Tuesday, December 14, 2010


"My friend Sophie, 46, who runs her own design company and is a single mother to 2 boys aged nine and eleven,.....has been single for 6 years, since her husband left her for another women.
Blonde, attractive and kind, she hasn't been on a date since he walked out.
'I have absolutely no idea how to be a women anymore,' she says, 'Because I run my business my home and make all the decisions about the boys, I feel totally unfeminine.'
'I'm terrified of dating as I have no idea how to behave. I would love a partner but I feel unattractive, untrusting, unsexy and completely alone.'
That, of course is the crux for many of us.
We honestly believed that if we worked hard, we could have it all and more.
Yet so many of us have ended up lonely, exhausted and broken-hearted, with far less of what we bargained for.... Clearly, men and women are increasingly out of sync, and the key could be in learning to be re-balanced ourselves as women and reclaim our essential softness."
FAST TRACK TO FEMININITY: Why Competing With Men has Left Women Out of Touch With Their Feminine Side . by Anna Pasternak.  Mail Online. www.dailymail.co.uk

This is PART 4 and the last part of "WHAT DAUGHTERS NEED FROM THEIR MOTHERS".

The above quote could be used as a discussion starter into many subjects and directions. You may wonder how this applies to what mums need to teach their daughters.
I want to take from this quote the thread of "femininity", and discuss the need of it in mums and daughters lives alike.
As our girls grow into teenagers and emerge into adult women, many have an unclear view of what being feminine IS. It regularly gets confused with being sexy, or being an old fashioned thing ladies of the past practiced. As girls, women or females ~ all of us are born with feminine aspects as a part of our personal character and being.
"A wise person once said that it's easier to build a healthy child than repair an adult. The best way to build emotionally healthy children who accept and enjoy their gender is for us as parents (grandparents or teachers) to affirm boys in their masculinity and girls in their femininity."  Sue Bohlin : Boys are From Mars, Girls are From Venus:Raising Gender Healthy Kids.

IS FEMININITY ~ to feel like one of the mythological women in Botticelli's 
                                 painting "Spring", in their semi transparent, veil-like
                             ~ having dreadlocked hair piled high on one's head?
                             ~ being a princess or ballerina in pink with frills and bows
                             ~ sporting a tattoo or Maori Moko (tattoo from a Maori
                                 woman's lip to chin)?
                             ~ the feeling from a full makeover with new hairstyle?
                             ~ to stretch and lengthen one's ear lobes as women of
                                 Papua New Guinea did in the past?
                             ~ high heels and nail polish on?
                             ~ to live bare breasted as the women of South America 
                                 and other nations lived in the past?
                      YES all the above at some time in history and in some cultures
                      have been seen as feminine.
IS FEMININITY ~ exposing one's midriff with diamante crusted belly 
                                 button stud?
                             ~ to play 'dumb' 'cute' 'fragile'?
                             ~ just about clothing or only wearing dresses?
                             ~ about attracting men, or about how you feel about
                                 yourself, or a bit of both?

If I asked 10 or 100 women to show me what they thought femininity was, I'd have 10 or 100 different answers.
Here are some descriptions I found of what an UNFEMININE women is like. You may or may not agree with them.
* don't flirt with men              * don't wear makeup
* have an "acute need of affection"     *autonomous
* controls everything      * see relationships as business transactions
* competes with men    * often feels more masculine than feminine
* trampled (women's) core femininity into the ground    *soul less
* independent    * "have become warriors, feisty and aggressive"
* total orientation to achieving     * addiction to perfectionism
* look tough, as though they have it all together, "but really they are well-                                      
   defended because they do not want to get hurt or be vulnerable".
In reading this list I hope you are kindly challenged in finding areas you need to consider working on - attitudes and behaviour patterns you practice that are not helpful.

Now for the descriptions of what a FEMININE women is like. I'm sure there'll be some here you like and possibly some you don't.
* they are intuitive                 * they are compassionate
* they listen to their men       * they are nurturers
* "but to be feminine, at some level you have got to be open. Being open 
    allows connection ..... and the other feminine gifts."
* letting things "unfold or happen"    * they trust their men
* they are open for others input and contributions
* they are completely comfortable with who they are
* they feel they are a positive part of a team (at home in the workplace 
    and relationally) - rather than being the only or dominant player.
* they feel totally natural and sense great satisfaction in expressing their
* they are relaxed and fulfilled in their sexuality and their expression of it.

Louise C "Forget Femininity" at Taken in Hand, says "In any case, I feel that 'femininity' whatever it is, must be compatible with behaving like a rational human being, surely a woman does not have to check her brains in at the door in order to be considered feminine". Certainly not! Femininity is nothing to do with burying your mind. As seen from the above descriptions the full expression of femininity is found in relation to men/masculinity. 

Psychologist, Jeff Allen, says "....you can not have true success or a successful relationship without the balance of masculine and feminine: The reason career women feel lonely within themselves and often have a deep sense of failure is because they are not connected to their hearts .... I'm not saying career women should chuck it all away, but if they connected to things that really matter to them, if they start to appreciate little beautiful things every day - literally stop and smell the roses - then what they will have to offer will be really quite profound. " Jeff Allen also encourages women to stop competing with men, particularly relationally, as it "is totally destructive" and unfeminine.

Daughters need mums who are living examples of femininity so they will feel safe, normal and confident to develop their own femininity. How can you do this?
"Femininity is all about being relaxed with yourself....about authenticity". It is not a forced female or girly 'look' where you suddenly wear high heels, mini skirts, florals and silks, or show lots of leg or cleavage. "If it feels false, DON'T do it". All women need to find their version of being relaxed about themselves, being authentic, including your daughter as she grows up.
"Femininity is about an internal experience with yourself and clothes are about the external appearance." So what we wear can be a reminder for us of who we are. Many of us are of the habit of "bringing out femininity for the occasion, as opposed to being feminine whatever the occasion". As we attempt to work at this we can encourage our daughter to do likewise, in her own expression of being feminine.
Of course it helps girls to be part of conversations about what is feminine, and pointing out examples of femininity around them. This will shape their personal views and choices along with your family's ethics, values and world view.
Within a family of girls who all receive the same upbringing there will be different expressions of femininity - some you will agree with, others you may not. :CAUTION: It is natural and normal for girls to experiment to find their version of femininity, particularly as teenagers. Rather than over reacting, our job is to 'hang in there' and 'major on the majors , minor on the minors'. Ask yourself if this an issue worth 'dying' for? Give her space, time, respect of individuality and lots of love.
I have four daughters, each unique in their expressions of femininity and different to mine. I think that is 'healthy', just as my definition of femininity is very different to my own mother's.
Our living example of femininity and our conversations with our daughters can have a positive benefit into their futures as women.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS  When do YOU feel feminine? Maybe this is a question you should ask your daughter this week, and share with her your answer too.

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