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I don’t want to raise “nice” girls.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to raise nice girls, where nice means respectful of self and others, responsible for one’s words and actions, considerate.

I also want to raise strong girls, girls with real voices, who know their minds and aren’t afraid to speak up, speak their minds. Girls who can assert themselves confidently.

I will admit I no more want to raise “nice” girls than I want to raise mean girls. I have a theory that mean girls are really “nice” girls in that in relationships with authority figures (teachers, coaches, parents, and so on) mean girls are nice. But in interactions with their peers, they are “nice”, which amounts to actually being mean.

I don’t want to raise children who apologize left and right (warning, graphic language ahead). I don’t want to raise girls who will be easy to “gaslight” (or, for that matter, who will pull that shite on others). I don’t want my girls to turn into timid women more afraid of being seen as a bitch than concerned about getting what they want or need—out of a job, out of a relationship, out of life in general.

A few rules for not-nice girls:

1. Not everyone has to like you. Believe it or not, there are worse things in the world than people not liking you.

2. Don’t be mean to people who don’t like you.

3. If people who don’t like you are mean to you, you are allowed to defend yourself. The trick is not to be mean in return. It’s not easy.

4. You do have to apologize when you hurt someone’s feelings. If you call Suzie a name, you can’t shrug it off as a joke when she calls you on it. That’s not Suzie’s issue; it’s yours.

4b. If, however, you mention that you’re not crazy about the color purple, and Suzie bursts into tears because her favorite color is purple, and cries, “I knew it! You don’t like me!” you don’t have to apologize for not liking purple. You don’t even really have to apologize for her getting upset, although it might be nice to say, “Even though I don’t like purple, I still like you.” Providing, of course, you really do like her. If you don’t, why are you pretending to?

5. Apologizing when you’ve made a mistake is a sign of strength. Apologizing to make the other person forget about the mistake is not. Apologizing preemptively or for situations not in your control is a sign of weakness. Don’t do the last two.

6. Stand up for yourself and what you believe in, and what you want. (Corollary: Know what you believe in and why, and what you want and why.)

7. Stand up for others.

8. Don’t be passive aggressive. It’s easy, easy, easy to do. Don’t do the easy thing.

What else would you tell girls so they grow up strong and true to themselves? And nice, but not “nice”?