Me nor want gyal pikin o…dem at for men. (I don’t want girls, they are too difficult to raise). So the rhetoric goes among many parents and would-be- parents in Sierra Leone.
Even before conception, a girl child is rejected. Understandably so. She is too needy. Too naughty. Too demanding, they say.
Unfortunately, this early rejection feeds into attitudes to parenting in many families in our society. Many mothers, partly because they themselves did not receive such attention or affirmation from their own mothers, do not have a relationship with their girls because they often don’t even know or understand what it means to have a relationship with one’s daughter. What they have are familial ties which does not always translate into the things that characterize sound relationships: honest conversations, trust, constructive criticism etc. It is not unheard of for mothers to verbally abuse their daughters from an early age or to take their anger out on the daughter whenever there is a misunderstanding with the father. Girls are not punch bags. While punch bags return to their original state few moments after being punched, girls do not have that luxury. Your words cut deeper and cause far reaching damage into adulthood than you could imagine. A good friend of mine, now a grown woman and one i truly admire and respect, recounts how as a child her mother always made it her business to crticize and belittle her and so she grew up, like many other women, more aware of her flaws and imperfections than she was of her strengths and abilities. Things have got to change.
But things will only change when a mother begins to realize her role in her daughter’s life. Mothers, in general, spend more time with their children than do the fathers and so wield greater influence in the child’s development in the areas of self-esteem and self-confidence. A good mother knows how to balance discipline with love so a girl child understands the need for both. As a mother, you can be your girl’s biggest cheerleader or critic, motivator or demotivator, leader or opposition. You choose.
I want my girls, the next generation of women, to be aware of who they are and whose they are. I want them to be godly, bold, strong, courageous and confident. I want them to speak their minds without fear or favor. I know this is God’s desire for all girls and even more.
I am by no means an expert at raising children, neither is this note one of condemnation to parents. Rather, I hope it will spark a debate, a movement among mothers about being more proactive in the area of raising their daughters. We can change the course of history, of the next generation by raising God-fearing confident women. We can change the history narrative of Sierra Leone by raising girls who can significantly contribute to the development of this nation, making redundant the need for quotas in public and private instututions because there will be too many women to fill these positions. Mothers, build your daughters with your words; your words matter. Especially to your children. When you destroy them with your words, society only preys on the damage you have done.
In any case, if God has given you the task of raising a daughter, consider it a privilege. It may be true that girls demand more of you as a parent than boys but the rewards are equally far reaching. You see, girls today are the mothers of tomorrow, the bridge between the old and the new, the past and the future. In essence, you are shaping many generations through one person. If you are not sure how to do it, why not ask God for grace, wisdom and guidance to do so? #yourdaughtermatters.