She didn’t mean anything by it – she’s a woman, and that’s what she’s always been told by the world around her. Boys are built for strength, girls are not.
Girls are built differently, it’s true. But they most definitely are not weaker than boys, and it’s time we stop telling them that they are!
I teach many girls who are way stronger than some of the boys in the class. Girls who can do twice as many push ups as the boys, and who do them better, with more precision and accuracy.
I used to teach a whole school of about 800 girls, and saw daily evidence of how girls could be stronger, fitter, more tenacious, and more courageous than many of their male counterparts.
As a teacher working with girls, and a father and uncle to strong little girls, I really think it’s time for us to stop telling girls that they’re delicate little waifs, who should leave anything requiring muscles to the boys.
The world is changing – in fact, it’s changed already! Girls who think their place is to step back because boys are stronger, are going to get left behind.
Girls who learn that it’s ok to be strong, able and confident, are the girls of the future. If you’re raising a girl, isn’t this who you want her to be?
Girls who learn that they are strong in their body, learn that they can be strong in their mind too.
Girls who are taught that they can learn to do push ups just like the boys, learn that perseverance pays off, and that they can accomplish anything the boys can if they’re willing to try.
And more importantly, they learn that they’re not less than boys, they’re equal, sometimes better, and definitely just as worthy of respect.
I believe that you can be caring, nurturing and sensitive, while at the same time strong, tenacious and courageous. We don’t need to teach our children to choose one set of characteristics over the other.
So here’s my challenge for you. Take a good look at the intentional and not so intentional messages you’re sending to your girls every day. Ask yourself where you’re saying or implying or demonstrating that girls are weak and boys are strong, that girls must step back, and boys must lead. Then stop yourself, and make an effort from this moment on to change those habits.
Also, this is something we need to be talking about more. I challenge you to talk about how girls can be just as strong as boys with your children, your family and friends, your teachers and co-workers. This is a conversation that needs to happen, because girls who believe they are just as strong as boys, go on to be women who believe they are just as worthy, and capable, and deserving of respect.
If we can get this right, we really are raising a generation who can change the world.