Beyond the Frills: Teaching our Daughters to Enjoy Sci-Fi
In an era where even Legos are segregated by sex, I feel it’s more important than ever to teach our daughters to expand their minds. There’s enough baby-doll-dressing-hair-and-nail-obsessing little girls out there, IMHO. I for one, want my daughter to go beyond societal norms and break barriers even I have trouble busting through. She can do it all in heels if she wants, dammit.
As you may have guessed, I was never much of a girly-girl. I climbed trees, threw a baseball better than half the boys on my block, and hated watching the mind-numbing sitcoms — even as a child. If I was going to stop the exciting thing I was doing to watch TV, it had better be good. In fact, I’m still that way. Sit me down in front of reality TV and I would gladly ram a hot poker in my eyeball. Life’s too short for that crap. You want some excitement? Make it yourself and stop living vicariously and voyeuristically. /rant
When I think back to my childhood, my parents never set out to make me into the person I am. They didn’t do anything extraordinary, or steer me in a direction of any kind. I was often left alone to my own devices and as a child surrounded by boys (I have two brothers and a bunch of cousins), it was only natural to do what the boys did. Besides, there was less drama, fighting, backstabbing and whining — so I was down with that. When I think about the parent I want to be — the mentor to my own daughter — I want to be more and offer more than my own parents did. I want to open her mind and let her explore more than pink crap and Hello Kitty if she wants to. The good news is, at 7 years old, I think it’s working.
All of these tips are great kids in general, but for the sake of this post, I’m keeping it strictly to empowering our daughters. I’m sure you understand. 😉
- Read the Right Books. I don’t care what age they are, read some great books to your daughters. Ones that take them to a new place and expand their already growing minds. Read Harry Potter at bedtime, or the Secret Garden. When their old enough, encourage her to read anything and everything. Shakespeare, Bronte, R.L. Stine — whatever. As long as she’s reading, she’s learning.
- Be Choosey with Television. Don’t watch TV for TV’s sake. Be choosey not only with your own shows, but with theirs. If mindless watching has become a thing, shut it off and apply tip #1. For tips as a family, sit down and watch shows that break the daily norms. Watch Dr. Who together or go to Netflix to relive to your glory days of TV by rewatching the greats: Stargate, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or even Quantum Leap with your daughters. I guarantee you, they will love the bonding time and mental expansion. Plus it gives you great fodder for conversations later.
- Encourage Creativity. Help them make up their own songs, or write their own books. My daughter is only 4, but she’s been “reading” her picture books for years already. Yes, years. She’ll take a book she’s heard me read and give an entirely new spin on it as she reads it aloud to me. I have to say, I love to hear her creative mind at work. Another tip: give them a pen and paper and let them create. Whether it’s origami, drawings, or a 3-D model; give your kids the tools and space to make something spectacular. They don’t need prompting from you, unless you want to give it. I’ve found however, just leaving them to come up with their own stuff is the most satisfying. (See below).
- Give Her “Boy” Toys. She takes her lead from you and those around her. Don’t let her sex dictate what toys she gets. If she likes Dr. Who — give her TARDIS Legos and build it together. Does she like math or science? Give her toys that help her expand on that. Engage with her and allow her natural curiosity take her all over the place.
- Be Her Mentor. Don’t just talk the talk. Moms gotta walk the walk and help her see a grown woman engaging in things beyond societal niceties. Be caught by her reading your own books with a science fiction bent. (And may I recommend my novel PENDOMUS as one such escape.) Talk about the big things with her — have a conversation about the world, where she thinks we’re going, or if there are ways she can see to make the world a better place. Her answers may surprise you. If they do, consider helping her find a way to make those recommendations a reality.
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Carissa Andrews is a Multipassionate MN Entrepreneur, Sci-fi Author, freelance writer, graphic designer and artist, unapologetic progressive, Lightworker, truthsayer, & occasional badass. Her YA science fiction novel Pendomus, is available now through Amazon. Though she’s often a headless chicken, occasionally, she has openings for freelance gigs. It never hurts to ask.