Having a daughter is a blessing. She’ll fill your life with joy, love, and laughter. She’ll teach you how to connect with being a child again and see the wonder in aspects of life that you rendered mundane long ago. But raising a daughter also means prepping her for a society where she’s told to make herself smaller, to not get in the way, to be more “ladylike” and always put others’ feelings ahead of her own.
Thankfully, there has been a cultural shift in our society as of late. More and more women are speaking out. They’re making their voices heard, helping shape a new norm. Many celebrities and tastemakers have used their platforms to champion women’s rights and their value in society. The wage gap, while still a problem, is being openly addressed, society’s expectations of women are being challenged and their value is being emphasized. We’re seeing more women own their identities and stepping into positions of power with real social significance.
It’s important to help empower your daughter to stand up for what she wants and to make her voice heard. Here are some great ways to help her grow into the superwoman she is.
Let Her Express Herself
Many adults nowadays can remember that growing up, they might have had strict rules in their household. Some households had heavy restrictions on things like dress code, such as not allowing ripped jeans or untucked shirts. Others had strict curfews or the types of extracurricular activities kids were allowed to partake in.
Nowadays, every household might be different, and there may be religious rules to respect. But whenever possible, allow your daughter to have control over how she presents herself and what activities she wants to invest time in. Sometimes, parents have expectations for their children. Maybe you always wanted your child to learn to play the piano or maybe you saw your child joining the chess team or the honor society.
But maybe your daughter is interested in drawing instead. Maybe she’s into making music or maybe she’s become interested in dance. Encourage her to find activities she is very interested in and support her pursuits. If she’s into music, gift her with instruments.
If she likes dancing, buy her some colorful printed yoga leggings and matching tops. Cute sports bras and fitness apparel will encourage her and prepare her for more rehearsals. Whatever her interests are, encourage her to express her true self through whatever her chosen art form or pursuits happen to be!
Give Her Leadership Roles
We do our children a disservice when we do everything for them. The more responsibility we give them earlier on, the more prepared and capable they will be later in life. Allowing your daughter to be in charge of certain roles will teach her what it takes to be a leader. She will likely come across challenges, as we all do when we are learning something new, but as she overcomes them and learns to work her way through challenges, it will build her self confidence. All this gets her comfortable with being the one to call the shots and make decisions.
If your daughter starts with small responsibilities, like tying her own shoes and picking out her own outfits, she’ll soon be ready for more. Next, you’ll be able to put her in charge of feeding or walking the family pet; or being in charge of keeping the chore schedule for the family. As she builds on this, she would likely grow to do bigger things, like take on management roles at school for things like team captains or student body president!
Speak Encouragement to Her!
Words are important! Make sure to have regular talks with your daughter. Encourage her to speak up about how she feels. If something made her feel sad or less than, talk her through what the cause was. Don’t invalidate her feelings; show her that you respect her experiences and points of view. This will help create a safe space in which she feels comfortable letting you in. Allowing her to speak freely will help strengthen your bond with her and build her trust in you. You’ll also be conveying to her that it is normal, necessary and important to speak up about how she feels. Whether it’s about things like interactions she had at school or how she feels about certain classes she’s taking, certain decisions that have been taken, like a family movie, or other things.
Lastly, don’t just wait for monumental, heart-to-heart talks with her to speak positively. Be sure your messaging to her is constructive. Try not to speak badly about how she looks, things such as hair, skin, features or weight. Remind her that she is beautiful just the way she is, no matter what. If she has challenges with her goals, remind her she can always get up and try again. Discourage giving up and encourage giving things her best! Every phrase, word and comment is a tiny pebble that builds towards a lifetime of a rock hard, resilient wall that will make her a strong, confident and self-relient, happy woman!