My dd is 15.5, and I feel like I've been coming up against expectations and rules that still differ for boys and girls. Do you ever feel stymied by other parents or cultural expectations in your efforts to raise a confident, adventurous young woman?
Been thinking a lot about it lately because my dd is set to go on an adventure to another city this weekend with a couple of her homeschool friends. They'll be taking a bus to another part of the state and meeting up with a family there whom we know well. The kids will be attending two days of a con, then coming home. The two friends she's going with are boys, and in the trip planning, I've heard a certain sentiment more than once: "Well, since (dd) is a girl, we want to make sure you're comfortable/we want her to be safe." There never seems to be the same sentiment aimed at the boys, even though my dd is physically as big and strong as they are, and at least as confident. The fact that I'm hearing this from fellow moms who are competent women in their own right has made me curious. How much of a double standard is still present with teenagers, especially in regards to "free-range" parenting? Do you give your girls the same freedoms you do (or would) a boy, and why or why not?
When I talk to some other parents of kids our age (especially parents of boys), and I say something that I'm letting my dd do, I often get a wide-eyed look of "And you're ok with that?!" and when I say "Sure, we've been building up to it and she's very trustworthy," they cluck and say "oh, you're so brave," and I feel the subtext is that I'm too permissive. Yet their boys are encouraged in the same freedoms. It makes me wonder how much of the old-fashioned condemnation of girls being too free or too wild or running around like boys is still ingrained in our culture, even in socially progressive areas like ours. I honestly never thought in this day and age that girls would still be expected to be sheltered, protected, coddled more than boys, and that parents who trusted their girls to have some (appropriate, safe) freedom to make their own decisions would be considered lacking. I also think there's a bit of sexual intent there -- they worry that girls, if not protected, will be sexual, or are "easy" or slutty or whatever.
I don't want to ignore the very real fact that women are more likely than men to be sexually or physically assaulted, but I don't want to let it rule our lives either. DD has had self-defense training, and she's very cautious about protecting her own physical space. She's been talking a lot lately about wanting to attend our next "Take Back the Night" rally, as she finds it unfair that women face more dangers than men.
In short, though, I feel sometimes there's an inference that by letting dd do the same things the boys her age do that I'm an irresponsible parent. Do you treat your girls differently than boys? Should you?