A friend of mine from college is worried that she is being a bad role model for her preschool-aged daughter because her daughter thinks that women are ‘just’ moms and don’t typically work. Her daughter has already decided not to have a career when she grows up. My friend plans to resume her career after her daughter starts school, but for now is a so-called stay-at-home mom.
I wish she wouldn't worry about this. Over the years, her daughter will see many women doing many different jobs, and will come to understand her options and choices.
This conversation reminded me of an incident from when my daughter was in preschool years ago. One day as I dropped her off at preschool, one of her friends said to me “You drove a car here.” I replied “No, actually we came by helicopter today. We always take the helicopter on Thursdays.” The little girl was not to be deterred from what she knew to be a fact, and she said again “You drove. In a car. I saw you driving.” Having little choice, I admitted to this, and, since it was not particularly interesting, tried to change the subject.
But the little girl persisted. “You drove.” Yes, I drove. “You drove a car.” Yes, I drove a car. I asked her why she kept talking about my driving. Lots of parents drove their kids to preschool. It would be a very long walk from our home. The little girl said “But moms don’t drive.”
Aha. Her mother didn’t drive, a fact of which I had been unaware, so in her universe, moms didn’t drive. Until she happened to see me driving that day, she had never noticed that some (in fact, most) moms drive cars. It had not occurred to her that any moms drive. I was stunned and she was stunned and my daughter seized the opportunity to try to convince her friend that her cats also drove cars.
Today, this little girl would probably be very surprised if I reminded her of this story. Of course women drive! Her universe has expanded, as will that of my friend’s daughter.
8 months ago