Raising a daughter not to be 'nice'


This kid sounds fucking awesome.




“Birdy” is, uh, 10 years old. Ms. Newman might want to give a listen to Nancy White’s “Daughters of Feminists.” Because, speaking from my experience as the feminist father of two daughters, she is very likely to get a rather large & unpleasant surprise in two or three years…


Yes, I read the linked article. I’m still conflicted about the whole thing. Not sure if the mom wants the daughter to be a complete hard-ass, cynical island. Or not? And what the heck is up with the name “Birdie”, either way. I don’t know, I’ve never lived in NYC, so I’m unqualified to comment.


It’s probably best to let a child develop their own set of right/wrong. Chaotic neutral - still the best alignment.


The sentiment is laudable, but girls before puberty are very, very different in their outlook and interests than girls 15-17 years old. So, bragging about your 10 year old not being interested in looks is rather pointless - at that age most girls aren’t.


On the right, they teach their children to reject science, and preach abstinence only. On the left, they teach their children to reject civility, and to blithely belittle anyone who still finds themselves in accord with traditional gender preferences.

It’s a shame the extent to which otherwise thoughtful parents will turn their children into political talking points.

Of the two, I’d guess the narrow mindedness of the right is easier to overcome than the misanthropic navel gazing of the left.


Since you mentioned it:

I also agree with @jcstrabo – everything I have learned about parenting tells me that I don’t know a single damn thing about any age other than the ages I have personally lived through with my own kids. And even then I’m not completely sure. Right now that’s a maximum of 4 and a half.

Every age is so different and brings its own set of entirely new parenting challenges.


I always find it mildy irritating when parents brag about their kids. It’s like they’re saying my kid’s better than yours.

The other thing is religious parents will “brainwash” their kids into believing in God before the kid has made up there mind (society lends a big helping hand in this too). As an atheist i don’t want my kids to believe in God but i don’t want to “brainwash” them either. I really want them to make their own minds up and to develop into their own personalities. It’s really tough though. I have to drop nuggets of wisdom that make them question the religion their school is forcing on them. It’s a shame because as humans our natural tendency is to follow the crowd. I realise that i never had this tendency but my kids do.

Birdie sounds like she hasn’t developed into her own person but the person her mum wants her to be. Nothing to “brag” about in my mind.


I’m not sure how Catherine Newman became “the left,” but my parents are solidly liberal and they tought me to be pleasant and civil with everyone I meet, to embrace diversity, and to accept differing viewpoints with equanimity. I’m pretty sure your knee-jerk stereotype of the “the left” is severely off.

And in the interests of fairness, most of the folks I hang out with are fairly liberal, but the conservatives I’ve known have had no problem with either science or birth control. So…yeah.


An old Peanuts popped into my head:


Interesting how this quickly became about left-right, and parenting choices - not the pressures on girls to be “pretty” and “nice”, and the author’s clear hope that her daughter’s existing personality will be able to survive those pressures intact.


I’d say the opposite in practice, actually. At least from my personal experience of humans…

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I’m just reading a shit-ton of the mom’s baggage being projected here. Understandable and human, but I hope the mom sorts through it before the teenage years hit. Rather than looking at her daughter as the perfect version of herself, so her daughter will validate all the pain she came through and never really let go of.

Freaking ick, actually. Jesus Christ, her daughter isn’t some psychological experiment to prove how females should be, based on theories built on her mother’s scar tissue. This girl is a freaking human being to develop her own way.

And she will. Once again, though, her mom better sort her nonsense out. I expect and hope the worst that will happen is some uncomfortable teenage years they overcome later and never really talk about.


But 12 and 13 year olds grow up, too. Do not judge their final character by who they think they are too young. Children often bring tears of frustration to the eyes of their parents at 13 only to be great people at 20.


Well, do you think this “pretty and nice” pressure is something that upsets the average conservative?

I don’t know how you could think her pride in her de-gendered kids rings like a positive thing anywhere but the left. Granted, Boing Boing is a small world, but I think we have all share a basic concept of where each side (at least on the extremes) stands on gender norms.

But I’d guess we’re all familiar with the tendency for folks outside of the political mainstream insist that they sit squarely in the objective center on things like gender identity, death panels, intelligent design, veganism.

This girl may be a fantastic kid, but the conflation here of mom’s politics and uncritical assessment of her own kids makes for a pretty stinky brew to me.

Do you not see yourself insulting every woman who is pretty and nice here? They are fake? The only way to be real is to be ugly and unpleasant? To make it hard for other people to like you?

The mere existence of other human beings that want things from you does not destroy your personality – not nearly so much as the sociophobic insistence that one’s personality is under constant threat by others. (You do impressive work avoiding cognitive dissonance when you read this story about a child being molded into a political statement by her mother, and see someone whose personality has escaped social pressure)


You’re right. I was really talking about the extreme ends of both sides. Even then, it’s very specific, overly politicized parents who want to push their gender or religious politics into every aspect of their own, and their children’s being.

Like I said in another comment, this girl might be fantastic. The story though, stinks of uncritical pride, and overbearing gender politics intruding on the life of her child.

I imagine I’ll some day be far too proud of my own kids, unjustifiably – but I hope I won’t be bragging on how they exist of manifestations of my own political beliefs and personal baggage.

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That song was excellent, thanks for sharing. :smiley:


Dang you kicked the crap out of those straw men! Go gettum!