Raising a daughter in today’s world is hard. With so many messages telling her how she should look and act and who she should and should not be, she can become easily overwhelmed, confused, and self-conscious. For this reason, there are some truths we should tell our daughters to help them grow into strong, confident women.
8 Truths We Should Tell Our Daughters
Whether you’re a boy or a girl, growing up can be hard. Both boys and girls face a lot of societal pressure to look and behave in certain ways, and when they don’t, they often receive backlash. With phones and social media, many kids constantly feel like they need to be perfect all the time.
While many of these lessons apply to boys as well, the following are truths we should tell our daughters to help them navigate their adolescence. Hopefully, learning these lessons will help them grow into confident women.
1. She’s Allowed to Express Her Feelings
We often assume that girls are naturally more in touch with their emotions, particularly when we compare them to boys. Sometimes, however, that assumption prevents us from teaching girls how to actually manage or handle those emotions.
Rachel Simmons is an author of three books on girlhood and cofounder of the nonprofit, Girls Leadership. She says that we often teach girls to place a lot of value on being happy and liked. This can sometimes cause them to have trouble acknowledging more difficult situations.
Simmons says that parents can help girls learn to express their strongest feelings by using a wide range of vocabulary to express their own emotions. She suggests using words like happy, nervous, excited, scared, angry, frustrated, and confused.
Additionally, you should not diminish or question her feelings when she shows strong, authentic emotion.
“When your girls express authentic emotions — even if they’re difficult — you take them seriously,” she says, “you don’t deny them or challenge them.”
2. Her Body Deserves Respect
With Instagram, Facebook, and all the other forms of social media out there, girls’ bodies are under a microscope like they’ve never been before. What’s more, these forms of media have blurred the lines between self-objectification and self-empowerment.
Parents can help girls learn to respect their bodies by talking about them as being capable of strength and stamina. Putting your daughter in sports is a particularly good way of doing this because it shows her that her body is defined by more than just her appearance.
One of the most important truths we can tell our daughters is that her body also deserves respect from others. Simmons recommends talking about consent early with your daughter. Parents should teach her that her body is hers alone. Additionally, it is important to teach her how to say no to someone, and how to develop and enforce personal boundaries.
3. She Can Be a Leader
While we are beginning to see more women step into leadership positions, many high-power positions are still occupied by men. For this reason, girls may have more trouble seeing themselves in that role. Additionally, girls can find it hard to develop leadership skills because they’re afraid to come across as “bossy”.
Out of all the truths we should tell our daughters, telling her that she is capable of leadership will take her the farthest.
Parents can do this by encouraging her to be a leader at school and among her friends. Simmons also says that sports can also help her to develop more confidence to take on leadership roles.
4. She Can Take on a Challenge
Determination is a skill your daughter is never too young to learn. You can help your daughter to develop determination by encouraging her to take on a task that doesn’t come easily to her. This could be encouraging your shy daughter to approach the new kid at school. Or perhaps it’s pushing her to try and make a school team or get a role in the school play.
Of course, encouraging her when she manages to overcome her own fears and accomplish something is equally as important. This will teach her that she is capable of doing difficult things.
5. She Can Support Herself Financially
This becomes increasingly important as she gets older. One of the biggest truths we should tell our daughters is that she doesn’t need to depend on someone else for stability. She can own her own apartment, buy her own clothes, and take herself on fun trips.
Teaching your daughter financial literacy at a young age is a great way to do this. It is important that she learn the concepts of financial planning, such as budgeting and saving, so that she can achieve financial independence. You can begin doing this at a very young age, even just by taking her to the grocery store, giving her a budget, and giving her a calculator. Financial independence could be particularly useful when trying to flee an abusive relationship.
6. It’s OK To Accept a Compliment
When you give a girl a compliment, her first instinct is often to turn it around and compliment you. Should girls derive their value from external compliments? Absolutely not. It is important, however, to teach her that it is OK to accept a compliment.
Teach your daughter to fully receive the compliment, and thank the person who gave it. She can then pay it forward to someone else down the line.
7. Not All Relationships Will Last
This goes for both friendships and romantic partners. Movies and TV shows often depict girls and women with inseparable, lasting bonds between them and their friends. Of course, you hope that your daughter will find friendships that will last forever, but she should know that they don’t always.
People get older, change, and grow apart. One major truth we should tell our daughters is that if a friendship fizzles, this is not some unacceptable failure. It is life.
The same goes for romantic relationships. Very rarely do we end up marrying the first person we fall in love with. We need to encourage our girls to dig deep and evaluate if someone is meeting their emotional needs. If they’re not, it’s ok to let it go.
8. It’s Ok to Make Mistakes
TV shows and movies often show boys getting dirty, making mistakes, and getting in trouble. Girls, on the other hand, are often depicted as being perfect. An important truth to teach our daughters is that they are allowed to make mistakes. If our girls are too afraid to make mistakes, they will never take risks. This will limit their potential.
Consequently, that also means we need to teach them to take responsibility when they do mess up. Their first instinct may be to lie about their mistake, or pass the blame elsewhere, but honesty and integrity are two of the most important attributes you can teach a child.
Raising Strong, Independent Women
Society puts a lot of pressure on our girls to be perfect. It also tends to place them in certain roles and exclude them from others, and teaches them to be quiet and submissive. These are only eight of many more truths we should tell our daughters, but they are important.
Girls have so much strength and potential to do incredible things. As adults, it is our job to encourage them, and to not let them fade into the background.
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