I Want my Daughter to be Strong Confident and Happy

Lately, I’ve been hearing and reading about little girls who want to be ‘fierce’, or mothers who want to raise their daughters ‘fierce’.

“What does that mean?” I asked one child innocently.

“I can do anything!” she said with a huge confident grin and pumped her arm in the air while she kick-boxed with her foot.

“Yes you can,” I said with a huge smile.

“I can do anything,” is so empowering.  It isn’t the first time it’s making the lips of youngsters.  Forty-one years ago UN proclaimed 1975 as the International Women’s year.  The chosen theme song was Helen Reddy’s ‘I am Woman’.

“I am woman, hear me roar” took to the airwaves, raising the consciousness of everyone who heard it.


“Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman”

That little girl today is a product of generations of women that followed Helen’s empowering call.

I decided to approach some local mothers and grandmothers to understand what they thought about a little girl proclaiming “I am fierce. I can do anything!”  This was not a formal study by any means; it did, however, lead to some stimulating conversations!

Everyone agreed that the statements were empowering. They liked the intent, but politely hesitated before commenting on the choice of words selected.

The big stickler for most of the women I spoke with was the use of the word ‘fierce’.  They felt it was negative, combative and warlike.  They felt it unintentionally gave permission to girls, and boys to be aggressive in their behaviour and, in certain circumstances, violent and hostile towards others in order to push through life’s challenges or obstacles and to go after what they wanted.

The women that liked the word ‘fierce’ weren’t thinking of aggression and violence when they saw little girls using the word.  To them, fierce meant spirited, energetic, fearless and take-charge; someone who was tough, head-strong and would be able to fight their way through all that life had to throw at them.

“I want that for my daughter too, but in a different way,” said one mother when I explained to her the ‘intent’ behind the word ‘fierce’. “I want my daughter to be strong, confident and independent; I want her to be able to take on life’s challenges with courage, resourcefulness and resiliency.”

Only one young mother raised a question about the statement “I can do anything.”  She wondered if these words were setting up a child to experience unrealistic expectations and entitlement.  Life wasn’t an entitlement – it was a privilege. It was about working hard and being able to skillfully handle rejection and opposition without becoming overly devastated or acting out in anger and violence.

I bet if I’d been able to invite all these lovely ladies to my home at the same time, we would have had such a fun afternoon together!  For all their different ways of expressing it, for all their different natures, they all seemed to want similar things for their daughters.  In addition to what’s been stated so far, they wanted their daughters to be (their words, not mine):

  • Vibrant,
  • Healthy
  • Loving
  • Caring and compassionate
  • Respectful and considerate toward others, regardless of who they were
  • Patient
  • Forgiving
  • Self-disciplined
  • Tenacious
  • Balanced
  • Daughters who will not shy from speaking-up for themselves and others; speaking their minds assertively, not aggressively.
  • Accepting of other people as they are; non-judgmental.
  • Daughters who are not ashamed of who they are, but rather loving their own unique selves; loving themselves wholly for who they are and what they looked like.
  • They want their daughters to understand that who they are is valued. It’s not because of what they make, where they live, what they have or do not have.

Above all, they wanted their daughters to be happy.

I’m grateful for the mothers and grandmothers who took time from their busy schedules to delve deeper into the subject when I asked my question (s).  I enjoyed each of our conversations and found myself enlightened by their insights.  Thank you all.

 

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17 thoughts on “I Want my Daughter to be Strong Confident and Happy

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  1. Having raised two daughters and a son, I wanted each to feel empowered to take on the life they wanted to pursue. I have one daughter who is both a science writer and a dance instructor; another daughter who lives the “Montana” life fly-fishing, rock-climbing and river-rafting; and a son who enjoys meeting new people and building up entrepreneurs as a psychologist. I think the “you can do anything” idea comes with a reality check in that it takes work, but also support. I can’t do it for them, but I can give them the thinking and values that open the path. What an interesting dialog to have!

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    1. The side-bar discussions have been fascinating as they tended to branch into so many different directions! I was talking to a 30’s something small business owner the other day. She felt we need a little aggressiveness now and again. When I delved a little deeper, she discovered that when she said aggressive, she really meant assertive, but aggressive seemed to ‘sound’ better. Hah… our use of language is evolving again! I agree Charli, we are lucky if we’ve successfully given our children the problem-solving skills and values so they can live their own lives fully. I’d say you achieved it well. 🙂

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  2. Thanks Kate, this is an excellent post. And what a wonderful thing you did, casually interviewing those mothers and grandmothers, giving them a voice, and empowering them, through your sharing. I too find the word “fierce” difficult as my first response to it is “scary”. I agree with the intent of its use though, and how I love that song by Helen Reddy. Perhaps fierceness was, and still is, necessary to get the message across. I don’t think we need to quietly accept what we are given. I think we need to see where there is room for improvement and take action to make the changes necessary. I love hearing about the steps that you take.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh, thanks Norah for your kind words. I agree, we don’t need to be passive in our acceptance of what we are given. Indeed there are different ways to implement change and in this, I believe our personal values play an important role. These values influence our behaviour. In turn, they become the canvass our children learn from.

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