Both men and women need to learn how to properly raise girls into women, in America, in the 21st century. Men are not teaching their daughters about how to earn money, how to save money and how to invest money. Women are not stepping in and doing anything about it, because for the most part, they weren't raised with financial knowledge either.
In my household growing up, I was encouraged to spend every penny I made on things like: clothes, shoes, makeup and the like. My brothers, with every dime they earned, were ushered by my father into the world of stocks, bank accounts, investments, and saving up for important monumental purchases, i.e. a first car. This is not a discrepancy that I noticed as a child or adolescent, mind you. This was a sad circumstance that I recognized years later, as a young woman trying to make it in the world with no financial skills.
I didn't understand the origins of my lack of survival ability at the time, as all that I could focus on was day to day life and how to deal with each bill, collection notice, and summons as they smacked me across the face, one after the other. You see, this was my first time actually seeing a bill. In college I had an American Express Card and a Mobil Gas Card, both of which monthly statements were mailed to my parent's house and the bills were magically paid each and every month by my father. I can remember one particular instance in which I was sitting with some friends who were chatting about gasoline prices and hemming and hawing about the financial strain it placed on them as college students. At the time I always pulled my car up to the "full service" pump, always requested Super Unleaded and handed over my credit card without blinking an eye. Now this behavior didn't make me a bad person, but it did make me an ignorant uninformed person, who was not made to stand on her own two feet yet.
Moving out on my own to Los Angeles at the age of 23 was the beginning of some crucial character building in my life. Slowly but surely, my parents pulled the financial plug. At first it felt as though they pulled the plug on my life support, as I lay incapacitated in a hospital bed. I was flat lined; dead. I had no idea where to go from there and I plummeted into a depression. I was arguing with my father on the phone one day and he said, "I think I made a really bad mistake. I never made you sink or swim on your own and now I am going to correct it by making you sink or swim on your own no matter how much it hurts me to see you struggle." I pleaded, bargained, experienced denial, anger, depression sound familiar?? Those are the classic emotional phases of death. The last phase: acceptance. I had to accept the fact that I was dead broke, in debt, and in legal trouble for lack of paying parking tickets and not registering my car with the California DMV. Poverty feeds on itself. They say that wealth begets wealth, but poverty REALLY begets poverty! I was poverty stricken at the ages of 23, 24 and 25 after growing up with an extremely cushiony safety net. Although comfortable, that safety net was pure poison! Had I not gone through extreme struggle in my early to mid twenties, I would not be the person I am today. The person I am today is focused, competent, and independent.
I can't tell you how many times I speak to male friends of mine who tell me about yet another date with a 20 or even 30 something year old woman who had nothing more to contribute to the evening's conversation then the last pair of shoes she purchased or the new Prada handbag that she has her eye on. Where is the wisdom, the education, the empathy, or the comprehension of world events? Many of these women are indeed college graduates, but were most likely there to explore the illustrious world of sorority life while trying to earn their "MRS." Degree. The world is changing and it is no longer a given that a young woman will go from mommy and daddy's house to college to getting married and moving in with a gainfully employed and much more world weary partner, who will take care of them.
Parents need to raise their daughters to be feminine, but at the same time sharp and aware of the world around them. Raising girls into women is no easy task. In fact, I find the future prospect of it daunting, myself. However, a young girl must be taught by her parents to understand the basic principals of being assertive, knowing how to emotionally and physically self-defend and even fight back when need be. She must learn the importance of self education through avid reading and exploring philosophy, religions, politics, sociology, the American economy and the dynamics of money: how to earn money, save money, spend money, and invest money.
One thing I was taught growing up was how to remain sharp in mind and spirit and to think with precision in order to gain respect from my male contemporaries. Men tend to respect women who respect themselves. If a young woman presents herself as a worthwhile, intelligent and emotionally responsible human being, she will then be respected and listened to as such. Before she can use the tools she has been given from birth, she must be taught that those tools exist within her. The teachers of this concept are the parents. These seeds are planted in the home and they sprout in the world. But if the seeds are not planted in the home, the child is not aware that she possesses these invaluable tools and you cannot utilize something that you are not aware you possess.
Girls who are fortunate enough to share open communication with both their mother and father are less likely to engage in drug use, recreational alcohol use and sexual promiscuity at an early age. There is an epidemic in this country with more and more children in their early teens, as young as 12 and 13, who are engaging in adult behaviors such as oral sex and sexual intercourse. Young girls are especially at harm when engaging in these activities, as they are frequently being pressured by boys their age to do these things for approval. In a recent HBO documentary, 13 year old girls were discussing their capriciousness in engaging in oral sex with boys for the purposes of gaining love, approval, a boyfriend and/or popularity among their peers. This is no longer just an urban problem, as suburban kids in middle to upper middle class families are engaging in such activities in epidemic numbers. The emotional and psychological harm caused by such premature sexual promiscuity is enormous. The discrepancy is as follows: young boys are engaging in such activity for sexual gratification. Girls are engaging in this activity for love and approval. Towards the end of the documentary, a sex education professional held a seminar for a group of parents who feared that their child could be having sex too soon. During the seminar, there was some very relevant information imparted to these concerned parents. The information imparted to them was that lack of talking about sex in the household equals more early promiscuity while talking about sex in the household in an open and safe way results in children waiting longer to become sexually active. Both the mother and the father should create an open environment in which their daughters can talk about sex, sexual peer pressure, and have their questions answered about what they are learning on the street from their peers.
The victim mentality is another concept that must be abolished in young woman in order for them to grow as human beings. Taking responsibility for one's actions in crucial for proper development and self esteem. Being emotionally responsible means taking full responsibility for one's actions and not feeling internally or externally victimized by a decision that does not pan out to our liking. Whether it be a romantic scenario, financial, spiritual, family oriented, friendship oriented or a career decision. While men are encouraged to own up to their decisions and foul ups, women are often encouraged to back away from a poor decision and claim victimization. There is more self worth to be gained by acknowledging and owning one's own decisions, for better or for worse.
This is the new code of rules and ethics for raising girls 2 women in the new millennium, as I see it.