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How To Raise The Future Female President Of America

{The author with her mom at the baby shower for her daughter}

Heels in the Hills’ resident mommy blogger Barbara King is saving my butt, taking her series on motherhood in Los Angeles to a weekly post while I pack my life into boxes and renovate a house built in 1939. Lucky for me (and you, because she is hilarious and brilliant), she will be here every Thursday for the next few months. THANK YOU BARBARA. Here is her advice on how to raise a strong, independent, self-confident daughter…

In lieu of the recent primary election results I’ve decided to scrap the silly, fun blog post I was going to write and get real for a second. Hillary Clinton is the very first female presidential nominee of a major political party and that means my kids have the possibility to witness the very first female American president. I think that is amazing. But, this isn’t really a post about politics – it’s a post about girls and their mothers.

I’m a mother of two: One boy and one girl. From before I was even pregnant I knew that if I had a daughter, I would be raising her in a world where she only gets about 7/10 the pay that boys will get, 7/10 the credit, 7/10 the opportunity. I would need to step it up as a woman in order to show my daughter that she can truly be and do anything she wants – even president of our country. When our daughter was born we gave her a strong, masculine name and I continued to do what I thought were the typical “feminist Mommy” things – held off on all things Disney/princess for as long as I could, enrolled her in soccer as well as dance, and encouraged her to climb, run, and get dirty at the park.

Despite my best efforts, my daughter still demands to wear dresses 32 days of every month and thinks marriage happens when a handsome prince kisses you. (“Luckily” she still climbs, runs, and gets dirty.)

How To Raise The Future Female President of America

{I said to my daughter, “You LOOK like a princess here, but who do you CLIMB like?” Her response: “A princess!” Well of course. And that’s why I need to just shut-up and let my daughter teach me about breaking gender stereotypes.}

I have now realized that raising a strong, confident girl isn’t as simple as dressing her in pants. There are thousands of articles online that teach us how to raise girls the right way: Don’t tell your daughter she is beautiful because she will value looks over intelligence. Don’t tell your daughter she is smart because then she won’t try hard. Don’t buy your daughter Barbies and don’t use ever the word fat. And on and on. Although I do find something useful in most of these parenting trends, I don’t meticulously abide by them. As a child, my mom told me I was beautiful every single day and guess what? I think I’m beautiful. My mom told me I was smart all the time and guess what? I think I’m smart and I still try hard. I was allowed to play with Barbies often and I don’t define myself by my sexuality nor did I consider counting calories or even a diet until after I had my second child. In fact, I believe I have a very healthy self-esteem. I love myself and think I’m pretty awesome.

What is it that my mom was doing right to pass on a healthy self-esteem to me in a society in which confident women is a rare commodity? This: SHE has a healthy self-esteem. SHE is strong and independent. My mom didn’t have to read any articles about how to raise a self-confident daughter because SHE was self-confident. It’s not really about the things we read online or hear on morning talk shows. It’s about WHO WE ARE as parents and the best thing that any mommy can do for her daughter is to love herself. Kids are extremely perceptive and parenting is the quintessential lesson of why “do as I say, not as I do,” just doesn’t work. You can choose to never say the words “beautiful” or “fat,” but if you are weighing yourself every morning – what does that mean? You can say “do it yourself,” but if you depend on others for your own happiness – what does that mean? I don’t think my mom is 100% responsible for my strength as a female and she certainly isn’t perfect, but I do think that she was the strongest female role model I had growing-up and she continues to be today.

How To Raise The Future Female President of America

{Getting ready on my wedding day with my mommy.}

Here is a list of a few things my mom did – most of them totally subconsciously – that I feel had a pretty significant impact on my own self-confidence.

My mom…

…never seemed to remember her “hair stuff” on vacations because looking good was always the last thing on her mind. I didn’t even learn that girls blow-dry their hair to “look good” (not just to dry it), until my senior year of college.

…had a two-minute or less make-up routine and rarely looked in a mirror. Although I LOVE make-up, I can also easily go weeks without wearing any.

…didn’t immediately rescue me in tough situations (on the playground or at school), because she trusted me to figure it out. And I always did.

… worked tirelessly alongside my dad as a business owner and yet she still cooked our meals, cleaned the house, and did the grocery shopping. Because women are superheroes.

…never owned a scale and never counted calories. She still tells me about the importance of full fat butter and the nutrition in potatoes.

…was never afraid to be different. In fact, she strongly encouraged it.

…embraced other cultures – whether volunteering at the annual Slavic Folk Festival or spending summers abroad – teaching me that respecting others goes hand in hand with self-respect and self-love. *Not to mention: In Europe we could swim naked. Running around as a 6-year old naked on the beach kind of strips you of any sense of shame about your body. And seeing women in their 70s bare-breasted as they laid out taught me that women were beautiful at any age and any size.

…walked everywhere before she got her license as an adult, but never referred to it as working-out.

…volunteered at least once a week (eventually becoming President of both our local Rotary Club and Altrusa International), dragging my brother and me along to sell UNICEF cards on the snowy street corners and work booths at the Special Olympics.

…gave me an ugly middle name. OK, it’s not that ugly, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like Isabella or Rose. It’s my mom’s very-Slovenian sounding maiden name. She did it because when she married my American dad she thought she HAD to take the man’s last name. This pride of who I am as a woman is one of the main reasons why I chose to keep my maiden name. I don’t need to change anything about myself for a man.

…enrolled me in flag-football and gave my brother dolls.

…made many mistakes, and yet always owned them and apologized because no woman is perfect and no reason we should pretend to be.

…never once doubted me.

I am so thankful for such an incredible role model and am especially grateful that I can still talk to her every day, sometimes multiple times. I hope I can be as good of a mom and raise my kids to believe they can be anything they want. Right now my daughter wants to be a Mommy, Cooker (Chef) and Scientist. And she can, because girls can be anything they want. Just look at Hillary.

Lastly, a friend of mine just posted a conversation she had with her son about Hillary Clinton potentially being our future president. He asked her, “Can a boy be president?”

Can. A. Boy. Be. President. Wow, things HAVE changed.

And yes, of course a boy can be president…if the girls let him.

Barbara King-Wilson is an actress and writer living with her family in Los Angeles. Follow her @TheBarbaraKing and visit her at www.barbaraking.com!

More from Barbara:

Dear Cool Mom At The Park…

So, Preschool Graduations Are A Thing Now

How I Didn’t (But Really Did) Find The Perfect School

10 Things That Cost The Same As Private School In L.A.

Three Schools You Can Only Find In L.A.

26 Questions To Ask On A School Tour

How I (Almost) Lost My Mind Applying to My Kid’s Elementary Schools

10 Questions L.A. Kids Have Asked Me

3 Signs You’re Ready To Be A Mom

Mommy Choices

2016 Resolutions Reality Check

My Minor Obsession with the PERFECT Holiday Photo

  • Heidi Hawk

    I don’t have kids yet myself, but this article fully affirms everything that I want to do with my future child. What a beautiful article Barbara!

    • Annie

      Right?! She is my role model. Seriously the best mom (and so is HER mom, so it’s no surprise.) Thank you for reading, Heidi!!!

    • Oh thank you so much Heidi! I will tell you, there is SO much thrown at us moms through the media and friends and doctors and magazines and the list goes on. So really, in the end, you just have to BE TRUE to yourself, which I hope is what comes across in my writing :) Thanks so much for reading!!

  • erika

    LOVE this B! Your writing style, the topic…everything…Brava, young lady!

    And I think your mom is pretty amazing too! :)

    • Annie

      Isn’t she the best?!?! (Jana too!!)

    • Thank you Erika. That means SO MUCH coming from you – a pro writer and editor not to mention an incredible mom :) I’m sure there has to be some (or a lot) of this that you can relate to – you have raised an extremely independent, confident, talented young lady who is not afraid to go against the grain and follow her dreams. Brava to YOU!


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