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Mar 31, 201710:06 AM
Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

Teach Your Children Well

A few things I want my daughters to learn

Today is the last day of March and thus the last day of Women’s History Month.

I am, of course, concerned with women’s history, but as someone who is raising two daughters, I am even more concerned with women’s future.

It can be easy to feel discouraged about those prospects sometimes, but I’m choosing to focus on what’s within my control, which is making sure that my daughters grow into strong, competent women.

After talking with a few other late-20s/early-30s female friends and coworkers, here is the list of what I want my girls to know by the time they’re grown. (Note: These are not things any of us is especially good at doing ourselves, which is pretty much the point.)

 

1. How to say no. And I don’t mean it in a Nancy Reagan “just say no” sense — although I hope they do that, too. I mean, how to say no to taking on that extra work that they don’t have time for or how to say no to attending that social function they have no desire to attend. How to say no to demands on their time for things that won’t give them joy. How to say no politely but still say no and stick to it.

2. How to do basic tasks without regard to gender: change a tire, change a diaper, plunge a toilet, cook a meal. (Wash your hands before cooking the meal, though, particularly if doing any of the other things prior.) Also, where to look (books, YouTube, whatever is relevant in the next decade) if you don’t know how to do something so that you can learn how to do it.

3. How to complain effectively. Let me preface this by saying that I never advocate rudeness — never be rude to anyone: customer service people, waitstaff, senators, your interns, your bosses. Just don’t be an asshole, period. That said, don’t eat a meal you didn’t order because you’re too polite or timid to send it back. (I have done this many times, and I regret almost all of them.)

4. How to apologize when warranted. It can be really hard to say you messed up or that you’re sorry. (My favorite not-at-all-safe-for-work clip from A Fish Called Wanda seems relevant here.) But a sincere and direct apology can clear the air, mend fences, and probably a few other metaphors, too. Know when you’re wrong, own up, and have a plan to do better in the future.

5. How to not apologize when you’re not in the wrong. Women are entirely too prone to say they’re sorry for everything under the sun. It’s almost a conversational filler in my own vocabulary, right up there with “um,” “like,” and “I mean …” Reflexive, compulsive apologies are not something I want my daughters to imitate.

 

What do you want to teach your children, daughters and sons?

 

 

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Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

about

        Eve is further proof, if any is needed, that New Orleans girls can never escape the city. After living here since the age of 3 and graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Eve moved to Columbia, Mo., where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and became truly, unhealthily obsessed with grammar.She had originally intended to strike out to New York City and work in the cutthroat magazine industry there, but after Katrina, Eve felt a strong pull to return home, to her roots, her family, her waterlogged and struggling city – and a much more forgiving work atmosphere that would allow her to skip a routine of everyday makeup and size 0 designer label business suits and enjoy the occasional cocktail or three with an absurdly fattening lunch. She moved back home in January 2008 and lives in Mid-City with her two daughters, Ruby and Georgia; her stepson, Elliot; and her husband, Robert Peyton.Eve blogs about the joys and struggles of living in post-Katrina New Orleans, the unique problems and delights of raising a child in such a diverse and challenging city – including her experiences with the public education system – and her always entertaining and extremely colorful family.Eve has won numerous writing awards, including the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for column-writing and Press Club of New Orleans awards for her Editor’s Note in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and for this blog, most recently winning the award for "Best Feature Affiliated Blog."She welcomes comments, advice, empty flattery, recipes, drink invitations and – most especially – grammatical or linguistic debates.

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