Watch your daughter trying to answer this question for herself – in changes to how she dresses, in the way that she behaves, in what she says, and in what seems important to her. . .
If you don’t help your daughter to answer this question for herself, others surely will.
Whilst some of the guiding influences are good ones, not all will be. We all garner our sense of what is expected of womanhood from : our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, godmothers, mother’s friends, teachers, peer group, older girls, films, television, advertisements, books, magazines, websites, computer games, and other media.
How did you know when you were a woman?
Was it when:
- You had your first period
- You had your ears pierced
- You began to wear make-up
- You had your first relationship
- You first had sex
- You opened your own bank account
- You landed your first job
- You moved out of your parental home
- You got married
- You gave birth for the first time
Of course, there is no single defining moment, but many women remember some event which made them realise that they had taken another important step towards womanhood.
My concern is that we no longer provide our children with clear markers to indicate that they are progressing along their path towards adulthood. Every teenage girl longs for affirmation that she is on her way towards becoming a woman. Teenager girls often don the clothes, make-up, and mannerisms of a women mistakenly believing that this makes her so. Appearance is such a small part of what it means to be a women, but who is there to teach our daughters this?
We can be. We can spend time with our girls, in the company of other women, doing things that you enjoy together. We can talk about what it was like for us, growing up through our teenage years. We can tell them our stories. We can remember aloud important events that for us marked our progress towards adulthood. We can allow them to overhear and join our conversations, woman to woman.
This way she will learn what it is to be a woman.
And if we can find small ritualistic ways of acknowledging as our daughters pass certain gateways then she will know that she is on her way towards becoming a woman.