Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has captured attention on a number of fronts – including how she lives her life – but now an interview with the 83 year old US Supreme Court justice has thrown some keenly-observed light upon what is necessary to bring up a strong daughter.
The interview with the New York Times as well as her recent autobiography lead to a list compiled by Inc editor Bill Murphy which shows some of the key elements to successful daughter-raising –
1. Read Plenty
It’s the best thing you can do.
It’s truly a passport to explore the world, barely discriminates between rich and poor, and can expand and train her mind. It’s important enough that it’s the first thing Ginsburg mentions in her article, and she credits her mother, who “by her example, made reading a delight.”
2. Teach them Independence
This is truly the second most important thing: ensuring that they learn who they really are and remain true to themselves. Society pulls people in so many different directions, trying to shape us into roles that we might not really want for ourselves. I’m speaking as a man, but it’s easy to see how this is even more challenging for women.
As with several of her key tenets, Justice Ginzburg credits her mother with teaching her these and other lessons in life.
3. Seek Great Teachers
She cites examples of great teachers who inspired her including Gerald Gunther at Columbia Law School, with helping her achieve her first big career break–a clerkship with a federal district judge and started her stellar career.
4. Turn a deaf ear when needed
The best advice she ever received, Ginsburg said, was from her new mother-in-law, who told her on her wedding day in 1954: “In every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.”
5. Set aside worries and achieve
Stop worrying and find a way to manage, was some top advice she received and has taken.
Having not come from a wealthy family and facing early tragedy with the death of both her mother and her six year old sister, she went to law school when only three per cent of lawyers were women.
There were also no laws prohibiting employers from simply firing women who became pregnant either.
6. Make your own luck
It was actually quite unlikely that she would ascend to the successes she ultimately did. A few facts put this in context:
- Before law school, Ginsburg was demoted at a job for becoming pregnant.
- Sexism was so systemic under the law that one of her first cases as a lawyer before the Supreme Court challenged a state law that set different legal drinking ages for men and women.
- And when she became a professor for the first time at Rutgers University, she was paid less than her male colleagues, because it was expected she could always rely on her husband’s salary.
As she puts it, though: “I was … alive and a lawyer when, for the first time in United States history, it became possible to urge, successfully, before legislatures and courts, the equal-citizenship stature of women and men as a fundamental constitutional principle.”
7. Marry the right person
Martin Ginsburg died in 2010. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote:
“I have had more than a little bit of luck in life, but nothing equals in magnitude my marriage to Martin D. Ginsburg. I do not have words adequate to describe my supersmart, exuberant, ever-loving spouse. … Marty coached me through the birth of our son, he was the first reader and critic of articles, speeches and briefs I drafted, and he was at my side constantly, in and out of the hospital, during two long bouts with cancer. And I betray no secret in reporting that, without him, I would not have gained a seat on the Supreme Court.”