I've never been one to do adrenaline-pumping things like drive too fast or skydive. I prefer to push the limits in other ways. I question authority, Western medicine, our public school system, and just about everything that has rules and policy, because as cliche as it sounds, I've always felt like (certain) rules are meant to be broken, or at the very least, bent a little. And I'm raising my daughter to do the same. I want her to stand up, push back, and ask questions. I'm raising a little rebel, risk-taker, and strong and brave girl, who I hope will bend and break some of the rules.
What rules am I referring to? I'm talking about the ones our culture has set as a norm for us, especially for women and girls. I can't even think of the number of times I've pushed back on things when society told me I should just sit tight and be quiet. Boys are expected to rebel, fight, and get dirty, while girls are expected to dress up, nurture, be submissive, and behave. Not in this story.
Teaching only obedience without communication or question could land us all in a very scary situation. Protest is important. Questions should be welcomed. And disagreement allowed.
I've fallen down many times in my life, both physically and mentally, but I've always gotten back up. My daughter, just 2 years old, has begun this adventure of falling and learning. I'm resisting the urge to quickly shout "Be careful!" as she follows an older child climbing a tree or "Slow down!" as she runs full speed down a dirt path. It's not that I want her to get hurt; I want her to get a little dirty, take a few risks, and feel powerful. If she falls, I pick her up, wipe her tears, and tell her to keep going with things like, "You've got this!" and "Go, girl, go!" I'm learning to let go of the control a little, and as a result, her confidence is soaring. Her bravery is helping my bravery, and vice versa. Together, we inch a little closer to the edge so we can dangle our feet.
As she grows, I, of course, want her to show respect to me and to others. I want her to feel free to ask questions in a positive way, even if no one else is asking. If my child doesn't feel comfortable questioning the authority of her own parents, then she won't feel comfortable questioning things outside of our home. School, work, relationships — these are all places and situations where children should be welcomed to ask questions. "Why am I in trouble?" "Why am I being treated this way?" "Couldn't you have done this differently?" "Is this a law or just a rule?" Teaching only obedience without communication or question could land us all in a very scary situation. Protest is important. Questions should be welcomed. And disagreement allowed.
I know it won't always be easy to encourage her to rebel. It'll probably backfire on me a few times when she becomes a teenager, but I also know that it's so important. I'm not raising her to break the law, but I want her to do things like travel to unique places without an itinerary, go against the norm of going straight to college or straight into a job, and spend her money for a while before she saves it. I hope she finds herself in the Swiss Alps in September, the sun shining and the mountains in the distance covered in snow. I'll likely have to explain to her educators why I have taken her out of school for an extended period of exploration. And if she goes to college and studies abroad, I hope she skips class to take a weekend trip that energizes her soul. Heck, I'll even write her an excused absence note: "Sorry my daughter was not in class today. She was busy feeding her soul through adventure; the wind in her hair, her bare feet running through the grass, and her mind free to wander."
How will I maintain strength and balance trying to raise a rebel while also teaching the importance of kindness and respect? I haven't a damn clue. But I'm pretty sure parenting wasn't made to be easy. I'm an explorer. I am a limit-pusher. I'm rebellious. And that word isn't a bad thing. These traits of mine have built me up to be strong and brave, and I already recognize them in my daughter.
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