Image via WikipediaThirty-three years ago, I looked down on my new-born daughter’s face and silently vowed to raise her to be a powerful woman. At the time, little did I know that I had embarked on an arduous but enlightening journey. There were all the usual challenges: boys to ward off, homework to be done on time, telephone calls to be limited to daylight hours, arguments to be had about whether a curfew was even necessary.
My biggest challenge, however, was to model the strength that I wanted her to develop. For example, I did not want her to be crushed when girlfriends let her down or to let criticism cut her to the quick, or to turn to counterproductive habits when she was stressed. But, in reviewing my own behavior in the early years I realized that I, on the other hand, had been guilty of all of these lapses; I had been inconsolable when I didn’t get my first “big “job, I had reached for excessive amounts of chocolate when I’d been blue, I had let criticism wound me repeatedly. To develop the resilience, strength and optimism that I wanted my daughter to have, I knew that I had to change the habits of a lifetime.
Looking back, I recognize the two things that would have helped me immensely. First, I wish I had joined the AAUW a long time ago. The company of smart, strong, supportive women would have helped me to develop an inner strength and a balanced perspective. Second, I wish my daughter could have taken advantage of girl-friendly events like our very own “Live YourDream” conference for seventh graders.
Still, I’m happy to say that my daughter has turned out to be a force to contend with. I talk to her about the AAUW, the great women I’ve met, our wonderful projects and the anxiety I feel about how much work still remains to be done. She talks to me about working in the male-dominated film–editing business, her dreams and her fears. We’re still muddling through that long journey that we started so many years ago but it is now filled with brilliant insights, touching moments and much more faith in ourselves.
For those of you who may be raising a seventh grade girl or know someone who is, please visit our website at www.aauwpoughkeepsie.org and please encourage as many girls as you can to attend the “Live Your Dream” Girls’ Conference.
This year’s conference on Saturday, November 6 will cover friendships, creative self-expression, girl power, writing and publishing articles, dealing with diversity in schools, fashion and self-respect. If you would simply like to volunteer at this event, come at 1 pm to help sign out the girls.
So, here’s to strong girls and stronger women. May our ranks continue to grow.
If you know a 7th grade girl in the Hudson Valley who could benefit from attending (and who wouldn't benefit?), please share the conference information with them.