Raising a Daughter? 10 Things You Must Teach Her Along the Way

stef raising daughters
Image via Stef Daniel

I will be the first to admit that I never thought I was the right kind of person to raise daughters.  For one, I am not girly.  Secondly, I never felt like my relationship with my own mother would be sufficient enough to teach me how to raise my own daughters.  So in the years before I had children, I honestly believed that I would have a house full of boys.  Apparently, the Universe thought otherwise. 

That being said, I take my duty to raise my daughters very seriously.  And I realize that my actions are often their loudest teacher.

Despite the fact that we, as a society, have come so far from the dated views of women, gender roles and sexual typecasting – the truth remains that raising young girls to be happy, independent, confident, and successful individuals is a life long task.  And this task is one that starts very early in our daughters lives. 

The biggest female influence in our daughters’ lives is their mother.  (How is THAT for pressure?)  And often, it is not what we say or teach through lessons that influences our daughters futures; but what we DO and how we LIVE.   

I believe there are some things, which we as women kinfolk, need to teach our daughters.  Not just through our words, but through our actions.  We all want our daughters to be self-confident.  And, I believe that self-confidence is not taught, but found through the following lessons.  

  1. Know How to Say No.  Far too many of us as mothers as ‘yessers.’  We say YES to everything and everybody, so much so that we don’t have time left for ourselves.  We don’t always feel like we have the right to say NO, or not now, or I just can’t do this or that – so we say YES and end up feeling overwhelmed.  Our daughters need to see us saying NO and need to see us not suffering from the resentment that comes from overfilling our own plates.  I want my daughters to be able to say (with confidence) NO!  To me, to their friends, boyfriends – to anyone or anything that doesn’t feel right to them.  But they need to know it’s okay to do so.  That they aren’t responsible for pleasing everyone.  And they learn this from us. 
  2. To Trust Intuition.  The most powerful tool of the human being is intuition.  Our kids are born with intuition, yet we tend to rob them of it as they get older.  I tell my own daughters all the time to trust their gut.  When they aren’t sure of something, I always try to remind them that THEY KNOW the answer.  I ask them, “How do you feel?” instead of “What do you think?”  Intuition rocks.  And it needs to be encouraged. 
  3. They Don’t Need a Relationship to Be Happy.  (Notice I did not say MAN) I have teenagers.  And I troll Facebook pages from the teen world on a regular basis to make sure that they are following MY online rules.  Countless times, no hundreds of times, I see these young teenage girls, some still in middle school posting things that equate to “I feel like a loser because I don’t have a boyfriend.”  Our daughters need to KNOW that a relationship doesn’t validate them in any way.  In fact, until they are sure of themselves, I encourage my daughters to avoid relationships – and to spend their time working on their goals and enjoying their independence. Which leads right to the next lesson…
  4. To Be Independent.  They need to know how to take care of themselves.  And they need to know how to make themselves happy.  And, they need to know and develop their own spirit of passion and satisfaction in life.  When I talk about independence, I don’t necessarily mean, they need to be able to stay home all alone and do everything without me.  I mean they need to learn WHO they are, and know how to take care of themselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  This is something else they learn from us.  When they see us take time out for ourselves, they learn through example that it’s perfectly okay to do so. 
  5. To Love Their Bodies.  Beauty doesn’t come in a specific package, size, shape, or form.  I want my daughters to feel beautiful – not in spite of what they may see as flaws, or what society says are flaws – but including these things.  If I sit around cursing my curves or calling myself fat, or investing all my energy into appearances, chances are they will too. 
  6. To Dream.  We are never too old to dream, to follow our dreams, or to have our dreams.  I dream every day, and I share my dreams – even the craziest ones – with my kiddos so they know that it’s okay to do so themselves.  And more importantly, if they can dream it – they can do it.  (Trust me, I’m 40-something and I’m still working on my dreams!)
  7. To Work Hard. I want my daughters to work hard in life.  If there is something they want in life, they need to learn to work hard to get it.  I don’t want them to think that everything in this world will be handed to them on a silver platter.  I expect them to work hard and contribute around the house, and they see me working hard too.  This work ethic, in my eyes, will get them far in life. 
  8. To Say Sorry.  Not just to other people, but to themselves as well.  If they can say they are sorry, they can admit when they are wrong, then they can grow from those mistakes.  And even more important, they can learn to forgive themselves (and others) along the way.   
  9. Gratitude.  I believe that a grateful heart and spirit is one of the best things that we can pass on to our children.  They learn gratitude, not by being told to say ‘thank you,’ but by truly appreciating things in their own way.  I try to stop and smell the roses along life’s path – and I try to encourage my daughters to do the same.
  10. To Live.  I don’t want my kids to take life for granted.  This doesn’t mean that I want them to feel like the end is near, but the reality is time is short.  Much shorter than we think it is at times.  I want my girls to LIVE every day of their lives.  To not hold onto to regrets or losses, or anger or resentment.  Laugh as much as possible (even at ourselves), love as often as you can – and make positivity a part of their life.  I tell my girls all the time that “life is too short to sulk.”

What would you add to this list?

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Raising a Daughter? 10 Things You Must Teach Her Along the Way

Stef Daniel is the 40ish year old, experienced (meaning crazy already) mother of count ‘em…4 daughters (yes, she takes prayers) who have taught her nearly E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G she needs to know about raising kids and staying sane. She hails from a small town in Georgia where she lives with her family in a red tin roofed house (with just ONE bathroom mind you) on a farm - with tons of animals of course. One day, due to her sheer aversion to shoes and her immense lov ... More

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11 comments

  1. Tiarr says:

    What an honest and well written article. I don’t have a daughter, at least not yet, but as a woman with younger sisters I can attest to the truth in this. Good for you mama!

  2. Celeste says:

    Thanks for the list. These are all things I need to work on myself. I’m due in August with my first and it happens to be a girl. I have always wanted boys because I am scared to death about raising a girl. I already wrote her a letter for her to read when she gets older but I think making a list of my own would help me out too. I might add being positive to the list since I have found in my own life it makes a world of difference.

  3. AliyahNicole says:

    I love this, this is probably one of the best posts I’ve read on here yet. I can’t wait until my daughter arrives.

  4. Crystal says:

    You are a very wise woman! Thank you for the advice as I have a step-Daughter and trying for a daughter of my own, I also have a 13 yr. old son whom much of this advice would go for him as well. so Thanks! I wish you and your girls the best of luck 🙂

  5. LadyTitan says:

    Krystal, congrats on your beautiful daughter! But I believe she will still love the wonderful mommy that you are, even though you say she will become a better person than you are. All of us want this for our kids, but just because we’ve made choices in our lives, it doesn’t mean we are not better! So smile! You are better, and your daughter will look at you and know that you want that for her and she will aspire to reach those goals! =)

  6. LadyTitan says:

    I will be a 1st-time mommy and I just came up with a list too but I have 27 things to teach my daughter lol! But as we all know, the list is longer than 10 or 27 items because our jobs as mothers and teachers last a lifetime! I know we will all be GREAT moms!

  7. Maria says:

    Thanks, 10 good things to teach our daughters and to remember for us.

  8. Krystal says:

    I have a daughter. and i am teaching her how to become a batter person i am!!

  9. <3 "Know How to Say No"

  10. Nicely written Stef. You have touched on all the key points here in your article. Thanks for giving me a refresher. I started to become a yesser myself with my teen daughter.
    After reading your piece it placed me back on track.

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