Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bringing Up Girls

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Our daughter, Brooke working on a project for an art contest at school. She LOVES to embroider!

This post has been formulating in my brain for a couple of weeks now, but I keep putting it off for a variety of reasons. One of my reasons is that I wanted this post to be perfect; perfectly expressed words with perfectly edited photographs to illustrate what I’m saying and a perfectly designed downloadable pattern to include on the sidebar. But, I realized this “perfection” I’ve been waiting for is unrealistic with everything else we have going on and that this topic was too important for me to put off any longer.

Joel and I have two daughters; two daughters who are both beautiful, both smart and both inherently unique individuals that we love dearly. We also have two amazing little boys, who I will probably write about at a later time, but today, my focus is on these precious, delicate (or sometimes not so much) females with whom we have been blessed to help teach, nurture and prepare to become beautiful, independent and, hopefully, confident young ladies and women.

For me, the responsibility of raising girls has seemed a bit more challenging than raising boys so far. Joel and I have had countless conversations discussing our parenting techniques and what we feel is most important for us to be teaching our children. We both feel a great deal of concern about the world in which our children, and especially our daughters, are growing up.

So, when I saw the book “Bringing Up Girls,” by Dr. James Dobson a couple of weeks ago at the library, I promptly checked it out, hoping his experience and wisdom would tell me exactly what I need to do to successfully raise my daughters to know of their intrinsic worth. He did just that.

Nothing Dr. Dobson writes in his book is an entirely foreign idea to me. In fact, my parents instilled all these same values and moral standards in me as I was growing up. These values are also highly emphasized within the faith we practice. I grew up knowing I was a daughter of God and, as such, had high expectations for what I would accomplish in life, high expectations for the man I would one day marry and high expectations for the family I would one day create.

In his book, Dr. Dobson talks about the peril our girls face in our world today and that the lack of femininity in our culture that has resulted since the feminist movement of the 1960’s is partly to blame. He says,

“Girls were considered far too passive, frilly, compliant, and motherly. That had to change. They needed to be taught to be aggressive, tough, tomboyish, unemotional, and, yes, much more masculine.”

He goes on to explain in the next two chapters and site research demonstrating why it is so important to not continue this trend. He mentions how what used to be mandatory homemaking classes taught in our schools, have mostly been canceled and “that America became the worse for it.”

So, after that long-winded introduction, I am finally getting to the main purpose of this post. I was one of those girls who, while growing up, did not always appreciate the lessons in femininity and homemaking skills my mother deemed so valuable. Sewing was one of those skills she tried her best to teach to an uncooperative teen-aged girl. I wish I had paid better attention now, but I’m quickly making up for my lack of interest then and am trying to learn all I can about the art of sewing.

Two weeks ago Joel had the opportunity to speak to a group of educators from throughout the state of Utah. These women teach Family and Life Science courses at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels. At the conclusion of his presentation, several of the women came up to thank Joel for supporting their conference because they feel like what they are teaching is under attack of being removed entirely from the schools. One woman told Joel that Utah is one of the few states left where Home Economics courses are still taught in public schools.

I would love to have attended the conference with Joel, but while he was there, I was undertaking an ambitious project of my own; teaching 11 girls between the ages of 8-12 how to sew. Not only was I teaching them how to sew, I was teaching them how to sew a project that may not have been the most suitable for the age group. However, all of them loved the experience and were so proud of what they accomplished. I’m grateful I had six other women there to assist with this frenetic activity.

We sewed bags for carrying their scriptures to church. I gave them two designs to choose from (next time I will present one option!) and we spent one activity cutting out their bags and a longer activity sewing them. While it got a bit crazy at times trying to direct six different helpers and 11 girls how to complete the project, it was highly satisfying to use my talents in helping these girls see the value in sewing as a skill for them to learn.

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I don’t think every girl needs to learn the art of sewing (and neither does Dr. Dobson), but I do think it’s important to give our girls the opportunity. I want my girls to be excited about learning what are most commonly seen as feminine talents and skills. I want them to know that they can find great satisfaction in cooking, cleaning, sewing or any homemaking activity because all of these skills will be invaluable to them as mothers one day. I want their femininity to shine through in everything they do, whether it’s playing goalkeeper in a soccer game, excelling in a science class or baking a cake. Being feminine does not make the feminine sex weak or inferior in any way.

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If you're interested in the patterns and instructions for these bags, we'll work on a PDF file for you to download, but it will probably not be until after Thanksgiving. Joel and I are working on some other big projects to feature here in the next couple of weeks, and I'm too excited about them at the moment to stop!

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Jo in TAS said...

What a wonderful post! I don't have a daughter but if I did I'd want her to have the same balance in her life. To make up for not having a daughter I'm ensuring that my son has a good balance too!
PS Gorgeous bags, the girls all did a fine job.

Donna said...

I enjoyed your reading your message. I would much appreciate the pattern. I have a great niece learning to sew who would love the pretty bag to carry her scripture. Thanks for sharing.

Asiyah said...

Wonderful post!

We have both a son and a daughter and have already read "Bringing Up Boys" by Dr. Dobson. I ditto pretty much everything you've said here and often toyed with the idea of becoming a Home Ec teacher. It was one of the few classes that I truly enjoyed in middle school. Since the school system has all but removed the courses from their curriculum, I decided to teach quilting to girls at a local group home. It was a wonderful opportunity that I will treasure the rest of my life.

Now that my husband and I are looking to adopt two older sibling girls in the foster care system, it seems like a really good time to read "Bringing Up Girls", lol.

momto2wasd said...

Personally, I just wish that sewing could be considered somewhat like art--and not a gender issue. Because it is no longer a life skill like it was a long time ago, I think it does have a different role in education than it used to have. But it does have a role and I don't want to see it fall by the wayside!!

Allie said...

Thanks you so much for such a beautiful post. I'm raising a daughter, and trying to help her be proud of the differences and talents born to her. I'll be checking my library for that book. Thanks.

barneyn said...

i love this post, so well written, thank you for it, i agree with everything you said!

Kathie said...

great post! when my girls were little I would bring their brownie /girl scout troops over and we made baby quilts to donate to the hospital. Learning to use a sewing machine was such a joy for them. When the quilt tops were done they were AMAZED they made them! I wish I would have thought to let them make bags like this. They would have loved that. Most of them had never even touched a needle or sewing machine. Each year they looked forward to this activity.
I would love a pattern for the bag.
I wish they would bring back home economics to the schools.

Jane said...

Thanks for your post. While trying to become more like men we devalued the feminine. Society caused us to scorn so called women's roles much to the detriment of many of us.

Rana said...

Beautifully said! A woman being a woman is always a good thing, no matter what society at large has to say about it. God's ways are not our ways....

Rachaeldaisy said...

This is such a beautiful and special post. Thank you for sharing these important points with us.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! God bless your efforts.

Jacqui's Quilts said...

Great post Laurie! I was greatly inspired with Dr. Dobson's books when I was raising my four children (three boys and a girl). The Strong willed child was a God sent for me :-). We just cleaned out our bookshelves and all our Dobson books were distributed to our kids :-).

I've taught groups of kids to sew as well and now just incorporate them into my adult classes instead! It works great as the older students just love them and the kids bask in all the encouragement :-).

Jacqui in Canada

springstitches said...

Love the sentiment in this post, but also the bags. Hope the pattern finds its way to a PDF and a post real soon. Happy New Year!

MonikaC said...

Those bags are so cute! I agree we need to give our girls the opportunity to learn skills like sewing. Very thoughtful post. I would love to see a pattern!

paisley and lace said...

Loved your post. My sweet daughter is married, now, so my three sons remain for me to enjoy sewing and creating with. Here is a quilt my 14 year old son just finished. It was made with a lot of your fabrics, although they are from a season or two ago. He chose them not only because he liked them, but because they were designed by a man:) Thanks for your inspiration!


Anonymous said...

Excited to see this post, my 9 yo daughter's class have just spent their first school term learning to sew & made themselves a pencil case...Even the boys enjoyed it!
She has decided she wants to re-do her room in Modern Meadow - Berry!

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I have looked at your Blog... You and your husband are very Talented... I have been looking for a scripture bag pattern and was wondering if you have any thoughts if you might make that pattern public...

agratefulheart said...

This is also my first time to see your blog-very interesting! I, too, have taught 8-10 girls of the same age how to sew, and my what a racket! I should have been smart and got more helpers. Anyway-amen to your post about teaching girls! Keep up the good work!