A common scene for me: baby on my hip, an obedient 6-year-old standing quietly at my side and the wild one over there refusing to leave, laying on the ground screaming, "NO!!"
A common response from kind moms taking pity on me: You know that just means one day, she'll be a leader.
While I'll take all the sympathy I can get for the defiant three-year-old over there making things really challenging, I am starting to worry for my six-year-old. Will she hear that comment about her rambunctious sister so often that she'll believe it's true? That to lead you must be the loudest? Or break the most rules? Or be the most stubborn?
My six-year-old is none of those things, but she is so many things that will make her an equally effective leader one day. She is kind and empathetic. She's curious. She's ridiculously creative.
I think somewhere along the way, the leadership message for young girls has been boiled down so far that it's now casually defined as: Defiance = Independence = Leader. But I'd like to propose that we focus on this instead:
All Girls Can.
My daughters have shirts with that saying, and it's my favorite. (Thanks Cat & Jack). I believe in all three of my daughters' abilities to be leaders one day. I think despite vastly different personalities and strengths, they will be equally effective in the right roles. Their inherent characteristics will be their greatest tools—all of which need embraced and nurtured.
For my six-year-old it's empathy, creativity and compassion. (much like her mama) For my three-year-old it's humor, decisiveness and passion. (much like her daddy) For my nine-month-old, it's TBD. (but whatever it is, it will be just what she needs)
So while I love you, mama, for trying to bring me comfort (and I so appreciate the only nice comment you could possibly make about my daughter over there standing her ground). Next time I will point to the six-year-old at my side and gently remind you (and her) that she'll be a leader one day, too.
This post was originally posted on the author's blog: Please Bring Coffee.