Monday, September 24, 2012

2nd Annual National Take Your Daughter Running Day: Oct 1, 2012



October 1st, 2012 is the 2nd annual "National Take Your Daughter Running Day"!! 

This coming Monday, Oct 1st (Grete Waitz's Birthday) 2012 is "National Take Your Daughter Running Day". Some question whether any such special day is either necessary and/or good, after all, aren't we at a place in time where we don't need these things anymore? More women are now entering races (up to half marathons) than men. It seems we've achieved what we set out to do with Title IX (June 23, 1972)

Am I just hanging onto my old hang ups and perceptions which no longer apply? I ran my first race before Title IX and I was the only girl racing that day. Maybe it's time to just let this go.

Then there's the more troubling question of whether it's even good for me to encourage my daughter to run? Shouldn't I allow her to find her own way, her own passions, on her own? Am I actually hurting her by running with her?? 

Well, I don't think we are anywhere near where we want to be, nor do I think encouraging my daughter to run with me is somehow setting her up for trouble to come.   

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So, to the question: Haven't we achieved what we set out to do 40 years ago? I will answer, NO. Girls are still statistically less active than boys. The Women's Sports Foundation reports that by the age of 14 girls begin dropping out of sports at twice the rate of boys. 

Last year I wrote:
"In a recent Christian Science Monitor article, Little girls or little women: The Disney princess effect, Stephanie Hanes notes that: "Girls are participating in sports at a much increased level in grade school," says Sharon Lamb, a professor of education and mental health at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. But, she adds, they start to drop out of sports at the middle school level when they start to believe that sports are unfeminine and unsexy.
The Women's Sports Foundation found that 6 girls drop out of sports for every 1 boy by the end of high school, and a recent Girl Scout study found that 23 percent of girls between the ages of 11 and 17 do not play sports because they do not think their bodies look good doing so."
We seem to be loosing ground on this, and that may be because we think that there isn't a problem. While we have come a long way since 1972, we still have a long way to go. And certainly the national obesity stats do not point to an active and healthy culture!

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A couple weeks ago Athleta published the piece "Five Reasons to Run with Your Daughter"(http://www.athleta.net/2012/09/14/five-reasons-to-run-with-your-daughter/). This article sparked a bit of a debate between me and Dawn Coccone, author of " Week Ahead is National Take Your Daughter Running Ray, October 1, 2012" ( http://www.examiner.com/article/week-ahead-is-national-take-your-daughter-running-day-september-30-2012  Ms. Coccone states:
"While it is honorable and timely to for Athleta to post this article, I think you need to be aware that as attractive as the idea of running with daughter is, it might be idealistic to think she will embrace it as you do. If your daughter is already into running or asks you to train her that is a wonderful opportunity, but recall when you were young…you wanted the opportunity to embrace your own passions."
Running with my daughter is no way saying to her that she must "embrace it as [I] do"! Whether we like it or not we can not help but make statements with how we choose to live. My daughter sees me run, she knows when I'm off racing, she knows I coach others to run - she knows that it matters to ME. But she also knows that SHE matters more than anything else to me. She knows that I will support her passions, but she also knows that I want her to have passions. I am who I am. She is who she is. As a parent, one of my roles is to make her aware of the options out there, to expose her to different things and let her decide what she really cares about.

When I was young I wanted to find my own passions, but those are never found in a vacuum - those are discovered through the examples we have around us. We learn from those around us and the example they set may be positive or negative. I hope to be an example for my daughter, which is very different from pressuring her to please mommy - to do what mommy does, or else...

I was so fortunate to have parents who took me and my sister to races. They didn't force us to run. They opened the door and WE walked through on our own. I'm still running. My sister is not. Two different people. Two different paths.

There is a BIG difference between encouragement and pressure - and the argument that one necessarily leads to the other is a fallacious slippery slope argument. The first does not necessarily lead to slipping down that precipitous slope. And the fact remains, that our girls are constantly barraged with messages pressuring them to conform to a feminine stereotype. They feel pressure from their friends, from pop culture, the media, etc. and to argue that parents should be careful not to impress upon their children the passion that they embrace seems wrongheaded. I'm not just sending my child out into the world to flit around like a leaf in a breeze. I am here to help direct her to find her way, to instill values, and clear thinking. I like to read. I read to my daughter a lot. I value intellectual curiosity. Does that mean that she is going to be an uptight overachieving student? A perfectionist trying to please mommy? I don't know. But this is the best I can do.

So this coming Monday, run with your daughter - to school, around the block, down to the playground, up a hill, where ever. Share your passion. Share your time with her. Let her feel the power of her legs, and her heart and the joy of moving through space, side by side.




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Some stats on girls and sports:
http://www.girlscouts.org/research/facts_findings/sports_and_physical_activity.asp
http://www.aauw.org/act/laf/library/athleticStatistics.cfm

11 comments:

  1. Check this out (regarding girls dropping out of sports): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URVYgTbbryE&feature=player_detailpage.

    I'm hoping most of these girls return because dropping out is "just a phase."

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    1. Thanks for the link. I added it to the post!

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  2. I will definitely do this with my daughter!

    I agree with everything you said in this post, but I do wish they had a similar day for boys (and also something for boys like Girls on the Run). All kids are too sedentary up to a point--making it fun for them is the way to go--and while girls have the whole body image problem, boys are worse about crap like video games. We don't allow TV or video games in our house, but my kids are only five and I know it's going to get harder as friends become more and more important.

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    1. I started this "day" so I is "they" ;) I'm planning on one for boys in the spring!! Suggestions???

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    2. I know the last week in June is National Camping Week. Why not make it a trail run? Great way to get out and multi task. ;)

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  3. Great post! My girls know that when they run with me it gives us an opportunity to spend some "alone time" together...without the boys!

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  4. As always, WONDERFUL!! I have reposted your link to my blog at 1 Life Fitness so we can all spead the word on this. I run with all my kids, and find it a great way to bond. As you know also, we started a kid and parent running club a few years ago called Team Zero Gravity, and we are now 90 people strong! I encourage ALL families to get out and get going with thier kids. No better way to spend your time....

    Thank you for all you do and keep up the great work. Lovin the posts!

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    1. Thanks for spreading the word Kelly!!! My hope is that everyone does!!

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  5. I don't expect my daughter to "embrace" my passions. I am definitely planning on running with her on Monday. I think it is no different than taking her with you to get a pedicure or shopping, if that is your thing. I want to share what I love with my daughter and she joins me willingly, enjoying the time with Mommy. In fact, I am running with both my kids in a race on Saturday.

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    1. We can't help but want to share our passionate pursuits with those we love! i believe it's a necessary ingredient of love.

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