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Rachel Thaiday is a mum-of-two, a podcaster, a certified personal trainer, ex-netball player and her husband is retired Brisbane Broncos rugby league player Sam Thaiday.
On today, International Women’s Day, Rachel shares why she is passionate about raising resilient women and the five ways she and her husband, Sam are committing to making it happen.
International Women’s Day has always been a moment in my calendar that has felt fairly uneventful.
However after the events of 2020 – which has included homeschooling, lockdowns, more time with my family and certainly many moments of feeling overwhelmed as the world was shut down – I can’t help but to have noticed total inequality in the expectations of women; and a longing need for that to totally change.
Last year, many of my female friends took on the full time roles of parents, work colleagues, business owners, teachers and housekeepers, and I couldn’t help but to think, as a mum of two incredible little women, Gracie, seven, and five-year-old Ellsie, I have a mission to raise resilient and strong daughters who can be the change when it comes to equality.
For that to happen, action needs to start right now, and that action starts in the way we parent our daughters.
Rachel and her husband, former Brisbane Broncos rugby star Sam Thaiday are committed to raising two strong, resilient women.
Sam and I, as equal parents in our family dynamic, have made the conscious decision to install behaviours in our kids that install resilience, strength and tenacity.
Qualities that I believe instill the opportunity for greater equality when it comes to gender bias in our society.
Here’s what we commit to every single day to raise strong, resilient women.
1. Let them be them, and you be you
As the wife of a retired rugby league footballer, the hottest question going around when we had two girls has always been; “so are you going to let your daughters follow in their dad’s footsteps and play rugby league?”
I guess in my early days of parenting I’d often respond to these questions with a hard “no”.
However, over time, our little people showed the strong desire to play their Dad’s favourite game – rugby league. Wanting to nurture their desire to try different sports; I tentatively booked the girls in for a season of Rugby League at our local club.
Full transparency, having lived through many of Sam’s injuries and the incredible highs and lows of professional sport, I was nervous for the girls.
Coupled with the physicality of the sport, I really wanted to wrap Gracie and Elssie up in cotton wool and protect them from rugby league. However, their first season of the League Stars game opened my eyes up to a whole new world for my little ones.
Maybe it was the rugby league club’s motto “be your own hero” that connected with our family. Maybe it was the smile on their faces when they walked off the field, covered in dirt and gleaming with enthusiasm and a sense of achievement.
The skill based program, which is designed for all levels, was messy and had a high-energy glory that my little girls were thirsty for.
The decision to let our little people be them, and me be me, felt totally relevant. Letting our girls become their own people, develop their own desires and try different things (even if it feels scary for mum), is something as a family, we are committed to.
Rugby league has truly provided that for our family (both young and old).
Initially, Rachel believed she would never let her daughters, Gracie and Elssie play rugby. So, what changed her mind?
2. Let’s be realistic (and teach them that)
As a woman in my own right, I certainly can testify to the impact of negative thoughts and how these have held me back in my own lifetime. This is one thing Sam and I are totally passionate about teaching our girls.
We always talk to Gracie and Ellsie about honesty and understanding. We’re not afraid to tell them what they’re doing well, and gently show them things that need a little more work. We find this parenting technique, especially when it comes to young women, allows them to mediate their weaknesses and raise their strengths.
The process of understanding how negative thoughts can hold you back is a gift we can give our little women, in the hope that the next generation won’t be plagued by the hurdle self doubt many women face today.
3. Let them challenge themselves, and nurture them through struggle
When Grace and Ellsie take on a tough challenge, I know Sam and I face the biggest fear of all – allowing them to do it. I’m a big believer in the fact that if you want to raise strong, resilient, kind and purposeful women; then we need to let them fall over on occasion, but assure them that there is a community of people around them to get them back up again.
This can be as basic as watching them on the side-line on the weekends on the rugby league field, or even navigating friendship groups in the school yard.
It is our role as parents to arm our children with the skills to take on challenges, and the only way to let them do this is to let them fall over, and nurture them back up from the side-lines.
4. Model what resilience looks like
You only have to look at Sam and his professional rugby league career and retirement transition to appreciate what resilience looks like.
Sometimes there are moments in life where everything will go your way, and other days it will feel like the world can be quite heavy.
In our family we’re not afraid to highlight the highs, and equally highlight the lows. I guess this approach of parenting helps to normalise the difficult times; so that when those moments do arise, our girls have a toolbelt of skills to lean into which will enable them to get through the tough times.
Rachel says her family is not afraid to highlight the highs, and equally highlight the lows. All this helps build resilience.
5. Show them what self care looks like – it’s critical for every single person and a busy woman should be no exception
I’m a big believer in self-care – and I hate that our society sometimes stigmatises this act of care as selfish, especially for women.
I want Gracie and Ellsie to grow up knowing that their needs matter. Whether that be on the rugby league field, when they play an important part of a team; or at home as a valued member of our family.
Teaching young women early that their needs matter is so important, so that we can raise little women who can turn up to their life with strength, care, compassion, meaning and connection.
Between our parenting style and Rugby League teaching our girls to be strong, resilient, and confident team players, Sam and I know our little women are on the right track.
This 2021 on IWD, start the change today; and I believe that means us parents have a role to play when it comes to raising resilient women of the future. Be kind, be strong and be confident; and maybe even sometimes let go of your fears.
I do believe the next generation will thank us for this parenting approach in years to come.
To sign your kids of the future up for rugby league, find your local club here.