Having a public forum means that not everyone is going to like what I have to say or agree with me all of the time.
But, if anyone read my post from yesterday and thought I was attacking the school behind the advertising campaign, then I want to set you straight.
Mercy Academy is a top-notch school. Though I didn’t attend, I know from other experiences (friends who’ve gone there, working closely with the school via the Admissions office of a local university, etc.) that Mercy produces intelligent, capable, hard-working, compassionate, talented women. They educate the girl- mind, body, and spirit, and when she leaves, she is a woman ready to take on the world.
That was never in question. So, if somehow what I shared about my dislike for the ad campaign made you feel like I was bashing the school, please know that was not the case.
After hitting the publish button on anything that might spark controversy, I often find myself sick to my stomach. But, I believe it is important to start the conversation. I’m entirely okay with others who disagree with me, as long as we can engage in respectful dialogue.
When someone challenges my viewpoint in a respectful way, I believe I must listen and, if necessary, do some more thinking, praying, and investigating.
And you know what?
The message from my post yesterday and Mercy’s ad campaign have a very similar bottom line. We both agree that girls must be able to take care of themselves, think for themselves, and believe in themselves.
We both agree that girls must be prepared for the real world, not the world of make- believe that the whole of society (not just princess stories) sells them from an early age.
And so, with that part of the ad campaign, I wholeheartedly agree.
On the surface, the message is clever. It is a breath of fresh air in our self-centered culture. And frankly, I think that’s why it’s gained national attention.
But, I still have beef with the ad campaign. I’ve always seen the world from a slightly different point of view, though. If I pretend to agree with the mainstream when I really don’t, I am not being true to myself. Which, I believe, is a crucial part of the message from the ad campaign (no?).
I believe girls need to be empowered for sure. And an all-girls school is guaranteed to provide that. But, I also think telling a girl that she can “rule the world” is another fantasy not so different from her being a princess. That is a lie- one that my all-girls school also told me. A lie that our society tries to get all of us (not just girls) to believe.
But the truth is, we can’t rule the world. And we can’t have it all. And more importantly, we shouldn’t.
Just a few days ago, I wrote a post about allowing our children to be disappointed, and I think that goes hand in hand with all of this. As a society, we no longer let our children fail. We don’t let them be disappointed. We don’t teach them to delay gratification. We don’t let them make mistakes. We don’t teach them right from wrong.
We dote on them and spoil them. We teach them to be self-centered rather than selfless. We teach them to get ahead at all costs. We don’t tell them “no.”
And yet, we shift the blame and make excuses. Institutions are forced to swoop in and do the job of the parent. We complain until we’re blue in the face about the current state of our youth and our culture, but until we address the problem, get to the root of it, and solve it, our society is only going to continue to spiral downward.
If we wait until girls are in high school, it’s too late. If they’ve been spoiled and doted on by their parents their entire life, nothing is going to make them change.
And the girls who are going to thrive at the school, believe in (and embrace) the ad campaign, and live it once they are there, are the girls whose parents have already taught them they are not a princess and the world is not their oyster.
I know parenting looks different in a lot of homes. I know that from where I stand, I am the product of excellent child-rearing. I was given a great example and now I parent my children with a similar mindset. I know there are parents who didn’t have what I had. And don’t have what I have now. I am not so closed-minded that I can’t admit there are some things that are truly out of a parent’s control. There are some parents that don’t have the resources to be the parent they want to be.
But, honestly, that’s an entirely different issue. While it certainly needs to be addressed and those parents need to be offered resources and assistance, those aren’t the parents or the children I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the parents who can provide for their child’s every want, need, and whim. And do.
When, exactly, will we start requiring more of those parents? When will we raise our expectations for them? When will we, as a society, put pressure on parents to teach their children that the world doesn’t revolve around them? To let their children not only make mistakes, but clean up their own messes, too. To make them work for the things they want. To have higher expectations, stricter rules, consequences, and consistent follow-through.
Everything, and I mean everything, begins at home.
When will we, as a society, accept that and do something about it?
I applaud Mercy for making such a bold leap in the right direction. At least they are not sitting around complaining, and instead, are taking action against a culture of “me, me, me.”
And while I think, some of their ad campaign still has that “me, me, me” mentality repackaged and spun more positively, I think they are on the right track. And although, they missed the mark for someone like me (and let’s face it, I am a consumer here, too), they hit the nail on the head for others who really needed to hear that message.
This might have to be a time where some of us must put our differences in opinion aside and work together for the common good. Our society is in desperate need of change.
And there’s STILL so much to be done.
Life happens when we work together to change the world.