Contributed by Allison Schaffer
What I would give to be three years old again.
Life was simple back then. Your friends were your friends. In fact, everyone was your friend. The only things you had to worry about were the monsters under your bed.
Fast forward ten years and everything has changed. Girls find themselves worried about everything from their clothes to their grades to what their best friends “really think about them.” Monsters have morphed into “frenemies” – a complicated, exhausting relationship between girls who can’t decide if they hate each other or love each other.
For boys, friendships seem uncomplicated. You’re either friends or you’re not. Girls, however, experience many types of friendships, including the worst of the worst – the frenemy. The love-hate relationships between girls can leave many girls unsure of where they stand, leading to insecurities that could perpetuate an entire lifetime. How do things get so complicated so quickly?
A wise woman once told me, “Girls don’t learn how to be mean from other little girls. They learn to be mean from watching other women.”
The words stopped me in my tracks.
Although we may not realize it, we, as women, influence young girls even before they understand the word “influence.” Everything we say and do, whether it’s commenting on a stranger’s outfit or criticizing a colleague in a fit of frustration, has an effect on how the girls in our lives think they should act. Even self-depricating comments like “I hate the way I look” or “I’ll never get that promotion” influence our girls. In their eyes, we are the best of the best! They want to dress like us, act like us, and be like us. I believe that, girls can find strength in other girls. We need to build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Most importantly, we need to start with ourselves.
#GENispiration: Channel your inner toddler, instead of your inner mean girl
- Be honest
- Have you ever met anyone more honest than a toddler? We need to encourage our girls to be honest with themselves and their feelings, instead of lashing out in anger or jealousy.
- Be kind
- Above all, we must teach our girls to be kind. The easiest way to do this? Be kind to each other! Support and motivate the women in your life to be the very best that they can be.
- Be generous
- Whether it’s with compliments or your time, be generous in building up the women and girls in your life.
As part of the Girls Empowerment Network, it’s our duty to help our girls combat some of the most prevalent issues in our schools today – self-esteem, depression, and insecurities. Let’s channel our inner toddlers and use honesty, kindness, and generosity to help our girls see themselves and their friends, frenemies, and everyone in between, in the very best light.
Allison Schaffer is an experienced communicator, former broadcast journalist and self-proclaimed “people-person.” A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, she currently works in Development Communications at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Allison is a passionate supporter of many causes and volunteers with several Houston-area non-profit organizations, including Camp For All, Texas Children’s Hospital, the Houston Junior League, the Houston Community ToolBank and of course, the Girls Empowerment Network (GEN). Above all, she strives to make a difference in the lives of children who aren’t afforded the same opportunities as others and truly believes that each and every person can make a difference