Teaching our young children to be polite by saying Please and Thank You seems so basic and simple until we realize that this simple lesson in good manners explodes into so much more for little girls who become polite women who aim to Please and strive for Perfection. Is it really fair to lay the foundation for how differently our daughters and sons internalize this manners lesson, or does it really matter? The impact of the words & actions we use every day in our young children’s lives is what really matters!
Think about it; do we really enforce that “polite” language on our sons in the same intensity we do with our daughters? We don’t want people to think we are raising “rude” little girls and we forgive our sons for their perceived rudeness, as we all know “boys will be boys”.
We want our daughters to become strong confident women but yet we impose a “standard” for them that impede that goal. Saying please and thank you is not the real issue, but there is a direct correlation between that and women feeling the intense need to be polite while their male colleagues are not burdened with that label.
For example, in a meeting, women will wait until there is a lull or pause to speak up and share their thoughts or ideas on an issue, while the men at the table are very comfortable interrupting to make their points and be heard. Women get very frustrated and feel they are often treated unequally. The ideas of women are “stolen” right out from under them just because they feel the need to be polite and not interrupt. Crazy I know, but it’s the truth.
Yesterday, while visiting my adult daughter, she laughed and told me she has found herself saying “thank you” to Amazon’s Alexa, for reminders and such. I am clearly guilty of over emphasizing politeness and my daughter bears that burden in her professional life. She has found ways to overcome it, but from time to time, it certainly rears its head in the strangest ways!
I can hear you saying, “we need more please and thank you in the world” and I certainly don’t disagree. It needs to be shared equally by both men and women.
Little boys are taught to be fearless. They are expected to pick themselves up when they fall and get right back on the horse and try again. Little girls tend to be coddled and caressed, while being allowed to ‘sit this one out’ until they are ready, whatever that means.
Girls are not more fragile than boys when they are born but we make them fragile but how we interact with them. Boys are not really allowed to have their feelings hurt but rather are expected to brush it off, while girls have their feelings tended to so they can “feel better” with a scoop of ice cream or their favorite candy. Sport coaches tell us how they find it very difficult to give girls direct constructive criticism for fear they will cry or quit because girls don’t have the early experience of “just get over” it or just go out there and do it.
What we say to our children early on forms them in ways we never think about as we raise them. We put those little voices in their heads that remind them to be polite or to be Daddy’s “perfect” “pretty” little girl rather than the brave and bold women we so earnestly want them to become.