Thanks Oprah

You might have seen it by now, it’s been going viral online. Oprah’s acceptance speech of the  Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes on Sunday. She has a beautiful way with words but it was more the theme of her speech which had the audience on their feet and me compelled to write.

I’m not a big one for celebrities. I think many are overrated and not necessarily good role models for our children. However there are exceptions, and over the years Oprah has grown on me. Maybe it’s come with her age, or mine, but some of her messages really resonate with me.

There was one line in her speech on Sunday night that reinforced all I’m coming to believe and the real reason I created Girl Empowered.

“…what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” Oprah Winfrey

As Oprah also highlighted, we are moving into a new phase. A time when the power over stance of gender that is so ingrained in cultures across the world is being challenged.

I’ve never considered myself a feminist. But I do believe that women and our girls deserve the same opportunities to shine as their male counterparts. I do believe that women and our girls can create the lives they dream of which may not involve a white picket fence and a prince charming. I do believe that encouraging our girls to speak their truth and develop the confidence in themselves to courageously and vulnerably stand up for their dreams and their true selves is needed. And we need to be women that lift others up, not bitch, complain and sabotage when others are shining, but be inspiring positive role models in our everyday life. Because that’s where the change happens.

So thank you Oprah for being a voice of courage for those who cannot or those who will one day, look back on your moment in that spotlight, and know that it was in those few minutes you inspired them to live their truth and speak and act with courage and compassion.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a link to Oprah’s speech.

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The Grey Space

So, you’ve got to a point where you have this parenting thing mostly figured out.

She’s going well at school and her social group is stable. Maybe she has had a few ups and downs settling into school, but you figure it can only be up from here, right? She’s becoming more independent and both you and her are excited for the middle years of primary school.

Just a heads up. Things might be about to get bumpy! You’re hitting the tween landscape. It’s a bit of a grey space.

There are many reasons that the tween years are like the dark side and we could analyse it using different theories of psychology which all differ and vary.

There was Piaget who recognised that from age seven children encounter a major turning point in a cognitive development. It marks the beginning of logical, or as Piaget called it, Operational Thought. Operational thought means the child can work things out in their head rather than having to physically experience them.

So in effect, you may have a daughter who is still very much viewing the social dynamics in her world through a pre-operational lens (not reading ‘abstract’ social cues or relationship changes) yet her friends have moved into the operational stage. 

Using this theory, we can assume there will be some girls, who are oblivious to the changes until they happen. Until they are left out or the ‘rules’ of how the group work are no longer the same. Then there will be the girls who ARE the change. Who hit their lessons or developmental stages before others and are reading abstract cues early and reacting accordingly.

And all are perfectly imperfect.

So the good news?

Well Vygotsky and his Social Development Theory stressed the fundamental role of social interaction. He believed strongly that community plays a central role in the process of making meaning. In other words, we need social interaction to make meaning of the world and develop higher psychological functions. So, we need to experience a range of social interactions which produce a range of emotions, which may be described as positive or negative, to learn about ourselves and others in order to become capable of deeper thinking.

​​​Or maybe, from a more philosophical or spiritual perspective we can just accept that our daughters (and ourselves) will move through our life lessons as they unfold. They are neither good nor bad, they just are. And the lessons are gifts to help us move further towards being the shiny bright gems that we are meant to be.

Regardless of what resonates with you, you can begin to see and maybe accept that the turbulence you have hit (or maybe it is still coming) is totally normal. There is, or will be, a changing  dynamic in your daughters social group and the way she perceives her outer world.

But we can use these differences and social challenges to begin to teach our girls about changing relationships and how to manage emotions and behaviours to keep their interactions with peers helpful not harmful.
The Grey Space
The natural tendency of the human condition is to try to understand life and control it. And here is where it gets interesting. Naturally there are a variety of ways that young people (and grown ups for that matter) try to deal with various social scenarios and feelings. And, there are a wide variety of socially helpful and socially harmful strategies that girls utilise to regain some sense of control in their social circle.
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So regardless of where you and your daughter are, it’s a huge opportunity for growth when girls are mentored to navigate these changes and learn to trust themselves to confidently grow through it.

Bec x​​​​​​​