As a young girl I was given lots of advice. From friends, family, school teachers, enemies, everyone. Some subtle and some overt but most failed to hit the target, me. Much of what I’ve been able to apply has been after experiencing the thing I was to stay clear of. In some cases it might have been because I’m so hardheaded, but honestly the older I get I’m coming to find that I may not be as hardheaded as I had always been led to believe.
So why haven’t I applied much of the advice given on the first strike? Well, because it was advice with no context. No scenario to show me an example of the advice working or the failure that birthed the advice. Just words of so-called wisdom that someone gained from experience and I was being given it without any idea of how this advice came about or had been experienced. So I really had no idea what to do with the supposed gifts.
I think our daughters in particular get this advice a lot. When we’re warned to stay away from boys, or how to dress, or the importance of being educated and developing our own opinions; it tends to fall flat if there’s no context. How did you learn this? How do you know this works? What happens when this advice isn’t practiced? How do you know?
Have you ever been in a religious setting and someone gave a testimony that sounded like a bunch of linked clichés? Or listened to a song that had lyrics so general it failed to speak to your heart? It’s rather disappointing. My eyes tend to gloss over or I tune out because I’m not sure I relate. It’s the same with advice. Without story, I’m out.
Now that I’m a mother of a little girl, I contemplate what advice I’d give my daughter and how to give it to her in a way that matters to her. My hope is that if I was the mother of a young boy I’d be prompted to think the same. I don’t have a son so I can’t say that for sure. But what I do know is that helping a little girl evolve has me pondering what tools to not only give, but which ones she can make use out of. She will make her own mistakes, but with the right context it may be possible for her to avoid mine.