Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection

and how dads can help

I am 37 years old, consider myself to be brave, a risk-taker, adventurous.  I try to teach my only daughter to be brave, to disregard what other people think, please stay true to your inner heart where God dwells.

But still I struggle daily with feelings of inferiority that culture settles on my shoulders, subtly pressing down secretly growing heavier.  Some days I realize that my dreams are hiding in the junk drawer with courage as their companion.  Some days I happen upon them, fiddle with them a bit, write a bit, open up a bit, speak truth a bit.  Then get distracted when daily tasks demand attention, and out into the world I go, passively accepting the feminine place without even knowing it.

I believe our culture unintentionally teaches kids to strive for perfection, and yet also intentionally teaches them to be well rounded. 

I believe God created all people equal.  Men and women.  Little girls and little boys.  All colors.  All races.  All people.  I believe our culture is shifting closer to that and yet unfortunately along the way is dropping ethical morale by the street.  (But that's another story.)

This morning I watched a TED talk by Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, entitled, "Teach Girls Bravery, not Perfection."  I highly recommend all parents of daughters, all teachers, ministry leaders, and lovers of little ladies to watch it.  I love that it encourages girls to gain a more substantial place in technology development, but I mostly love Reshma's heart to teach girls how to be courageous and brave instead of feeling we must, as women, always attain perfection.  Look perfect, speak perfect, work perfect, love perfect.  It's stifling to say the least, and crushes bravery with the fear of failure before she can even step out the door.

I pray for courage - so much courage that my daughter feels it's normal to be brave.  I pray for a supportive network of courageous women and girls to cheer her on.  I'm thankful for her courageous father whose belief in her is a strong foundation.  

Perhaps it is the dads and men who can first show courage and give blessing to their daughters to be exactly who God called them to be in this world. May they throw their daughters into the air and watch them fly.  May they be there when they crash, only to help them back up again.

May the dads tuck their little girls in each night and remind them not just who they are, but whose they are.  You belong to God.  He made you perfect.  Flawless.  And with purpose.  So in that promise you can run and not grow weary - you can try and not be judged - you can fail and try again - you can fall and be forgiven.  You will be loved no matter what.  I believe in you.  I trust you.  I am proud of you.

May our men be our greatest cheerleaders.  Dads, husbands, brothers, even bosses.

*Photo taken by Natalie Watson in 2004.  My husband swinging his baby girl, who is now 13.


"Women have been socialized to aspire to perfection and are overly cautious... therefore we take less risks in our careers...
...For the american economy, for any economy to grow, to truly innovate, we cannot leave behind half our population.  We have to socialize our girls to be comfortable with imperfection and we gotta do it now!  We cannot wait for them to learn how to be brave (like me, when i was 33 years old).  We have to teach them to be brave in schools and early in their careers when it has the most potential to impact their lives and the lives of others.  And we have to show them that they will be loved and accepted not for being perfect but for being courageous."
“...because when we teach girls to be imperfect and we help them leverage it we will build a movement of young women who are brave and who will build a better world for themselves and for each and every one of us."

Quotes by Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code in her March 2016 TED talk

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