Raising a Daughter? 10 Things You Must Teach Her Along the Way
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 influence our daughters' futures, but what we DO and how we LIVE.
I believe there are some things that 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 in the following lessons …
Know How to Say No.
Far too many of us as mothers are “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, their friends, their boyfriends — to anyone or anything that doesn't feel right to them.
But they need to know it's OK to do so — that they aren't responsible for pleasing everyone — and they learn this from us.
I believe that 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.
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.
They need to know how to take care of themselves, 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 OK to do so.
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.
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 OK to dream, too. 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!
To Work Hard.
I want my daughters to work hard. 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 to contribute around the house, and they see me working hard, too. This work ethic, in my eyes, will get them far in life.
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 importantly, they can learn to forgive themselves (and others) along the way.
I believe that a grateful heart and spirit are some 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.
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 that time is short — much shorter than we think it is at times. I want my girls to LIVE every day of their lives and to not hold onto regrets or losses, 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.”
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