Tales I Tell My Daughter: Dispatch from this New America
I went into parenting my first born earnest and well intended. Thinking, my kids won’t play with plastic toys, eat sugar except on special occasions, won’t know soda exists, won’t use a screen until they’re old enough to buy their own and so on. Since then, I’ve made a million concessions and my parenting style is looser and less idealized than I originally thought. Where I have been relentlessly vigilant is in the beliefs I share with my daughter night after night when we are snuggled up and her sleepiness allows her to believe everything I have say.
I worry that I’ve been wrong about many of the beliefs I’ve shared with her. Am I liar? Am I delusional? Am I stupid? Naive? Crazy?
What responsibility do I have to retreat from my beliefs and recalibrate for a new America that may not hold them true or dear?
I have told her, “Girls rule! You can be anything! Anything you want to be!”
Maybe that’s the case if what you want to be is not President of the United States. Or CEO of a FORTUNE 500 company (unless you are one of the very elite 23 who are as opposed to the 477 who aren’t). Or be a Venture Capitalist (unless you are a super baller like Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee or one of the small number of exceptions in this largely male space). Or be on a corporate board. Should I caveat with, “you can certainly be anything you want to be as long as it’s maybe not any of these things?”
I have told her, “Fortune favors those who are prepared. Always work hard. You don’t always have to be the smartest person in the room but you do always have to do the work.” Maybe that doesn’t really matter. Like her or not, Secretary Clinton was prepared. She worked hard. She knew the answers and had the experience. But that didn’t ultimately matter much.
I have told her, “Don’t brag. Be humble. Be proud of your accomplishments, but don’t boast. Have confidence, but not swagger.” Yet, bravado is where it’s at these days.
I have told her, “You’re always part of a team. Sometimes that team is your camp friends or your sports team. Sometimes the team is your own family. Sometimes the team is our country.” With a President-elect who claims that he “can do it all himself,” it’s hard to see the ability to work well with others as critical in this new America.
Target is selling Presidential Barbies for 50% off today. Do these beliefs for my daughter also need to be discounted by 50%? I sure hope not.
Before bedtime tonight, I need to regain my confidence in the beliefs I’ve held so dear. And hope that this new America won’t dash the dreams we’ve dared our girls to dream.