Who's the Boss? My Daughter, Thank You Very Much

By Jill Murphy, Common Sense Media Editorial Director

During a recent meeting with my daughter's preschool teacher, the subject of "bossiness" came up. After learning about all of her accomplishments over the past few months, I feared we had just hit our first red flag.

"She likes to 'hold court' when she's playing." Uh oh. I knew where this was headed.

Bossy. The label that's used to identify girls who are a little too in charge. A trait I'd certainly seen in my darling -- but definitely in the driver's seat -- daughter, whose own cousins actually call her "The boss." A word that's used to keep girls from asserting themselves. A characteristic I'd wrestled with myself: on the one hand loving my leadership role, and on the other worrying about how others perceive me.

"Are you saying she's bossy?"

"Bossy? Absolutely not," her teacher said, rather matter-of-factly. Wait, what? "She's a leader," the teacher continued. "She makes decisions. She has a vision of what she wants to do and rallies the other kids to get there. And they all come back to her day after day."

She isn't shy. She's an observer, she takes it all in, and she's very cautious. She isn't emotional. She's loving, maternal, and extremely empathetic toward others. And now we've added a new one to this list. She isn't bossy. She's a leader, she likes to make decisions, and she enjoys rallying a team of friends to reach a goal.

This brief conversation with her teacher left me with a new view of my little girl that I am so grateful for. I've also been able to look at my own life in a different way -- allowing me to embrace the fact that I work full time. Sure, the guilt of leaving my two girls every day is still there, but the way I communicate the importance of my work to them has changed. I usually brush aside any questions about what I did at work during the day and tune in for full report of what they did, soaking up every ounce of preschool and daycare happenings.

During a recent chat about her day over a game of Candy Land, my preschooler said, "Mommy, you have a lot of people at work that you have to talk to. Who's the boss?" For the first time in a very long time, I had an overwhelming sense of pride in my response. "I am."

Common Sense Media proudly joins the Ban Bossy campaign , embracing leadership in young women and committing to diminishing the negative media messages associated with strong girls. Check out our favorite movies and books to help celebrate strong women in media and pledge to #banbossy.

About Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to:www.commonsense.org.