Feminist nanny needs your advice!

Okay, so, obviously I haven’t written in a while – between working three jobs, trying to keep up with dance classes, and starting to train as a dance instructor, plus fighting what I think may be strep throat, my brain is NOT functioning.

BUT. A brief exchange with the toddler today made me think a little bit about my feminist nanny techniques.

Today, among other things, the toddler pretended to be Princess Polly. As Princess Polly, she used a hammer and screwdriver to "build a big-girl bed".

Today, among other things, the toddler pretended to be Princess Polly. As Princess Polly, she used a hammer and screwdriver to “build a big-girl bed”.

We were hanging out, and she was sitting on my lap. She was in a good mood, and we were joking around. I said to her “who’s wonderful?” and she proudly replied “me!” (she actually replied with her name, but you get the point). I continued, “who’s brave?” “me!” then “who’s… fantastic?” “me!” and “who’s… clever?” “me!”

Last, I threw in “who’s beautiful?” and she paused for just a second before saying “a butterfly!”

Now, obviously she’s internalized the idea that her cleverness and kindness and bravery are more important than her appearance. So, excellent!

She also pretended to be Meeow, because she was painting with red paint, and Meeow likes the colo(u)r red!

She also pretended to be Meeow, because she was painting with red paint, and Meeow likes the colo(u)r red!

But in a game we were playing where I was obviously listing positive adjectives that were about her, it jarred me a bit that she didn’t immediately identify with the idea of being beautiful.

And since I spend a lot of time thinking about these issues, it’s been bugging me ever since, and I’m curious to know what you think.

SO. Do I:

A. keep doing as I’ve been doing, praising her for her patience and memory and cleverness, and hope that her confidence in her many awesome traits will help insulate her a bit when the cultural messages about appearance start to have an effect on her?

B. start to throw in a “beautiful” or “pretty” or “cute” here and there, so that when those messages do take effect she can feel confident knowing that she is beautiful?

Of course, she also spent a lot of the morning pretending to be "a solid" from the TMBG song "Solid, liquid, gas," so it's possible I'm over-thinking ALL of this!

Of course, she also spent a lot of the morning pretending to be “a solid” from the TMBG song “Solid, liquid, gas,” so it’s possible I’m over-thinking ALL of this!

Or,

C. stop over-thinking things and just be happy I get to hang out with such a wonderful, kind, clever, brave, and patient kid every day?

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4 responses to “Feminist nanny needs your advice!

  1. Definitely C

    Why not just tell her you think she is beautiful, rather than encourage her to assess herself?

    The idea of a ‘feminist nanny’ is disturbing. Feminism is founded on the claim that men have historically oppressed women, which defines men as sociopaths. Even if this claim were true (it is not) I still think it is a horrible thing to tell a little girl (or boy). I mean why not just tell her that her dad doesn’t view her as a full status human being? That’s essentially what feminist theory claims.

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    • I’m not really sure what you mean by encouraging her to assess herself.

      The idea that feminism defines men as sociopaths is patently wrong. I think you’re confusing ‘patriarchy’ with ‘men’. Also, I’m not really sure what I’d be telling a 2-year-old about feminism itself – if you’ve paid any attention to my blog at all, you’d see that my feminism informs my nannying, not that I’m running my nannying job as a women’s studies 101 course.

      And finally, feminist theory claims nothing about how her father views her, and I’d thank you to avoid making personal attacks like that (take a look at my comment policy if you’re not sure what I allow here).

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  2. I love your book selections. I also love that she spent the morning “pretending” to be a solid. (I GOTTA up my own pretending game…)

    I’m inclined to suggest C (as a conscious practice for your own well-being) and A (as daily choices I’m sure you’ll keep doing anyway). All the while keeping B in mind, as reminder that she’s gotta navigate this stuff in her own time and her own way, no matter what you do!

    Seriously, though. These books look nanny-awesome.

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    • I can take no credit for the books – they’re all selections by her wonderful parents!

      And yeah – I think that I’m just going to have to keep going with my intuition, and if it does look like appearance or beauty standards are making their way onto her radar, we can re-assess how we handle it.

      But yeah, ‘solid’ was awesome. As was the day she learned the word ‘person’ and kept referring to herself as ‘the person’. ‘The person is walking!’ So cute.

      Liked by 1 person

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