First published (in an edited format!) in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 2nd December 2014
It is probably a common parental worry, but, as a mum, I do think about the kind of women my little daughters will one day become.
My girls bicker and moan and take sly swipes when a parent’s back is turned, but just as much as they growl at one another, so they coo at each other too.
When Amelie recently lost her first tooth, my husband and I crept up outside India’s bedroom door. Amelie had gone straight to her sister when she awoke to find money in place of her tiny tooth, and she crawled in bed with her so that they could sweetly revel in the innocence of this moment together.
However, women can be notoriously vile to one another. How do you stop your little girl from turning into one of those that begin sporting two faces whilst they are still traversing the playground – and continue to sport them once they are in adulthood?
We all have our moments of sniping about other people, but there’s a huge difference between simply having a moan (you’d implode if you didn’t) and actually being disloyal, or cruel for nothing more than personal entertainment. It’s one thing if someone is behaving in an immoral manner and you say that you disagree with them, but another entirely if you’re the kind of person who simply seems to enjoy stirring trouble, or lighting the bitch fuse and then standing back whilst it sparks around you.
I loathe the thought of my daughters growing up to fall foul of the kind of ‘friends’ who have no loyalty, and who, sadly, are in the category of females that seem happy to smile to one’s face and then snipe as soon as a back is turned.
Some women seem to thrive off of betraying the trust of others, or by obsessing over other women’s lives, without ever bothering to try and enrich their own.
I really hope my girls grow up instead with a handful of true and fiercely loyal friends, and that they are wise enough to tell the difference. But I also try to instill values in them, so that they too possess qualities of friendship.
I suspect that if I had sons, then I would be attempting to demonstrate that women are equals, and of course I do this with my girls too. Daddy works, mummy works; we share responsibilities, commiserate in times of stress, and celebrate the small and the big things in life.
But, even if my husband and I do succeed in preparing them for the world, then what is to say that a curve ball, whether in the form of an unhealthy relationship or something more insidious, will not knock them off their vulnerable feet?
Honestly, the sheer responsibility that comes with parenting – and the nurturing of two little lives – is both the most wonderful thing, and the most terrifying. Love and fear: they are one and the same.