Friday, November 22, 2013

Are you raising a Diva?

I was at one of my kids’ schools and in conversation, this little girl says to me, “I’m a diva.”

“I didn’t know you sang opera,” I said.

Of course, the little girl looked at me in confusion.

“Because that’s what divas do,” I further defined. 

“No, I don’t sing opera,” she said, confirming my assumption that she did not.

“Then why do you think you’re a diva?” Well, we know the answer right?

“Because my mom told me I was. She always says I’m such a diva,” she said, with the requisite teeny hand on not-yet existent hip and shake of her braids.

I smiled and nodded, keeping my next thought to myself.  Ahh, so if you aren’t an opera singer, or some other highly accomplished singer, your mother’s proud of you in the urban cultural definition of the word for being a rude, self-indulgent, high maintenance woman?  (You know the one-word synonym that rhymes with “mitch,” but this is a family blog.)

Why? Why, moms, why do we proudly call our little girls “divas,” screenprint it on sweatpants across their little behinds, put them to bed with sleeping masks imprinted with it, and throw them 10-year old diva themed birthday parties? Really? And then we get all mad about our daughters not being taken seriously as students of math, science and technology?  One of my daughter’s friends had a birthday party recently and her theme was “nerdy school girl” and the cake was designed as a stack of books. A little different, but so much better than the diva spa parties that are the new trend.

What are we telling our daughters when we sweetly and proudly call them “diva” when they pitch a fit about eating their dinner or because they didn’t get the pair of jeans they wanted or don’t have the latest iPhone25?  What message are we sending when we, essientally, praise them for such behavior? And then we wonder why when they get to their teen years they are demanding a BMW for their Sweet 16 or continue to throw tantrums when we say “no’?

On large scale, we don’t do this with our boys, right? I don’t even know what you would call a boy who acts in this manner, a “divo” perhaps?  But we do not praise our boys' bad behavior. Unfortunately, our society sometimes labels them for their behavior, but not in a good way, either. (A whole ‘nother discussion.)

We can do better. There is a whole dictionary full of more positive, beautiful images and appellations for our daughters other than high-maintenance, "witchy" women.

Unless, of course, she is channeling Marian Anderson.

Marian Anderson, Lincoln Memorial, Easter Sunday 1939

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