Raising a daughter can be simultaneously rewarding and frustrating. Often times, girls grow up having to deal with mixed messages on how to become women. The journey of learning how to navigate through society’s rules and expectations is a tough one for girls. It’s every parent’s mission to help their daughters grow into strong, admirable women.
Encourage your daughter to build self-esteem. In a world where media portrays women in a way that promotes unrealistic views about body image, building self-esteem in young girls can be key. Allow your daughter to voice her opinions and listen to her when she talks. Have her make a picture collage of all of her strengths, and help her to hang it in her room. If your daughter loves jewelry, help her make a self-esteem bracelet, each bead will represent a thing she likes about herself. Most importantly, be a good example. If you are obsessed with your weight and your looks, your daughter will most likely follow suit.
Help your daughter develop strength. Women were considered second-class citizens for years. Encourage your daughter to rise above these stereotypes and give her the freedom to express herself without repercussions. Tell her to stand strong for what she believes in. Allow your daughter to develop some independence. Let her choose her clothes or the style of her hair. Girls should have the ability to control decisions related to their bodies, within limit, at an early age. Encourage your daughter to solve her own problems, instead of solving them for her.
Advise your daughter to look up to strong role models. Everything she is going through has been gone through before by a woman that came before her. Does she follow politics? Advise her to look up Hilary Clinton or Sandra Day O’Connor. If she likes sports, tell her to follow women like Serena Williams or Dania Patrick. If she prefers to stay closer to home, invite her to ask a female relative to be her mentor.
Instill compassion in your daughter. Your daughter can be the wittiest, wealthiest woman in the world, but it won’t mean anything if she lacks compassion. Encourage random acts of kindness. Ask her to volunteer her time at the nearest soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Ask her to read to an elderly neighbor, who no longer receives visitors. Model kindness yourself. If she sees you being kind, then she will follow suit.