I am a sucker for Disney and Pixar movies. I love that the cartoons are written for both children and adults and, ultimately, that I know all will end well within the 90-120 minutes, the bad guys (or girls) will get their just desserts, and the good guys (or girls) will learn to believe in themselves, will help one another, and will be rewarded for working hard and learning. However, my most favorite Disney movie is Brave. Here you have a teenage girl with wonderfully wacky red hair that defies restraint, who is built like a teenage girl (ala the shape of an ironing board), is skilled at archery, has a wonderful relationship with her horse, and is forever butting heads with her mother. What female among us didn’t struggle with her mother – at least a little? I, for one, fought with my mother all of the time. (Yes, I’ve apologized for it countless times since then.)
When I went away to college, I experienced that amazing insight one only gains upon leaving home – all of a sudden, I missed my parents and found that I had been blessed with a mom who’d cared about me. At that time, way, way back…back before we had email or cell phones with texting…we college students truly LIVED for letters and care packages. My mom wrote to me all of the time. She sent care packages with stamps, quarters (for the laundry), microwave popcorn, and the like. I found that I could talk to her in a way that I never could when I was in junior high or high school.
I now work with some parents who have teenage girls and wow – talk about flashbacks!!! I have tried to remind my friends that we did the same thing! It WILL get better! 🙂 And, to encourage them to try to find ways to build bridges and spend one-on-one time together doing things (that their daughters actually like).
But, maybe what we need to do is focus on building our girls up. Even as we know our girls are strong and opinionated and athletic and smart – at least when they’re with us – we nonetheless need to offer them ways to feel empowered, to express their fears, to deal with frustrations et al. There’s a woman on Instagram and elsewhere named Jennifer Pastiloff who leads different workshops about being “enough.” One of them is focused on girls and young women called “Girl Power: You Are Enough.” Some of the things that Jen says are a bit much – like, “Don’t be an asshole to yourself.” I get her sentiment, but I just feel like there are ways we can talk to young women that are more positive. Enter Brave – a girl learns that she has the power within her to chase after her dreams and make her own destiny.
I used to dream about being “magically transformed” from an awkward dateless teen weirdo to a beautiful, in-shape, sought-after young woman… There were certainly TONS of teen novels, t.v. shows, and t.v. movies telling that story. Here was this “ugly duckling” who was revealed to be an amazing swan underneath. But – all along, all girls and boys are beautiful in their own way. They will evolve in their own ways. They will learn and grow and develop. They each have something amazing and special to give to the world. ALL of them have value.
So, moms and dads – teens – be brave… (now, I’ve got to get my tissues out because I’m watching another Disney movie, or maybe something on the Hallmark channel).