“Anything you can do I can do better”. We’ve all heard that song or seen the commercial, which contains a funny dialogue between a male and a female competing to do certain tasks. The latest commercial sparking a debate of “who can do it better” is the #LikeAGirl commercial from the brand Always. This commercial, which went viral before the Super Bowl but increased its reach on marketing’s biggest stage, brought the idea to the forefront that being a “girl” does not mean that you are weak. Throwing like a girl, running like a girl, or fighting like a girl have become stigmas that girls must overcome. Instead of simply telling girls they can break through stereotypes, why not help them redefine what it means to be “like a girl”? In order to do this, many believe that girls should learn traditionally masculine skills.
From G.I. Joes and Barbies to the colors pink and blue, kids are put into categories from the start. Boys are rambunctious, girls are sweet, the end. If you are looking to raise a girl who goes beyond society’s expectation, consider ways to help her learn skills typically reserved for their male counterparts. Exposing your daughters to “masculine” tasks at a young age will help build her confidence and independence as she grows up in an ever changing society. Here are a few “masculine skills” that are great for girls to learn.
Show girls how to perform yard work. This arduous task is often given to boys in families, while girls are asked to wash dishes. Show your daughter how to rake leaves, mow the lawn, or shovel snow! Since these are often jobs performed by dads, it will also provide them with some quality time in a shared experience.
Teach girls about cars. This is probably going to be more appropriate for older girls, but getting your young daughter comfortable around cars will help her later in life. When I was leaving for college my dad showed me how to check my oil and fill my windshield washer fluid. Most of my college girlfriends had no idea how to do such things, and had to ask strangers to help them. Even though I was interested in cars, my dad prepared me for being on my own and caring for my vehicle.
Involve girls in building things. Whether she has a blocks building set or you just purchased a new bookshelf, show her how to read directions, the names of tools, and let her help when safe. There will come a time in her life where she will need to build something on her own, probably a (frustrating) piece of furniture from Ikea. Teaching her key building skills at a young age will help her tackle tough projects with confidence.
Find a balance in heavy lifting. It is often seen as good manners to not allow a woman to lift heavy things. However, in real life, we need to lift things and they are often heavy! Encourage your daughter to try her best and praise her when she completes a heavy task. Find a balance in the gesture of relieving your girls from heavy lifting and empowering them to know they can complete any task they set their mind to.
Play sports with your daughter. In recent years, sports have become more open to girls. Mixed gender T-ball and soccer leagues are common for young kids. Mo’ne Davis redefined what it means to “throw like a girl”. Highlight female athletes to your children. Discuss it around the dinner table, praising their skills and hard work. After dinner, throw the ball or shoot some hoops with your daughter. I love my memories of playing basketball with my dad. We got to spend quality time together after he got home from work. Remember that not every child will be Mo’ne Davis, but every child can have fun playing with their parent.
Above all, speak positively about your daughter’s endeavors. We are all guilty of speaking stereotypes out loud, and kids hear, record, and remember everything we say. As the biggest influence in your daughter’s life, take the saying that television star and surprise Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez’s dad says to her every day: “I can and I will”. Encourage your daughters that in everything they do, to confidently say “I can and I will”, and praise them proudly when they are able to say “You told me I could, and I did.”