*8Things: Anti-Power Messages to Counteract

*8Things iconI’m working away over here like a busy little bee, preparing for an overseas move AND putting the finishing touches on my next course, Power Stories: tips and tales for standing in your own power. (Get on the early notificiation list here.)

This topic of standing in your own power still resonates strongly with me. I keep thinking of new ways to approach it, and new reasons why learning this skill is so vital to genuine living. This week I jotted down a quick list of *8Things: Anti-Power Messages I’m learning to avoid and to counteract — both in my own life and for the sake of my children. These are the messages that really hemmed me in — and one’s I’m trying (imperfectly) to counter-teach to my own girls.

1) Don’t argue with your parents. While children do need to be respectful to adults because they are humans, they don’t need to kowtow to everything an adult says.  In our household we spend a lot of time teasing out what kinds of things are open for discussion, and when it’s time to acquiesce to that parental standby “Because I said so.” We also work on how to contradict teachers and other authority figures with respect, but with clear determination. (A lot of this goes on ’round the kitchen table.) I’ve gotten push back from older family members for letting my kids “talk back.” And from time to (rare) time, they do take it too far, or do it in a snotty tone of voice. But I’d rather have my kids step over the line once in awhile than have them ignore their own truths and desires out of blind obedience. (Plus I think it helps the family-as-community model, which I dig.)

2) Don’t have sex. I’ve written about this before. The short version is, we are trying to help our girls stand in their own power so they can ascertain when they are ready for sex. My hope is that they will not be shamed into abstinence nor rushed into premature sex by media messages about what is “normal;” but rather that they will find their own right time/place/age/partner. Teaching your kids to wisely honor their own bodies is a big step in helping them stand in their own power, and protect their physical selves.

3) Clear your plate.Teaching your kids how to recognize hunger and thirst signals, and honor them is priceless. Think of how much energy you’ve spent over the years worrying about your weight and what you can/can’t eat. If we could harvest that energy, my generation could power the nation for a decade. It’s time to break the cycle. Since they were toddlers we’ve been teaching the girls to have plenty of “produce and protein;” helping them know when they need carbs for short energy bursts and when they need some long burning protein, encouraging them to drink enough water; explaining why comfort foods comfort; and helping them notice what  foods make them feel good, and which cause them to be irritable or unhappy.

4) Because it’s bedtime.Sleep needs vary with ages, seasons, and the amount of stuff that’s on the calendar. Helping kids understand thier work/rest rhythms is good soulcare for life.

5) You can’t quit — you made a commitment. I walk a fine line on this one. On the one hand learning to honor your commitments is a valuable life lesson. On the other, listening to your body/mind/spirit and realizing that it’s time to be done with a give activity is also bedrock stuff for standing in your own power. How many volunteer commitments have you regretted but felt to guilty to resign from?  Teach ’em now people. Teach ’em now.

6) That’s too tight/low cut/revealing.  -AND-
7) That’s a BAD word!

With both attire and language we try to talk to the girls about what’s “appropriate.” A high school senior showing a bit of cleavage at prom? Seems about right. A tweenager in a bikini the size of a doilie — not so much. … Saying “shit” at Danish skole, where the English explicative is the standard word for “poop.” Totally appropriate. Dropping it in front of Grandma? Please don’t!  We try to point out that words and clothes aren’t morally “good” or “bad” — it’s how you use them. While shopping or watching TV, “Mom, that doesn’t seem appropriate to me.” is something we hear quite often around these parts.

8) Be Nice. The girls and I were watching Survivor 20 recently.  I can’t remember the name or the exact wording but it went something like this. The host said, “SuzyQ you always seem to do quite well on the game, then it comes time to either play a tough strategy, or cave in, and suddenly you lose. What happens?” SuzieQ had no answer. But when they showed the clips of the key moments in which she had lost the game, every one of them showed her abandoning her plan in order to “be nice” in some superficial way. Teach your kids to be respectful. Teach them to be kind. But nice for niceness’ sake? Forget about it.

*8Things iconWhat’s your list of *8Things: Anti-Power Messages to Counteract? Which messages do you carry from childhood that keep you from standing in your own power? What cultural messages are you counter-acting with you children or with younger people you mentor? Let us know. We need to learn from you!  Grab a button and play along. If you put your list on your blog, give us the permalinkin the Mr. Linky below. Thanks for playing!

Train with Magpie Girl iconDo you want to Train with Magpie Girl? I’ve got a new class starting the end of July that’s all about learning to stand in your own power. Join Magpie Girl and Friends as we teach you all our best power stances.  Hop on the early notification list for Power Stories: tips and tales for standing in your own power and get first dibs on a seat. See you there!

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Abby June 25, 2010 at 5:13 pm

WELL said!!

Shawn June 25, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Great, great, great post! Love this. My girls are only 4 but I think about these kinds of societal rules and how on one hand I want to teach them to obey and on the other to break all of them, shatter them to pieces. You have reached a good middle ground here and, again, I always feel so on the same page with you.

Jessica June 25, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I absolutely agree & adore this list! I so wish this line of thinking had been part of my childhood.


Cindy June 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Absolutely wonderful list!!! All things we work on in our house, too, but which I can always stand a refresher reminder on for MYSELF.

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