I’ve spent the last few weeks figuring out the registry. I was glad I started about a month ago – it’s given me the time I needed to add and delete things, do a little research, ask a bunch of friends about their experiences. And as much fun as it is to think of darling sun hats, pink seahorses, and a killer stroller… there’s a lot more to think about when raising this here child.
I’m talking about values, with capital “V.” How are we going to raise this cutie pie? How are we going to instill in her the things I think are important, the things K thinks are important, the very things that will help give her a strong enough foundation to push against us and figure out what she thinks is important?
Do I only tell her she’s smart and brave, and not that she’s pretty? Because I’ve read about parents who do that in order to minimize the damage that Seventeen will do later in life. But then, will she think that she can’t be all of those things at once: beautiful, brave, and smart?
Do mothers of boys have to think about whether they’ll tell their son that they’re handsome? I don’t think raising a girl is more difficult than raising a boy, but I do think it’s different. When it comes to gender roles, it seems to me that girls get pushed into a slimmer version than their boy counterpart. She’s programmed to be nurturing – and I think there’s something intrinsic about that, but I don’t want to assume she’s going to be nurturing. So, do I avoid baby dolls and later, Barbies?
And, no matter what I do, I have to acknowledge that her dad is going to play a larger role than I will in forming some very important behaviors and beliefs about herself. I never doubted I was pretty – but then my father told me I was beautiful all the time… even in the years when all you could see was my giant snoz and dumbo ears. I always thought I was smart, but then again my dad went out of his way to ensure that I didn’t just hear I was smart, but that I engaged in activities where I could be smart.
I don’t want to take that for granted. I know we – as a parenting duo – won’t start from day one knowing how to instill in her things we think are important. Kindness, honesty, integrity, trust, faith, beauty, a thirst for knowledge, strength, tolerance, compassion – these are all things I want her to know, to consume and to live. I want her to think she’s both smart and beautiful, brave and kind, tolerant and filled with faith.
If only I could register for some of that stuff with the ease of a boppy pillow.