First, women/girls have internalized the idea that they must be perfect or at least twice as good as a man/boy to succeed in the world. Gender roles penalize men in horrible ways as well, but generally, we praise men/boys for just existing and excoriate women/girls for the same–that’s the SOURCE of this perfectionism.
BUT… I also agree 100% with this article. Let’s change the dynamic early. Parents play a crucial role in teaching girls how to develop confidence not just competence–and that means leaving room to fail, taking risks, combating perfectionism, and emphasizing that not “playing it safe” is key to finding what they’re really capable of.
And the best way to do this isn’t hectoring–it’s by modeling it yourself. Last summer, I took a sabbatical to simply explore creative things. One was learning to draw. I pointedly told my boys that I knew zero about drawing but I just wanted to explore. So I got a few pencils and pads and books and set about learning the very basic parts of the craft. I drew the cats and my foot and a tree. They were objectively horrible, but I was super proud of them and showed my kids and talked about the revelations I’d had about *seeing things* in the process.
Three months later, one of them was assigned a pencil drawing. He was very averse to the idea until I said, “We’ll draw cats TOGETHER.” My willingness to draw bad cats made it much easier for him to attempt–and succeed!–in the assignment.
Three months after that, my other son (the one who’s always watching but doesn’t say much about it), comes to me and wants a drawing pad for his computer. “Why?” I ask, amazed. “Because I want to draw some things,” he says like I’m short a few brain cells. A few days later, he’s drawing cats…
I’m not saying my children have a future in art. I *am* saying they have a future because they’re not *afraid* to art. (And yes, they’re boys, so the deck isn’t stacked quite so much against them in some ways, but the principle is the same).
Know that you, by daring obviously, can have a huge impact on what your children think is possible–and this all the more crucial if you have girls.