Is it bad to be bossy?
March 14, 2013 11:04 AM Subscribe
I'm reading Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
and very much enjoying it. She talks early on about being called "bossy" as a little kid and how that characteristic has followed her and how she views it as a negative characteristic. I really identified with that as I was also called "bossy" when I was a little girl for doing a lot of the same things that Sandberg was doing as a girl -- organizing games, making up plays, telling other kids what to do. And I'm wondering about the word "bossy" and whether I should avoid it with my own little girl.
posted by amanda to Human Relations (42 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I'm really tasking myself with making sure that my daughter is raised with an openness to her world, free of expectations of gender as much as possible and full of the notion that she can do all sorts of fascinating things. I've also noticed that she has been pretty darn bossy lately* and I believe I've used that word to characterize some of her behavior. And I while I take a sort of strange pride in it, as her mom and a formerly "bossy" child myself, I did also really recognize Sandberg's characterization of this as feeling negative. And, specifically, a trait that is more commonly applied to girls in a negative way.
What do you all think of the word "bossy?" If you are a boy, were you ever told that you were too bossy? If so, how did it make you feel? If you are a girl, same question. Is "bossy" a word I should avoid since it does have negative connotations? Is it wrong for a child to be bossy? I recall feeling sort of annoyed at this characterization of me as bossy and I remember kind of narrowing my eyes and thinking to myself, "You don't even get what I'm trying to do here!" Heh. And I carried on anyway. But, still, it did stuck with me.
There's this idea that boys are lauded for leadership qualities and girls are subtly (and not-so-subtly) punished for those same qualities. Is "bossy" a word I should avoid?
*for reference, my daughter is 2 and a few months and she has been enjoying commanding her Dad and I to do things: "Sing a song, mama! No, not that one, sing 'twinkle-twinkle.' No! Sing it quietly! Quietly! Now, do 'Wheels on the bus'!" It's really pretty humorous to us and I'm sure a common developmental stage -- is it a common stage for boys, too?