Feb 9, 2017

How to talk to Little Girls

My partner has a daughter. And this year, one of the most important agenda that we have in our relationship is... 
His daughter meeting me.

Not her. Just a beautiful picture of a girl doing Aikido from Pinterest

His daughter and I have skyped regularly every weekend (the time my partner has her). If not on a Saturday morning at home, then on a Sunday when the two are enjoying their daddy-daughter date. Then they will skype me, or me them. I would usually be at home with my dogs in the background entertaining her who's watching and chatting her giggles away. Fun!

She calls me Ibu (Mother in Bahasa Indonesia) and I cannot help but to call her "Pretty girl." because, well, she is.

Being a nervous person that I always am, as we approach closer to our meet-cute, I started to read articles about "When you are meeting your partner's child" or "How to be your spouse' children's friend." 
Then I stumbled upon a GREAT article How to Talk to Little Girls by Lisa Bloom, which encourages adults to ask little girls about ideas and books, instead of complementing their looks. Ouch. Was I being completely wrong the whole time?

I started to remember what I have said to my partner about his daughter;
She has the most gorgeous hair.
Those eyes, baby. Those eyes!
Her smile is so beautiful!

Physical. Physical. Physical. Tho it may not always set them up for dieting at age 5 and full-make-up at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 (please continue if you like), but wouldn't it be so much better if we can put their interest to their minds and their passions from such an early stage? Instead of highlighting the physical stuffs only?

I cannot remember my grandparents talking to me about physical stuffs. Our conversations, as far as I can remember revolved around books, playing, food, music,and, well... books. Then why do I easily retreat to this easy template mode of talking to little girls about their appearance?

Was I trying to be liked? To be normal?

This paragraph below made me realize, I need to start changing that.

 “Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything,” says Bloom. “I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are… It’s our culture’s standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn’t it?”
 “Try this the next time you meet a little girl [ask her what she’s reading]. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it…Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.”

Then, I started to slowly  changed my conversations with my partner's daughter. "Tell me about your new sticker books..." would be the ice breaker instead of "Let me see the dress Daddy got you."

I resort to ask what songs she wants us to sing together and what is her favorite activity at school today instead of "That's a cute hair clip!"
And I am always surprised to see how those questions got us to know each-other more. She talks about martial arts when I told her about running. She likes swimming and want to someday swimming with Ibu at the beach.

And I went farther. I ask my best friend's daughter about her favorite The Force Awakens' scene and we talked about how sad the passing of General Leia made us. I chatted with my other friend's daughter about her swimming class and I told her swimming makes her strong and girls should be proud to be strong.

Lisa Bloom’s advice to have real conversations with little girls (and boys!) is simple yet wonderful.  
Try these:
“Have you been swimming this holiday?” 
“Do you like dogs?” 
"What is your favorite book/animal/color/food?"
"Can you sing me your favorite song?"
“Do you know any jokes?” 
You will be boggled with their minds.  It is such a seemingly small thing, but it can make a profound difference.

What’s your take on this? Do you instinctively compliment little girls’ looks, too? 

Do you remember having smart conversations with adults when you were little? Do you have any young girls in your life at the moment?

ps: My favorite campaign. For girls (and boys)
Keep Playing Like a Girl and another reason why I am more convinced that my guy is the one for me : On giving last name to our children 

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