08/01/2013 10:37 am ET

Being A Good Person Versus Being A Nice Girl


"Be a good girl?" "Smile, sweetie." "She's such a nice girl." They're all phrases most women have heard in their lives, whether they're on the receiving end of them or have heard them being said to another woman. "Good" and "nice" are adjectives that have a lot of baggage for women, which is why it's so refreshing to read about a woman who is trying to avoid teaching her daughter to be either of those things.

On the New York Times' Motherlode blog, Catherine Newman writes about her daughter Birdy, who BTW, sounds like a kid that can hang:

She is deeply kind, profoundly compassionate and, probably, the most ethical person I know — but she will not smile at you unless either she is genuinely glad to see you or you’re telling her a joke that has something scatological for a punch line.

Newman says she's encouraging Birday to behave exactly the way she wants to, in sharp contrast to the way Newman feels like she's lived her own life. Despite being a "radical, card-carrying feminist," Newman feels like she's constantly giving "out smiles indiscriminately, hoping to please not only friends and family but also my son’s orthodontist, the barista who rolls his eyes while I fumble apologetically through my wallet, and the ex-boyfriend who cheated on me."

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