As a mother, have you ever felt jealous of your gifted daughter? Have you ever felt like she has it all, she is young with endless possibilities in front of her, or living in times when women are increasingly empowered? Have you, sometimes, even felt like undermining her?
Then, you are not alone.
Bright young women can catalyse intense feelings in their mothers. They are intense, strong-willed, creative, smart and sensitive, and seem to have integrated both masculine and feminine traits in a way that can allow them to reach self-fulfillment, self-independence, self-expression as future grown-women.
Never have opportunities been so many than at this time in history. Think about it: women can now live on their own, pursue a career that they choose, they can divorce without experiencing a strong a stigma such as their mothers did, they can decide not to have children, they can shatter the glass ceiling, and they can (fill in the blank).
If you watched the movie ‘On the Basis of Sex,’ depicting the path of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you could not help but feel startled at the different environment women lived in 50 years ago, and the environment we live in today.
Needless to remind you of the corsets our predecessors were imprisoned into, the glass ceilings, the prejudice that prevented women from even dreaming of what a self-chosen life would look like. Women were expected to conform and not to make too much noise, they were implicitly asked to follow their husband and father, to bend and swallow their individuality. Sometimes, a black sheep would venture beyond the family and society paradigm to explore life on her own – but at what cost? In a modern version of being ‘burnt at the stake’, this courageous female would have to bear with judgmental looks, unsaid and silent opinions of those who did not dare, even smearing campaigns preventing her from rising. What a stress, pressure and burden to carry, for just being herself…
How sad to think that often, those attacks came from other women whose grief, anger, feelings of powerlessness and self-disappointment were so strong that their only outlet was to consistently sabotage those female trail-blazers.
In this context isn’t it natural that mothers of bright daughters experience feelings of sadness and anger when they look at their child’s or teenage daughter’s promises?
Yet, while it is only normal and understandable to want your daughter’s life, to want to start it all again, to want to scream at her that she lucky when you were not, it is not fair, nor acceptable, to express those feelings and let those patterns speak in ways that are hurtful to your child.
Yes, your daughter is young, her skin is glowing and fresh, she has support, our society has evolved in the way it views children’s education and girls’ education, but is she responsible for what you did not experience? Is it her fault if you feel dissatisfied with certain aspects of your life and would like to tear it apart?
While all those feelings cannot be denied or brushed away, they invite you to look deeper into yourself. Your daughter invites you to examine your unlived life and face all the ways you abandoned yourself – whether it is by not speaking up, by following others’ opinions, or by talking yourself out of your most ardent dreams.
From this standpoint, can’t you see what a gift your daughter is giving you?
Yes, it will take courage and commitment to yourself to face the pain and inner misery ; yes, it will take changing your habits and your thoughts about life’s possibilities – but, isn’t it worth it?
You have the choice: keep on the dance as you always did, or turn inward and start the journey of personal revolution.
Can you share your underlying fears and perceived limitations? Your sharing will allow others to see that they are not as alone as they might think.
Marion Franc offers different services to support intuitive and talented children, teenagers, and their parents work with their child’s sensitivities and abilities. She works with families in Paris, and via phone/skype – in English, French and Spanish. To explore working together, please send an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Caring for the Gifted Child