I was raised by a single mother.
My grandmother was one of my greatest influences on who I am today.
I am married to a woman.
I am raising two daughters.
At the time of publishing, I work at a company owned and run by women.
I’m friends with women.
I dig women.
I’m all for the ladies doing stuff because I’ve never had the personal luxury of casting folks aside, let alone women, because of privilege or advantages I don’t really have.
But I don’t dare call myself a feminist. I’m just a guy who, through personal experience and exposure, thinks that women are just as capable and deserving as men.
Herein lies my quandary.
As a man who wants his daughters to be raised in an environment of equitable and fair treatment, who hopes they assert themselves and have a voice, and wants them to be strong willed and goal oriented, I’m conflicted when it comes to dealing with the rising tide of attitude I’m getting from my 5 year-old.
There’s a razor thin line between allowing a child to assert themselves and trying to contain the poor behavior of a brat and I’m not completely sure I’m willing to cede the latter to allow the former. It’s a hard line to toe in figuring out when you’re letting your little girl be a strong and when you’re engaging in a needless battle of wills against a child who just needs to be quiet and eat their vegetables. Sometimes you just gotta put your foot down and be a dad, but how and when do you do that with a little girl without coming across as a low grade misogynist?
I don’t want to break her spirit. I don’t want her to feel like I don’t want her to be her. I don’t want her to view me as the exemplar of a patriarchy trying to keep her from being great. But I do need her to stop jumping on the furniture, brush her teeth, and stop hugging her sister’s head.
Is it possible to raise a fierce girl child who’s ready to be like the women I know without ceding too much ground and unwittingly making a brat.
And I know, I know. Some of you at home are probably saying, “How is this any different than raising a boy?”
Well, it’s simple. If I had a son, first off he’d live in a world where people would expect him to assert himself and have no problems telling people who he is. Also, I’d be able to kick his ass.
Not literally and not at age five. But at some point I could exact physical dominance over the boy and let him know who’s the boss. Maybe a hard foul playing basketball, or maybe a “boxing lesson” in the basement, or perhaps even some mild hazing in the form of extraneous yardwork.
But my worry on a day like today, when we celebrate women, is making sure the women I’m responsible for raising turn out right.
Help me be the dad to these little girls I know I can be.