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Our perfect girls

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I was reading the New York Times this weekend. (That doesn't make me a bad person, does it?) There was an interesting article about American teenage girls and how they are trying so desperately to be perfect. If they have a 3.98 GPA, that's not enough. If they have good grades and play one sport, they should play two. If they do both of those things but don't volunteer, then they might not get accepted to the college they long to attend.

I thought about my own 16-year-old, Ashley, and the stress she is experiencing at the end of her junior year in high school. Watching her doubt her abilities, I've tried to remember - did I feel this way? I don't remember fearing getting into college. In fact, I don't think I took it seriously enough until it was upon me. But then, I wouldn't be accepted to many schools now if I were to apply. I don't think that's faulty memory - I think it was easier to get in back then.

I suppose I blog today because I want to understand how to encourage my daughter to "be all she can be" without adding to the stress she so clearly and painfully feels. When is it enough for our girls? When can they just stop worrying about college admissions? How do I counsel her about the prom or how many hours she should work? What is balance for a 16-year-old today?

I want to value productivity, but I want to value daydreams too. I want to value walking the dog and staring out the window. Can I value those things and teach my kids to value those things when the world is flat and competition is nipping at our heels?

I look forward to reading your wisdom if you have the time to share.


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Amanda Dickson


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