This week is a busy one for me, so I’m turning the blog over to some other fun humans while I get caught up on life.
Today’s post comes from Mrs. and Mr. Chaos over at Cutting Through Chaos.
Side note: Doesn’t “Mr. Chaos” totally sound like a James Bond villain? Wait, don’t click away yet! Mr. Chaos is the opposite!
I first started chatting with Mr. Chaos over the internet last year and found him to be a thoughtful and interesting person. And then I met him in person and found that all of my preconceptions were completely correct. Mr. and Mrs. Chaos are top-notch folks who I’m very happy to call my friends. Plus, anyone who comes up with the title “Poo-
Side note #2: The dinosaur artwork is from Mrs. Chaos! If I was twice the artist I am now, I’d still only be 25 percent as good as her. Love it!
Take it away Mr. Chaos!
I’m not half the ‘man’ I used to be
Before you jump to conclusions based on the title of this post, it is NOT about my emergency vasectomy – more about that another day. Perhaps. It’s only been a year and everything is still a little raw. The MEMORIES. Just the memories! And before anyone points out there is no such thing as an ‘emergency’ vasectomy, You. Are. Wrong. When you have an ‘equipment malfunction’ during a ‘date night’, and Mrs. Chaos threatens to cancel further ‘date nights’ until it is medically impossible for her to get pregnant again (we already have 4 kids!), that is called an EMERGENCY vasectomy. But given our stories of dealing with our kids – whether it’s the poo, or the tooth fairies – you’ll no doubt be wondering why this wasn’t taken care of earlier.
So with that out of the way, we can get back to the click-bait headline.
How do you raise a daughter?
Raising a daughter can be tough when The World indoctrinates girls with what they can and can’t do. You need to look pretty, have a career and be a super mom, all at the same time. And whatever career you choose, you’ll probably get paid less than the boys.
So how on earth do we raise our 7-year-old daughter so that she doesn’t listen to the limitations set for her by The World, and instead chooses her own path? Having a strong female role model like Mrs. Chaos for a mother is one step in the right direction.
But what are the things I can do as a father?
This is such a huge topic, that one post can’t do it justice. And Mr. 1500 threatened to delete the rest of the post once he got bored.
Mr. 1500 note: I threatened to do no such thing! As a father of two young girls, almost every day is a fight against pink stuff and unicorns with sparkles. Why can’t girls like computers and rockets? Carry on Mr. Chaos…
But here are a few of the things I try to do:
- Praising my daughter for her actions, not her appearance. So often when we meet kids we tell girls how cute they are but we praise boys for their abilities. When my girl is brave, that’s what I tell her. When she shows me her artwork, I compliment her creativity. When she is goofing off, I let her know how funny she is (and that her funniness was inherited from me…). And when she’s being her normal self, I just tell her she’s awesome. But don’t get me wrong, I think she is the most beautiful girl in the world, and every now and then I do tell her that.
- Focusing on health rather than appearance. Praising actions rather than appearance is great, but what do I tell my daughter when
Mrs.Chaos decides she needs to go on a diet and our daughter wants to understand why? I try and steer these conversations towards the health benefits of exercising and eating food that’s good for you. Rather than the impact on our waist lines. I also encourage exercise by going running and swimming with her – even though my swimming style is best described as ‘frog in blender’. But in all seriousness, this is going to be a tough one as she gets older and more aware of her appearance.
- Avoiding stereotypical jokes or phrases. Such as ‘crying like a girl’, or ‘throwing like a girl’. My three boys cry just as much as my daughter, particularly when she throws things at them. These phrases reinforce stereotypes, and I’m trying to cut them out. They are much more common than you think once you start noticing them – ‘woman driver’ anyone?
And the reverse is also true, with male phrases seen as positive. If someone needs to be braver, they are typically told to ‘man up’ or ‘grow a pair’ (HANG ON, why are we talking about the vasectomy AGAIN!).
Some of this stuff is just so ingrained, that it takes a lot of effort – and a real desire to change. I’m really trying.
- Being willing to relinquish ‘male’ roles. My wife has a knack for figuring out how things work. If something in our house breaks, my kids run off to find mom to fix it. Even if I’m sitting right there. Which is fine, unless my father-in-law is also sitting there. By way of background, his expectation is that a ‘man’ should be a mixture of MacGyver (since you’re reading Mr 1500’s blog you should be old enough to remember him) and Chuck Norris – all whilst eating a platter of half-cooked red meat. So ‘fixing things’ is something the MAN takes care of. Anyway, this used to make me feel like I was only half a ‘man’, but why should it? Mrs. Chaos is significantly* better at fixing things than I am, not least because she’s an accomplished engineer. I love the fact that she stepped into a traditionally male role and has experience being the only woman on many of the work sites she managed. I know how difficult that was, and I think it’s a great example for our daughter (and our sons). So if this makes me Ben Stiller from Meet the Fockers, then so be it.
- Being willing to take on ‘female’ roles or qualities. I’d love to say that I cook all of our meals. But I don’t and it’s not because I think cooking is a female role – it’s because my better half cooks amazing food and I burn toast. But I am the one that tidies and keeps some semblance of order in the house. That means picking up Mrs. Chaos’ dirty clothes from the bedroom floor and closing the open cupboards and drawers she leaves open all over the house. (If anyone has a solution
forthis problem, there is a reward**. Her current record is 10 open cupboards / drawersin the kitchen – but she’s a high achiever and I’ve no doubt she’ll beat that one day….)
And I am most definitely the sympathetic parent if one of our kids is sick. My wife has many wonderful qualities, but sympathy would not be in her top 10 (or possibly top 100…). I know how it feels to be at death’s door and to receive ‘sympathy’ from my wife… It’s best that the kids come to me when they are sick.
- Modeling a strong relationship with my wife in which my actions and words demonstrate respect and love, and reflect a true partnership. It means appreciating ALL of Mrs. Chaos’ many qualities, and not just her beauty or cooking skills.
I want to give my daughter every chance to be the best version of herself, and that’s a pretty positive motivator in living out some of the above.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that fear is also a big driver. I know that girls often marry versions of their father. That terrifies me. But also motivates me to become the type of person I’d want my daughter to marry***. Which will require becoming at least TWICE the man I currently am.
* Mrs. Chaos edited this post and may have added a few words
** To be paid in Zimbabwean dollars
*** For the record, my daughter knows that she’s not allowed to start dating until I’m dead…
Thank you to Mr 1500 for lowering his standards to allow me to post on his site. One of the things that hooked me on FI was a story I heard Mr. 1500 telling on a podcast about one of his daughters getting a hard time because she didn’t have the right brand of toys. That story really resonated with me and was part of my journey into this movement. To be writing on Mr 1500s site a few months later is a little surreal. It was a real highlight for my wife and I to meet the 1500s at a Chautauqua recently. And by the way, here’s our perspective on the right toys!!!
About: Cutting Through Chaos (cuttingthroughchaos.com) is our take on life and how to navigate a path through the craziness of four young kids while living abroad. We’re ‘blessed’ with an opinionated 7 year old, an off-the-wall 4 year old and a pair of risk-seeking 2 year olds. We would love to connect with you through the website, at twitter on @cuttingchaos, or on email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading!
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