"there is no more powerful antidote to the pressure to be perfect than a mom who can burp the alphabet."



Today, a guest post from Rachel Simmons, whose book The Curse of the Good GirlRaising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence is newly out in paperback. At my sons’ school recently, the principal was talking about the popularity of potty humor among boys my sons’ age. “Of course they’re going to do that, but it’s of paramount importance that you, as a parent, not participate,” she said, to many nodding heads. And I was sitting there thinking: Really? Cause my “toot” material (what we call passing gas) always kills at dinner time. And they also love it when I burp and then blame them. Am I not supposed to do that anymore?

Here’s a honest-to-goodness expert saying that a mom who can burp the alphabet is the very best kind– because that’s a mom who will teach her daughter it’s okay to be imperfect. Just the message I needed to hear today! 

Breaking the Curse of the Good Girl: 5 Ways Moms Can Help Girls Be Themselves
By Rachel Simmons



1. Get in touch with your inner Goof
Girls of all ages say they’re most in touch with their true selves when they’re being silly, crazy, loud, or goofy. By late elementary school, your daughter is likely to hear peers deem silliness “lame” or “immature;” these girls perceive that acting older will make them cooler. When girls shut down silliness, they restrain themselves physically. They begin disconnecting from who they are in order to try to be something they’re not. Step in to fill the void and keep silliness alive. Whether it’s singing in the car at the top of your lungs, dancing like no one’s watching in the kitchen, or making ridiculous faces and noises, just do it: let go of the “be perfect” rules and dork out together. There is no more powerful antidote to the pressure to be perfect than a Mom who can burp the alphabet.

2. Say no and speak up
Your daughter lives in a world that tells her Good Girls are nice 24/7, no exceptions. In a peer culture that avoids conflict, girls don’t get permission or learn skills to say no. These are crucial muscles you want your daughter to have: the ability not just to know what she’s feeling, but to act on it. Think about the last time your daughter heard you speak up and challenge something or someone. Show her how it’s done: assertively and with respect. Warning: expect embarrassment. I used to want to throw myself under a bus when my mom sent cold French fries back to a restaurant kitchen for re-heating. Fifteen years later, I sent them back myself — and thanked my Mom for the permission she gave me.

3. Get comfortable with your limits
Good Girls are expected to be flawless: not a hair out of place or math problem wrong. All that pressure can make a girl terrified of mistakes. The next time you screw up, gauge your reaction and consider the example it sets. Find your sense of humor if you can. Barring that, avoid labeling yourself in front of her (“I’m such an idiot”) or making sweeping predictive statements (“I’ll never get this right”). Point out the silver lining of your mistakes (there’s always at least one). Show her errors aren’t the end of the world. Bonus point: Take healthy risks with or in front of her. Anxious about that first spinning class? Worried about that next leap at work? Take it, and tell her about your nerves. Even if it doesn’t pan out, she is watching a mother who’s willing to fail. No one makes it big by playing it safe, and your example will give her permission to take the risks that yield the most exhilarating rewards.

4. Be a little selfish
The Perfect Mom culture is suffocating. It suggests truly good mothers put everyone’s needs before their own. But the rules of being a Perfect Mom are directly at odds with the example most women want to set for their daughters. Laurie’s 12 year old confronted her. “Mom,” she said, “Why don’t you go to that dance class you want to take? All you do is take care of us.” Laurie was horrified. “What kind of example was I setting? That my life is all about everyone else?” She made it a point to take the class — even if it meant not being there to drive every carpool shift or help with homework. Letting your children down isn’t easy, but the long-term, big picture message they get is: I’ve got a mother who takes care of herself and leads a balanced life. In other words, one of the best gifts you can give your daughter is to 
take something for yourself.

5. Share Your Feelings
Myth: Just because girls have lots of feelings means they’re really good at knowing and expressing them. Truth: Not only do girls often struggle to know what they’re feeling; many describe feelings as nuisances that make you look lame or weak, just like boys! Girls who communicate their feelings let others know what they need and are less likely to lose control over their behavior. What you can do: use emotion words in front of your daughter to model your comfort and build her own emotional vocabulary. Say how you’re feeling (remembering to leave out the stuff daughters shouldn’t hear, like “I am feeling really angry at your father”). Ask her how she’s feeling. Instead of asking, “How was your day?” try “How are you feeling?” If she says “Fine,” say, “Fine-happy? Fine-worried? Fine-excited?” Knowing and saying how you feel is a powerful channel to our true selves, not to mention successful relationships.


© 2010 Rachel Simmons

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous October 23, 2010 at 5:17 am

Can you put up a video on Youtube highlighting your burping alphabet skills? Thanks in advance!

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Lynnelle October 23, 2010 at 2:41 pm

So I'm guessing some people wouldn't approve my little princess singing "twinkle twinkle little poop?"

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paolouche October 23, 2010 at 9:35 pm

I agree although I would apply it all to my daughter and my son.

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Assisted Living Information October 25, 2010 at 2:07 am

Yeah! Lets see the burping! Haha!
I agree 100% with the 'fine' word. I have always thought of 'fine' as a word used when a girl is upset but doesn't want to share her feelings. It's definitely not a good response. It's more of a 'I'm in a bad mood and I want you to ask about it' type of mood.
Let's see your burping ability!

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Courtney October 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Oh, I love this. As I am goofy with my daughter, and silly, and SO not perfect, and I don't expect her to be perfect. And there is a lot of "potty" humor in our house. Sometimes too much.

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Amanda October 26, 2010 at 5:09 am

Love this! I'm new to the blog world and I love that I found your blog. As a mother of two daughters, I really enjoyed reading this. I especially like what you wrote about taking time to be selfish sometimes…It is important to show our kids that we have goals and do things to make ourselves better. I think it would be fun to read your book for our book club!

Amanda

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Amy Wilson October 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm

You're right, Paoluche, there's no reason these can't apply to sons as well. Good thing I burp in front of them too.

As far as the alphabet burping video requests- sadly, that's not MY skill, that's guest poster Rachel Simmons' skill (whether real or imagined). Rachel, if you're reading this, will you post a video of this talent?

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