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Our Story Begins: Raising Girls

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Our Story Begins:
Raising Girls

Having my first child scared the hell out of me. I have to be brutally honest.

I was really young, just about 24 when my oldest daughter was born. I had only been married a year. I grew up in a house with two brothers. My poor mother was surrounded by testosterone but it was all I knew.

So imagine my surprise when, still thinking of myself – mentally – as a kid myself I found out that not only was I having a child but that child was a girl. Then my second, in one of those moments when the hormone tests comes back with what doctors called an “anomaly” I knew with 100% certainty was a girl. We’d had an amniocentesis.

My wife and I were told after major complications with my second child’s birth she would likely be unable to have kids again. That turned out to be wrong, of course, not only did we have another child, we had twins.

But once I had that first child, my little girl, and held her for the first time in my arms . . . I was completely done for. I remember it, to this day. The little girl was cleaned up, they laid her on her mother’s chest, and her eyes were looking right at me. She began opening and closing her mouth, the movement of a hungry baby just minutes into the world.

Related: Tales from a Twin Mom: 10 Things to Discuss with Your Twins’ Babysitter

Nothing I did throughout the years raising those girls ever told them or made them feel like there was anything about being a girl that should be different than if they were a boy. Don’t get me wrong, they met the challenges so many girls and women do in this life.

This week, though, my middle daughter gave me an insanely flattering compliment that made me realize that hadn’t treated them any differently.

“You never told me I couldn’t do anything,” my daughter told me.

I informed her that I always believed that she could do anything. If she wanted to be a rocket scientist and showed the inclination I’d have fully gotten on board with the idea. If she had no aptitude for science whatsoever, I would have steered her away, but not because she was a girl. I would have done it because, you know, she just couldn’t hack it in general.

“I wanted to play the guitar and you just looked at me and said ‘well then you’re going to have to learn and practice . . . a lot.”

I admitted I had said that very thing, a number of times.

“But I have friends who have people tell them all the time they can’t do things and it’s just because they are girls.”

Related: Our Story Begins: Quality Over quantity

I think it’s silly to tell your girls they cannot do something. My daughter may be one of the most talented musicians I know. My oldest is an amazing actress and director.

I never thought they needed to ‘Lean-In’. I told them – and I tell my sons – that they are who they are. They should never do less than their best nor should they act like less than the person they are for someone else.

It’s the greatest thing in the world to me that my daughter thinks that I supported her without reservation.

The fears I had about raising girls were not because of the thought that my girls would be less than the boys around them. It was that I worried I’d be thoroughly unprepared to help my kids succeed.

Imagine my surprise when my own daughter informed me that she believes I prepared her for anything the world may throw at her.

What about you? Do you give your daughters the support they need and deserve? Do you tell them there are things they cannot do?

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