Teaching Our Daughters to Speak Up

first day school 2014 2Unlike the rest of the country who all went back to school in August, my three cute kiddos started school just two weeks ago.

First, let me tell you, this is the first time ALL THREE OF MY CHILDREN have been at the same school!!  Pumpkin is going into the 6th grade.  Peanut is going into the 4th grade.  And the Bean is going into Kinder.  I am beside myself.  We are working with ONE school calendar.  ONE drop off.  ONE pick up.  ONE place to volunteer.  ONE principal.  I hardly know what to do with myself, I’m that ecstatic.

A few days before school started, Peanut learned she did not get into a class with the teacher of her choice.  She tried to wrap her mind around it, to look on the bright side, but the sweet thing cried for almost two hours.  She had her heart set on the same teacher her big brother had two years before.

I was in a pickle.  Do I be one of ‘those moms’  and send an email and request a change of classes?  Or do I take her out to ice cream, snuggle her all afternoon, distract her with an art project, and hope the disappointment fades?  rey 2

me and Rey 3

Photos by: Jason Watts Photography

Photos by: Jason Watts Photography

I kept going back to the question: what is the best thing for her growth here?  Is the best thing for Peanut to learn to accept what she’s been given?  Or is the best thing for her to learn to advocate for what she wants?

After talking with a few girlfriends, I decided to send an email to the administration, sharing a little bit about her disappointment and fishing to see if there was any option for a change.  They most graciously put the ball in Peanut’s court.  If she wanted to change classes, they would accommodate her.

When I told my girl about the option for the switch, I assumed she’d bounce off the walls with enthusiasm.  After all, the school was letting her have her choice.  It seemed too good to be true!  But Peanut, who is both compliant and a people-pleaser began to sob big crocodile tears.  With her head hung low, she whimpered, “If I switch classes, other people will know I asked to switch.  And that will hurt feelings of the other students in the class.  And that might make the other teacher mad at me.”

I wiped her tears and gave her permission — permission to ask for what she wanted and not worry about how it might seem to other people.

“Sweetheart, don’t feel guilty,” I reassured.  “It’s going to be ok.  They are giving you a CHOICE.  Don’t feel guilty about your choice.  If you want to switch, let’s switch!  The other students will still be your friend no matter what class you are in! The other teacher will not get mad at you.”

Then her whole chest heaved and she burst into crying: “I DO, Mom. I doooooo want to switch. I want the other teacher so bad.”

“OK then let’s switch!” I told her.  “Way to make a tough decision!  Let’s tell the principal our choice, ok?  I’m so excited for you and the fun year you have ahead!”

And off we went, hand in hand, to talk to the administrator.

Since then, I’ve come to believe it is more important to teach our daughters to have an opinion and how to speak up than it is to teach them to be compliant.  We don’t need more ‘good girls.’  We need daughters who can stand up for what is true and right.  That morning she learned to speak up and say what she wanted.  She learned her opinion was valuable and worth fighting for.  I couldn’t be more proud.