Smart Like Daddy, Pretty Like Mommy…

18 Mar

When I was a young girl I idolized my father. He defended cases in court, worked in a big downtown office and drove a BMW. It was obvious he had the power whereas my divorced mother did not. Her work as a college admissions counselor was more of a job than a career and her alcoholism, combined with low self-esteem, eclipsed her natural intelligence. I wanted to be the spitting image of my father and to completely disassociate myself from my mother. In fact, I used to think that maybe the babies got scrambled at the hospital.


I am not unique in this worship of the father. My best friend claims that she too looked to her father, a high powered physician as a role model and not towards her mother.

The problem with this is that my best friend and I are not male. We are female. And at some point in the game, it would have been nice to have been looking towards our mothers as well. Instead, I’d try to surround myself around powerful men thinking some of their magic abilities would rub off on me. It doesn’t work that way…. All of us have to find our specialness within which is a gift from God that moves from the inner to the outer so that we can make this world a better place.

In Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” she gives an example of how insidious gender socialization is even in today’s world. She writes: “Gymboree once sold onesies proclaiming ‘Smart Like Daddy’ for boys and ‘Pretty Like Mommy’ for girls. That same year, J.C. Penny marketed a T-shirt to teenage girls that bragged,’I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.’ These things did not happen in 1951. They happened in 2011.”

I can relate for as much as I wanted to be powerful like my father, I also remember watching t.v. as a youngster wanting to be Miss Universe and aspiring to be “pretty” when I grew up.


Thankfully, time, wisdom and healing has helped reveal to me the real beauty that was my mother when she was alive. I see that my intellectual genetics came from both my mother and father and that had my mom been raised under a different set of circumstances, her life might have been different. All of us have struggles whether they result from gender inequities or other battles we’re facing on the internal front lines of our psyches. Men too have to fight insecurities and obstacles to embracing who they are in this world.

But seriously – I look more like my father than my mother and am probably more like my mother than my father in nature. And it’s all good. What would you like printed on your children’s T-shirts?

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