When I found out I was pregnant, I immediately wanted a girl. Every time I said "I just want a healthy baby" I was lying. I wanted to have a daughter I could raise to be badass, strong, brave, and to shatter any glass ceiling or other manifestation of the patriarchy that got in her way. Then she was born, and I realized that almost everything I thought I knew about raising a girl was wrong. Looking back, there are definitely more than a few things I wish I knew then that I know now.
I thought I knew what I was doing, to be sure. After all, I am a woman, and I was once a girl myself. So I was committed to making sure that she didn't hate her body, like I did, or grow up thinking that she was less-than because she didn't look a certain way, wear the right clothes, or go along with the crowd, like I did. But when I had a daughter I realized that she and I are totally different. While I should be OK with that, I can honestly say that I sometimes have a hard time with it. I mean, how can I teach her that brains are more important than beauty, when it seems like everyone else on the planet sends her a different message?
Then there's the fact that raising a girl is scary. I am constantly questioning whether or not I can keep her safe. As a mom, and as a survivor, I view statistics about things like sexual violence and bullying through a new, more nauseating lens. This world is terrifying, and I'm not entirely sure I can adequately prepare her to face that terror. For example, I had no idea that I would be afraid to send my daughter to school or let her play with her friends, but I am. So, yes, raising a daughter is so much harder than simply passing along my feminist values, and there are so many things I wish I had known before I had held my girl in my arms, including the following: