“To answer my original questions: What is a picky eater? Is it someone who won’t taste new things? Yes. Someone who knows exactly what they like? No. Someone who loves the spotlight? Not initially but maybe later.

Are picky eaters made, not born? Yes, but with a caveat: Maybe it is just semantics. I don’t define a picky eater as someone who has food allergies or sensitivities, sensory issues or an honest dislike of a particular food. After all, I hate peanut butter so much I can’t be in a room with someone who eats it. Ditto boiled eggs. A picky eater is someone who won’t try new things and won’t give a rebuffed food a second chance. That kind of picky eater isn’t born — he’s made.”

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motherlode: child care

KJ Dell’Antonia on Motherlode, points to issues of subsidized childcare.

“It sounds cheesy, but in many cases, these truly are the pillars of their communities. They do after-hours, 24-hours, emergency care. They’re providing the infrastructure that isn’t there for these working parents.” It’s a cobbled-together structure that both employees and ultimately their employers have come to rely on — but the caregivers who create it aren’t compensated or recognized as the resource they’ve become.”

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Stamps & Safety?

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Motherlode

A great article by KJ Dell’Antonia on the Motherlode about cartoon stamps, hyper-safety and over-parenting.

“These are the well-meaning attempts of empathetic, concerned, careful, thoughtful adults to protect our children, but it’s striking that, as a culture, we’re working so hard to protect them from exactly the experiences that helped us become adults ourselves. We learn from making mistakes, even big mistakes. We learn from the things that go wrong, that aren’t fun, that leave us thinking hard about how something could be better. A few of us even learned how valuable those helmets and shinguards are by having an accident while not wearing them. If you never learn where your limits are, it’s hard to learn to respect them — or to transcend them.”