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Meet the new girl: Parenting a gender-neutral generation

meet the new girl
On baseball fields across the country, girls are taking their turns at bat — on the same teams as boys. Toy labs are creating girl versions of trucks and cars for kids as young as 12 months.

In Washington, women hold more congressional seats than ever. They’re flooding into colleges and grad schools, and studying subjects, such as medicine and law, that were almost entirely dominated by guys just a generation or two ago.
Our kids are growing up in an increasingly gender-neutral environment very different from our own. So how do we prepare them for … well, who knows?

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Females tend to attribute loss and errors to themselves rather than to external factors,” says sports psychologist Caroline Silby. So take extra care to teach your mini-Mia Hamm that she doesn’t have to be so hard on herself when things don’t go her way. “I tell parents to always say ‘Good effort!’ after a game, even if their child doesn’t win,” says Judy Vredenburgh, founder of Girls Inc., an organization that offers programs to empower today’s young women.

“Pick out something specific that your child did well, or better than she did the last time she played: ‘You did a great job of passing the ball’ or ‘That was a really nice try you made at the free-throw line.’ ” And talk about what else was going on that might have ultimately turned the tide against her and her teammates — “Wow, the other team’s new coach seems to have taught them a few extra moves!”
Yet it’s not just about helping your child play as enthusiastically and guilt-free as the boys; it’s still also about making sure she acts like a modern-day lady on and off the field. Meaning? Let her know that “You are not responsible for the feelings of others, but you certainly can take actions that allow you to be respectful of your teammates, friends, self and rules of the game,” Silby says.


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