banning the word bossy raising little girls

How Do You Feel About the Word Bossy in Your Home?

Posted on Posted in Blog, Parenting's Not Easy

How Do You Feel About the Word Bossy in Your Home?

Our youngest didn't always have a lot to say.  When she was a toddler her older siblings did a lot of the talking for her.  So, the last few years I've encouraged the other two to not jump over her words when she begins to say something.  To listen to her! Thankfully, she has come out of her shell and somehow become my echo.  If I tell one to cut off a light, pick something up and they are not quick to do it the youngest will quickly follow up with,
‘Did you hear mommy? You need to…’. 
While I think her ‘mommy’ echoes are cute, from time to time, the older two out of nowhere have begun to refer to their little sister as ‘bossy’.  When they do my youngest looks at me to see if in fact she has said or done something wrong.    
Recently in the news Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has led a campaign to ban the word bossy.  On the bandwagon are superstar women like Beyoncé, Condoleezza Rice and organizations like Girl Scouts of America.  Proponents of banning the word bossy say that the word brings on negative connotations of girls as out of line and seemingly downright ‘unlady-like’ when they tell people what to do.  However, when boys tell people what to do they are complimented on their leadership skills, not given a ‘Who do you think you are?’ attitude for doing so.
The New Yorker’s Margaret Talbot argued that the word bossy in fact should not be banned.  Talbot argues that women should re-define the way bossy is used ‘against’ girls.  Much in the same way that people have tried to re-shape  words like nerd or geek as not a bad, but a ‘good thing’. 
I guess I am in the middle when it comes to banning the word bossy.  After listening to both sides I feel:
  1. Bossy is not necessarily a bad word, unless it’s used to refer to someone negatively, i.e. ‘Who do you think you are?’ (envision hands on hips, attitude in neck)
  2. I am not necessarily  banning the word bossy, but rather the use of it as a weapon against another. 
The older two still call their little sister bossy.  I figure that even if I tell them not to say it, they will anyway when  am not looking.  Now when we all jump in the car  and the youngest tells everyone to buckle up, if I hear her siblings call her bossy I let them all know that she is exhibiting characteristics of a leader.  My youngest smiles when I say that, instead of looking at me as if she’s done something wrong,  .


Are you banning the use of the word ‘bossy’ in your house?

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