The Sparkle Report: Week of January 16

Welcome back to the Sparkle Report!

We kicked off this short work week celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his incredible passion for racial equality.

On Friday we will watch the changing of the guard as a new President of the United States is inaugurated. There will surely be highs and lows, but we’re here to get you and your girls through it all!
Love and Learning,

To Do … Watch The Bachelor With Your Girl?

My guilty pleasure is back! The love (or fame) seeking ladies are back in pursuit of a rose from their brown-eyed Bachelor, Nick. I know, I know! It’s trashy TV at its finest, but we all unwind in different ways. Even my daughters have gotten hooked watching The Bachelor with me, much to my horror. What kind of example is this for my young girls?!?!

Even though I know the underlying message is terrible, I can’t help rooting for the Bachelor, picking favorites and loving to hate some of the ladies on the show (don’t even talk to me about Corrine!) Just like my crooked smile, my love of this trashy reality show is one of my flaws I’ve learned to accept.

Spark the Conversation:
It comes naturally to talk to our girls about what they should do, but sometimes it is even more helpful to have an example of what NOT to do. Enjoy the show for what it is: entertainment, NOT the real world. Talk to your girl about “happily ever after” in ALL of its forms, not just getting the guy and the ring. Tell her your love story, whether it is with your partner or your job or a hobby. Let her know there are many ways to live a full and happy life. Make sure she understands the staged and somewhat scripted nature of this manufactured “reality” so that she can set real life expectations for herself.

There are so many ways that we can find our ever after! We just have to know, trust and accept ourselves. And when we do, others will follow suit.

To Buy … Fidget Toys For Your Fidgeter

When my daughter put this fidget toy on her gift list for the holidays, I laughed. “Really? A cube to hold in your hand that you press, zap, and slide? That’s what you want?!”

“Yes,” she answered. “I find I always play with my pencil or pick at my eraser and thought this could be a lot more fun.”

My response: “Interesting.” And I sat there in silence thinking, Kids are sooooo smart!

Turns out, this isn’t the only toy of its kind. Stress balls have a whole new look and there are cubes, keychains, and marbles designed to give people who fidget something to fiddle with. And they’re quiet! Luckily for non-fidgeters like myself, that means I’m not forced to strangle that guy who keeps clicking his pen!

Spark the Conversation:
This toy is brilliant, and the fact that my daughter knew herself well enough to understand it’d be helpful to have something to tinker with when she’s feeling antsy was brilliant x 2! If your daughter is a fidgeter too, ask her why she thinks she does it, and then explore the reasons. The science behind fidgeting is crazy interesting. Studies show that if our brains aren’t interested enough in what they’re focused on (like when kids get bored during class), adding sensory-motor activity can actually help us focus on the primary activity at hand. Plus research has shown that using our hands while learning can increase creativity and memory!

To Learn … Inauguration Day Thoughts

Inauguration Day is fast approaching and never has there been a more polarizing incoming Commander-In-Chief. So many organizations and celebrities are planning events of their own to bring attention to their causes. Causes that are at risk under the new administration. Some protestors are even ignoring the inauguration entirely.

This event, just like the election that led up to it, is vital to our democracy, and even though some of us don’t agree with Mr. Trump, we can discuss the importance of the process with our girls. Then we can turn our attention to devoting some time to advocating for causes that could be at risk with our incoming administration. Issues like climate change, women’s reproductive rights, and others.

A great way to focus on these issues is the Women’s March on Washington. This event was organized as a peaceful protest of the rhetoric put forth in this election and is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to human rights. Even viewing the march can be a great conversation spark for showing your girl how many people are committed to protecting her rights.

Spark the Conversation:
No matter what your political views, it’s an interesting time to be an American. As I discussed in my blog post after the election, you get to tuck your children in at night and share with them your values. Just as we talk to children about the issues they face in daily life, we can address what is affecting our nation as a whole.

In the context of the inauguration and the idea that some people are looking for alternatives, explain to your girl what is important to your family from your own perspective. Make it an ongoing topic. You have great influence over your children’s budding political understanding — inform it with solid values and encourage them to learn more. Let them know the door is open for discussion anytime.

To Think About … The Film Hidden Figures & Difference Makers

Katherine Johnson is the subject of the movie Hidden Figures, but her life and work are worth more conversation than just 90 minutes in the movie theater. At a time when African-American women were rarely able to attend school past eighth grade, Katherine excelled at math and managed to complete high school by age 14! I don’t know what you were doing at 14, but I’m pretty sure I was still counting on my parents to drag me out of bed for school, just barely in time to beat the bell.

Our girls are growing up in a society that still struggles with sexism and racism, but to examine Katherine’s life is to understand how far we have come, and how much persistence and hard work can pay off. What a great motivation for us and our children to know that we can make a difference — even if it seems small, it could be the seed that grows into a movement.

President Obama awarded Ms. Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2015, and I don’t think it is any coincidence that she was born on August 26 — Women’s Equality Day!

Spark the Conversation:
There are still many areas in which women or certain races are not represented or treated equally. Ask your girl if she has witnessed this in her own life or if she recognizes it as a cultural condition. Even if she can’t recall a personal experience with it, help her see how she can stand up against unfair treatment. Especially encourage her to try things that she is interested in or shows potential in, even if it is not traditionally considered a “girl thing.” Teach her there’s no such thing as a “girl thing.” There are people things and she’s perfectly able and welcome to pursue anything she’s willing to work hard at!

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