Do we default to teaching girls to be helpful, instead of working to earn a living?
Caveat: I have no sons, I was not born nor raised a boy; my experience is based on having brothers and brothers-in-law.
I’m packing up my house to move, so I offered the girls R100 each if they would help me. Elder Spawn naturally threw herself into packing up the stuff in the garage, while Younger Spawn did sweet F.A. When I gave Elder Spawn her money, she said to me, “I did it because I wanted to help you, not so much for the money.”
And yeah, my first instinct is to go, “Aw …. that’s sweet.” But I didn’t, because it’s not exactly true.
It’s just that somewhere along the line she’s learned that it makes her look better if it’s not about the money. Being helpful is great, I want to encourage my kids to help others, but at the same time, this was above and beyond her regular chores, and a fair amount of work..
Why am I encouraging her to justify earning money by using some “I’m just being kind” excuse?
So instead I told her that it’s NEVER wrong to work hard to earn money, and that anyone who tells her differently is lying to her. Because if she grows up with the attitude that her work is only valid if she does it because she’s being helpful and kind, and the money she gets is incidental, wtf am I teaching her about her value to society?
Shut up, smile, serve up dinner, wash the dishes and SMILE SMILE SMILE because that’s your worth: serving people. And you better enjoy it.
We don’t teach sons that. We teach them to work for what they want. We teach them to value themselves, their efforts, and to earn what they deserve. We teach them to ask for raises because they worked for them, not to play this game where they pretend it’s ok to earn less because their work is somehow less important.
But what do we say to our daughters?
You girls, you be helpful.
And maybe we’ll reward you.