Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An independent woman

A few weeks ago, my 8 year old daughter, Rose, received her first phone call from a boy.

I was shocked and amazed at how smitten she appeared. It seems, however, that the affection was short lived.

At first, I thought he just wasn't being very nice to her. She wrote a song a little later about a boy not treating a girl right. She said she wasn't writing about him but relationships in general. Then, last week, he called the house to speak to her. The phone call was only a few minutes long.

"What happened? That was short," I asked her as she put the phone away.

"I didn't have anything to say. I told him that I don't want him to call unless I have something to say."

Um... O. K.

---

Here's the thing about raising two little girls as an independent, single mom....

They will most likely grow into two independent women.

That's not a bad thing, given the fact that they should hopefully find out who they are before deciding to marry. (Dear God, please...)

But let's also examine the relationship that Rose has with her father:

  • He has always traveled extensively with work, even when we were married, which left me as the sole disciplinarian. He didn't feel like being the bad guy after being gone all week. He would allow me to make the laws, with a few exceptions, while he would stand behind me and say, "Yeah! What your Mom said!"
  • He was closer to the silly court jester than he was an authoritative figure. And Rose is very intuitive with people. She knew that his role was to play, pick on her, make her laugh and fix things as only daddies can do.
  • He is still a softie when it comes to discipline. She doesn't even take him seriously when it comes to discipline. He is getting better but the fact is, I am around her on an everyday basis and he isn't. He wears down easily and she knows how to manipulate him to serve her needs.
  • I don't think she respects him at all. I'm not even sure that he shows them any respect. I do believe that children should be respected. A person's a person no matter how small.

Realizing that a girls' relationship with the opposite sex has much to do with her relationship with her father, I must surmise - from what I've seen so far - that Rose's opinion of boys (and subsequently, men) is as follows:

They are completely expendable, able to be used and discarded at will. They are to provide things for me and I can acquire these things by manipulating them to serve my purpose.

I have a completely different feeling about my sweet, lovable Grace. She was only 1 year old when her daddy left. I'm afraid that she may have abandonment issues and cling to the first man she falls for. (Dear God... please no...)

Of course, all of this is based purely on my perceptions, which are based on my own experience and skewed observations. Still, I think its a pretty astute observation... but I'm happy to be wrong.

---

How do I raise independent women to also have a respectful and loving relationship with a good man?

Maybe I have been guilty of modeling some of this behavior. I was told on a daily basis, from childhood, that men were worthless. My father didn't show me any respect and I didn't respect him at all either.

Rose, for the first 4 years of her life, saw her Mommy as someone who had to get things done with or without Daddy. I was very obsessive about the type of childhood she should have and didn't allow her daddy much say in it. I didn't trust his fathering skills. He didn't act like the father I wanted him to be... which would have been a different father than my dad was.

I didn't learn to trust him - to allow him to parent however he wanted - until way after we separated.

My children still see a Mommy as someone who gets things done. I do hope, however, that she sees me treating her father with more respect and love. I hope its not too late.

I'd hate to see her using men as pawns to get her way. People can joke all day long that my beautiful, charming daughter will be a heartbreaker but I also know that her heart can be broken too.

I suppose that all I can do is model a better and more respectful relationship with the love in my life now. I know that they have their own lessons to learn. Hopefully, I'm raising them to bounce back from whatever life throws their way.

15 comments:

  1. I was 1-2 when my parents divorced and I did/do deal with abandonment issues, but I didn't cling to the first person I fell for. I did have a tendency to fall fast and hard, though. However just as quickly as I got attached, I seemed to distance myself from them. Take that however you will. I'm sure you are setting an amazing example for your two girls. But remember, they will make their own mistakes and learn from them. As they grow older, they will help shape themselves as much, if not more than, you have shaped them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I like your introspective process a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm trying to raise three daughters with all these questions and more. How do I raise them to believe that all men aren't monkeys that will leave them for the next skirt that walks by? How do I get them to believe that marriages last when I couldn't make mine? I just pray every day that I'm shaping them to be independent women who make better decisions than I did.

    ReplyDelete
  4. T, I think about things like this all the time, too, in relation to my two daughters. I think that really, the only thing we can do is to keep modeling positive behaviour to them as much as we possibly can. We all make mistakes as parents...all we can do is try to do better now.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think, just follow your instincts and things will be ok. You are perceptive enough to handle the kids. They will surprise you anyway.

    Secretia

    ReplyDelete
  6. We just keep plugging along, doing our best, don't we? Somehow Rachel is already smarter than I am in the relationship department. She's the best of me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I just sent this post to my mom - because she too was a single independent mom, trying to raise my sisters and I the same way - strong, independent, successful - so I really found this one close to home, and refreshing and inspiring at the same time. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Or it could have just been a typical phone call between 8 year olds. ;)

    Aside from that, I know what you are saying. Since I have been a single mom raising 4 daughters for 8 years I think about these things all the time. However there are also SO MANY other factors that impact their lives that are beyond my control, their fathers being the biggest of them. Unfortunately their fathers are modeling some pretty poor behaviors but hopefully they will see that for what it is sooner rather than later.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree with Jolene, inspiring T. Very much so. <3

    ReplyDelete
  10. WOW this has made me think alot about Kiara!

    She is a flirt - its a little joke amongst those who know her. If there is a man she bats her eyelids and she gets what she wants (except with Plane Boy and it frustrates her) BUT she has been loyal to a little boy she goes to school with for 2 years now! She was adamant 2 years ago they were getting married and feels the same way now!

    Which is really how I am - I will flirt but once I have decided YOU are it - you remain it forever!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post. I think you're doing a fabulous job of modeling an independent woman for your girls. And how great that you have the awareness that you also could be modeling a positive way for that independent woman to treat men. Love it. Curious to hear how it goes.

    Men are not worthless or disposable. You know that, and it's great that you intend to show it to your girls.

    ReplyDelete
  12. jim Everson (Depot Dad)December 3, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    If you do a good job of only letting good male role models into your life, the girls will pick up on that. I wouldn't worry about it. You have smart girls and they will see the kind of guys you let into your life.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Remember when Rose was around 4 and her relationship with my 5 year old?!?!? Hilarious! Your kids are going to be fine.

    ReplyDelete
  14. With four girls and being a single father... I have thought about this quite a lot. My sixth grader has a boyfriend (whatever that means for a sixth grader) and I just cringe at that thought. Good, healthy, and loving relationships is what hope for, for them. Just 20 years from now, though!

    Did the passport come in for Rascal?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hmm. Tricky. This is the part of being a father to a daughter that fills me with dread, to be honest. Mind you, being a role model to my son is equally terrifying in different ways, come to think of it.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving me some comment love!