In episode 63, These Strategies Will Help You Raise Great Kids, of our podcast, This Grit and Grace Life, Darlene Brock, co-founder and president of The Grit and Grace Project, shares some of her own parenting experiences and snippets of wisdom from her new book, Raising Great Girls. Having raised two caring and successful daughters of her own, Darlene penned her book in the hopes of encouraging other moms to push past the difficulties that often come with cultivating young ladies (or young men!).
In Raising Great Girls, Darlene outlines various job descriptions, like Creative Counselor and Coach, that a parent must assume in order to mold a balanced daughter. She breaks down three of these job titles within the podcast and underscores their importance with a comical retelling of memories; she also takes a deep dive into some more serious topics. Below are segments from the podcast where Darlene talks with Julie, giving other moms tips for stepping into these roles and explains how they can be used to raise great girls.
“You have to be the coach of your child. Coaches—they’re the ones that inspire the team, they make the rules, they set the pace, and they bench their players. Let’s say you have a two-year-old who you are shopping with, and of course, what do they do but (have) a complete meltdown. So, is it their sin nature showing its ugly head? Or is it that you haven’t fed them recently because you’ve had too many things to do and you forgot lunch? Or are they exhausted?
So, as a coach you kind of have to go, all right, do I need to just reset this play? Do I need to take them home and put him to bed? Or do I need to bench them because this is blatant disobedience? So, you know, in any situation you kind of have to look at it and determine which action you take as the coach of your child.
I think sometimes we get so focused on what they’re doing right or wrong, that we’re not spending the necessary time to build who they are. You know, who they are will determine whether they act right or wrong. It’s like when you coach a player and you build their individual talents, then they become a better player. I think as a mother you do the same thing. You are looking to … are they kind? Even though they left their toy in the store and you have to go back and find it. Are they thoughtful? Are they compassionate? Is their tenderheartedness putting them in situations that you wish they weren’t, but you want them to be tenderhearted at the same time? You want to guide them around things or experiences they may not need to be in.
Some children need to feel encouraged and supported and they respond to that more than they do parameters or discipline or actions. I think it is individualizing how you handle every single child that you have.”
Professor of Gender Studies
“I think with girls in this season, the Professor of Gender Studies is really important. Because we have so many influences coming at them on what a woman should or shouldn’t be, what a woman looks like, and it may or may not be what you think you want your daughter to grow up perceiving.
We believe that women are equal. But unfortunately, it’s been interpreted quite often as we’re exactly alike or should be alike or should be antagonistic toward the other gender. I’m saying, number one, it’s not a competition between genders. One doesn’t have to be superior over the other. We are equals, so we’re in it together. And, two, just because you are a woman doesn’t mean you do or don’t have to do whatever and abandon either your heart or your nature or what God created every woman to be, and that’s something very unique. I think we need to teach our daughters that it is wonderful to be a woman.
I think that with our daughters especially, we need to raise them to respect everyone, and at the same time to treasure their own worth, to understand that they are unique and have their own abilities and gifts. The gender studies thing doesn’t exclude the fact that they may actually be able to fix the car. It doesn’t mean they can’t break out the miter saw. It doesn’t mean that they can’t be a lawyer.
If moms don’t take anything else from this book, I want them to know motherhood is a job they can do. They won’t do it perfectly. I didn’t. They won’t do it like every other mom. They shouldn’t. They need to be their mom for their daughter. And that’s all!
The other thing that has really come on in the last few years is gender fluidity and the fact that genders cannot be defined or shouldn’t be defined, that there is a choice within it. I’m sorry, there’s not. One thing that I do unpack in the book is the fact that biologically we are different. Okay. Physically we’re different, not just our DNA, but even the way we’re made physically. We’ve always said male/female, and now we’re trying to say that’s not true. I think that’s kind of sad because I think we should treasure the fact that we are each made unique and different gender-wise so we can complement one another. Fighting over if you’re going to choose your gender—it’s not in any way reality or truth.
I did not want to write any of this to get into an argument or a fight or an “I’m right or you’re wrong.” I really wanted to just say, “Moms, here are some reasons why you feel the way you do and you want to present to your daughter the way you want to present. Here are some of the facts that you can.” But, that doesn’t mean you’re going to go beat somebody else up for their attitudes. That simply means you’re raising your daughter with what you believe to be true.”
“One of my favorites, when I was raising my girls, is what I called Creative Counselor. That is helping each daughter find her gifts and talents and interests and nurturing her creativity or whatever that she pursued and recognizing that it didn’t have to be who I was. It didn’t have to be what my mother or another woman in our life thought my daughters should be. It is going, “Oh, okay. You, Loren, look at you. You love these things. Well, let’s just keep going with them. And you, Chelsea, your talents and temperament lean this way. Well, let’s see what kind of mining I can do of what your interests are.”
“Because you are a woman doesn’t mean you do or don’t have to abandon either your heart or your nature or what God created every woman to be, and that’s something very unique. I think we need to teach our daughters that it is wonderful to be a woman.” Darlene Brock
Now, both of my girls as adults, one is in film, which in the other episode you’ll hear a little bit about; the other is a school teacher. They both have followed their hearts and their abilities. But while they were growing up, we were building our businesses and I was working full time. It could have been very easy for me, of my generation, to look at my daughters and say, “If you’re going to be a stay-at-home mom, you might be shortchanging yourself because look at the full life that I’ve had in the career that I’ve built.” Instead, I wanted them to be whatever and pursue whatever they were supposed to do. I think that’s part of it, is if you’re a mother who stayed home and raised your children, but you end up having a career daughter who wants to be a lawyer, be okay with that. Just because they don’t do it like you is probably a good thing. If you have raised them to follow their own path, you’ve done a good job.
I don’t think you put them in everything and enroll them in everything because you will simply lose your mind. We’ve all lost our minds at various times. You observe them; you give them opportunities to see and experience things. You take them to a play and see if they’re bored out of their minds and ready to leave. You let them go outside and do they go to the basketball goal or do they go to the sidewalk chalk? Do they take apart their toys and rebuild them?
Let the natural things in life help you point them in direction. So, if they go out and do the sidewalk chalk, if they love the art projects: well, find some art classes to put them in. If they want to tackle the neighbor boys or their brothers in a football game, then put them in athletics. You know? But don’t think you have to put them in an art class, and a music class, and sign them up for tee-ball.
And I do want to tell moms that if they don’t take anything else from this book, I want them to know it’s a job they can do. They won’t do it perfectly. I didn’t. They won’t do it like every other mom. They shouldn’t. They need to be their mom for their daughter. And that’s all. And they’re going to get it right.”
For more articles with encouragement on raising daughters, start with this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: How Can You Raise Great Girls? Darlene’s Daughters Tell All – 054