I'm Raising My Daughters to Be Wimps (and I don't mean to)

I cringe even saying this.

“If someone is doing something you don’t like, just ask them nicely to please stop.”


That’s me throwing up. That’s me hating myself for telling my daughters to act like demure debutantes when dealing with dickheads. That’s me puking over my piss-poor parenting skills.

I’m raising my daughters to be wimps. Wait, excuse my language there—what I mean is gutless, punk bitches—just like me. Phew! That’s more like it. (See, I’m such a wimp. I didn’t even put “punk bitches” in the title of this essay. Dammit.)

I write a good game of gutsy, gung ho, gangsta mom. I talk it and walk it. Hell, I flaunt my boldness like the Gucci fall collection during fashion week. Oh, but it’s really Fucci—the knock off. I’m wearing a fake suit of brazen armor. I rarely exercise assertiveness when face-to-face with a real live offending human being. My tongue is held hostage in trepidation.

Through my weak “words of wisdom,” I’m telling my daughters to be reserved, restrained. I bet that will play out reeeeeaaalll well for them in life. This is how it will go—cue the dreamy harp music and blurry camera shot.

A kid is pushing my daughter down a slide repeatedly. My kid feels scared that she’s going to fall. Because I encourage politeness, my daughter will turn around and say in her sing-songy voice, “Hey, so-and-so, I really don’t like you pushing me down the slide, I’d like you to please stop.” And it will all be very sad, because most likely, the other kid won’t give a fuck. The offending child will give my daughter another swift shove and she’ll fall down the slide head first, break her arm and bleed all over the bloody place.

The End.

Wow, let’s give me a round of applause for raising a wussy. A lover, not a fighter. A victim. Preserving politeness among parents on the playground is apparently paramount to my child’s safety and self-esteem.

As are many other women in our society, I have been groomed to be polite, even in cases where I feel offended to the core.I’m polite in scenarios where I’m being treated unfairly. And sadly, I’m polite even when I feel threatened. My instincts always run towards reticence in times of blatant discrimination or danger.

I should not put up with these gashes against me. I know this. And yet I do, because fear. Fear of losing. Fear of losing my job. Fear of losing friendships. Fear of embarrassing family. Fear of making situations awkward. Fear of being labeled as a “bitch” or the dreaded, “emotional woman.” Fear of losing my good reputation.

When someone is being aggressively assholey to me, I recoil. Like a coward. I lose my soul and sell it to the wimpy devil.

Worse, I’m raising my kids to be scaredy cat little suckers. And I hate it. I want to stop. Sure, I’ve stood up for myself when the Starbucks barista charged me too much for my cinnamon latte. But, what about the time a man cornered me at a rest stop while I was road tripping alone with my kids? They heard his inappropriate comments. They heard me panic with politeness. They saw me slip into our car like a skiddish wimp. What they didn’t see is a strong woman, or a tough mom.

I want to raise assertive and confident daughters. Daughters that would never put up with domestic violence from someone who claims they love them. I want to raise daughters that won’t put up with unfair treatment in the workplace. I want to raise daughters that feel empowered, and can speak up immediately—and profoundly and eloquently and emotionally—when they feel harassed. Even if they are shamed like Anita Hill and so many other female victims of injustice, discrimination, demeaning, and violence.

I’m ashamed to admit that I let myself fall victim to horrendous and hideous acts of harassment.

Yes, being a victim implies that I had no part in bringing it my way. And I didn’t cause any of these monsters to inflict pain on me. That’s their own doing. I didn’t do anything to cause my high school boyfriend to beat me up. He committed those disgusting acts all by his damn self. Fair enough. But, I did allow him to beat me up, mind-fuck me, threaten my life, and obliterate my sorry-ass soul, over and over and over again.

In my life, the same story has played out in various ways. It’s not uncommon.

I'm pretty sure I've almost been raped...twice. As in men were trying to force themselves on me WHILE I WAS SOBER. I "nicely" talked my way out of the first attempt. I ran and hid in the corner (fetal position) in a locked empty apartment on the second attempt from another man.

I had a boss that was so obvious in his unfair treatment of me, it was sickening. A piece of my soul died every day I reported to that job. I should’ve reported him to HR. I should’ve looked for a new job.

I was afraid of being the loser that lost her job when, really, I was the loser that stayed.

I could never be proud of my daughters if they submitted to dealing with workplace discrimination. I’d throw every feminist book at their heads. I want them to live in a world where inequality and harassment is actually reported, and laws are enforced.

I’ve become a victim of social media slander, sexism, and harassment in cyberspace. I’ve had readers go Rambo on me, releasing rapid fire bullets of hate and disgust for me, my writing, and my very existence. I’ve read internet rumors about me and my family. My family. I write about parenting for gawd’s sake.

I’ve had male readers ask  me where do you live? How old are your kids? Can we meet?  I’m supposed to just respond respectfully right? Keep my cool. Keep my precious, perverted readers.

Why, oh, why do I continue to be nice? It would be easy to just click the “block” button or the “report” button. Alas, I’m chicken shit. But, as they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. I do indeed. I’m a wussy. Shit, fine.

Let me clear my throat and make way for realness. I’m a soft sucker raising sissy victim daughters. I’m admitting my failures, so now I have to change myself for my kids. I have to undo my wimpy “words of wisdom” and replace them with statements. Strong sentences of self-empowerment. Syllables that aren’t soft, but rather, speak volumes about the kind of woman I want to be—the kind of women I want to be raising. I need to be modeling acts of assertiveness. I need to teach my daughters where the “block” button is. No women wimps here. Not, no mo’.

A version of this article originally ran on Scary Mommy in August 2015. Since the writing of this article, Missguided Mama has made good on her promise to do better for her girls. She hasn't put up with ANY bullshit since.

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