The hubbub about saving our daughters from the “Bossy” label might be waning but I still feel a need to weigh in.
I had to think about it a bit.
I’m pretty sure I was called bossy at some point in my youth and I am also pretty sure that being bossy was not viewed as a positive trait in my childhood home. In fact, my paternal grandmother was endlessly villainized and mocked for these very qualities, as was pretty much any outspoken woman in our family.
I’m sad as an adult to admit I always had a fear of coming off too much like my grandmother. Bossy for a woman, in my home culture, still equalled abrasive, unwomanly and worthy of scorn.
I find myself offering apologies to the air now. Hoping she’ll hear me. What did I really know about her life? That from all her siblings and parents, she alone managed to be the sole survivor of the Holocaust. That she made the most of an often tough and certainly grief filled existence here. That she managed to raise three successful sons. Bossy’s looking a lot better as I age.
When it came to my own daughters, I resolved from the start to raise them a little differently, with strong voices. This isn’t always easy. Sometimes outspoken IS abrasive and their demands can be overwhelming, and seem selfish at times. But that’s no reason to silence them.
One thing has made it easier for me not to squash their leadership spirit and to embrace their beautifully bossy natures. All I have to do is remember.
For many women and girls, like my grandmother and my daughter, bossy is not merely a first world phrase or an executive marketing ploy. It’s a survival skill.
I wrote about raising daughters and getting beyond Bossy on my Babble Blog, if you care to read.