We don’t go in much for parenting advice here at One Thing New, probably because we've heard too much of it (often unsolicited!) ourselves.
But last week I went to a lecture by Simone Marean, co-founder and executive director of the Girls Leadership Institute, who gave a talk on raising resilient girls to an audience of about 100 Marin County parents (mostly mothers). Marean has been teaching girls across the country how to be themselves and have messy relationships for 15 years. Along with day camps, weekend sessions and summer camps for girls, Marean also holds parent-daughter workshops.
Her advice struck me as not only unconventional but downright reasonable—a combination I wish I didn't see quite so often! In the spirit of this upcoming Mothers' Day, I thought I'd share what I learned from Marean about raising strong, resilient girls – and how I'm putting her advice into action.
When it comes to success, happiness, and the resilience of girls, Marean urges us not to believe everything we hear. While study after study shows girls get better grades and attend college in greater numbers than boys every year, they're also twice as likely to suffer anxiety and depression than boys. In 2015, despite access to expanding opportunities, increasing pressure to be everything from beautiful to brilliant to happy all the time (i.e., Amal Clooney) make it harder than ever to be a girl. When asked to describe the perfect girl, across the country girls create some version of the following list: she’s pretty, organized and busy, she get’s perfect grades and she is an athlete.
So what’s wrong with aspiring to that list? Well, it's impossible. And striving for that level of perfection is crippling. This Super Girl may look good on the outside, but Marean says that on the inside she is risk-averse, afraid to say what she thinks, shies away from conflict and is disconnected from her feelings.
Yes, that's covered, and yes, it's free. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, requires that health insurance companies cover women’s health services at no cost beyond premium payments. Two recent reports show that many insurance companies are flaunting this law, which has been in force since 2010. Kaiser Health News reports that, "Researchers examined publicly available documentation for more than 100 separate policies in 15 states for plan years 2014 and 2015, including plans in states running their own insurance exchanges and those using the federal HealthCare.gov. It found that more than half of the plan documents described coverage at odds with the health law.” Insurers either say they don’t cover specific items, such as IUDs, or they require a co-pay, both of which are illegal. If you run into such a road block, the National Women’s Law Center advises you to call the insurer immediately. If that doesn’t work, reach out to NWLC’s CoverHer hotline.
That mani/pedi costs more than we think. In The Price of Nice Nails, the New York Times writes that workers in nail salons are routinely exploited and underpaid. Of about 100 manicurists interviewed by the times, only a quarter said they were paid even minimum wage; many worked only for tips and had to pay the salon owners $100 to work out of the salon. The odds are, said the times, that if you're going to a place with rock-bottom prices, the manicurists' wages are being stolen. The solutions are imperfect: Ask your manicurist how much she's being paid; look for a time clock, which at least suggests that hours are being tracked; and be prepared to pay more.