Empowering Our Daughters

My six year old daughter walked up to me the other day and said, “Mom, I was weak and now I am strong.  And in my mind, I can do anything.”

I felt like the air was sucked out of my lungs.  I got down on her level and said, “Girl, with your smarts,heart, and talent you certainly can.”

As a woman, sister, high school teacher, and mother, I have lived and seen many of the trials and tribulations that girls face in today’s world.  They are consistently bombarded by mixed messages.  Speak up and share your ideas and opinions. Don’t share too much or you might offend someone.  You need to dress and act like celebrities to get attention.  You are as pretty as a princess.  It is the mind that matters.  Just be yourself.  You can be anything you want to be.  This is what we have planned for your future.  These mixed messages are received at very young age.  They confuse young girls and cause them to feel lost, looking on what to do next, craving some direction.

There are many things that we can do as parents to empower our daughters to be themselves, strong, and confident.

  • Provide them with a variety of activities in which they can participate.  Girls need the room to cultivate their own interests without the stigma of gender attached.  Ask your daughter what their interests are and then find opportunities to expand upon those interests. Don’t worry if your daughter is not good at what they want to pursue or it is typically a “boys thing”.  The real motive is to have your daughter decide for herself where her interests lie.
  • Teach your daughter assertiveness skills. As parents, we find the need to jump in and fix problems for our daughters. We may stand up to a bully for her or we may find ways to coddle them. We may be passing on the misconception that girls need to be “nice” at all times, and if they are not agreeable then they won’t be liked. By giving our daughters specific assertiveness tools, like how to deal with a bully on the playground or how to talk to their teacher about a problem, we give them the practice they need to succeed in life.
  • Talk to your daughter about the messages that they see amongst their friends and in the media. Present your criticisms of negative body images that your child sees, while providing her with an alternative role model.  Ask your daughters opinion of situations, taking time to listen and respond appropriately.  Discuss women that you find as good role models for your daughter and discuss what you like about each one.
  • Look to yourself.  As busy parents, particularly mothers, we often lose ourselves in the daily grind. We don’t take the time to cultivate our own interest, don’t take the time to take care of ourselves, or worse, we propagate negative self talk. These are all messages that we are passing on to our daughters.
  • Have high expectations for your daughter.  Expect your daughter to be strong and competent.  However, make sure that your daughter understands that you will support her in all her endeavors. The goal is not to make our daughters into what we think they should be or what they should accomplish, but we allow them to work to the best of their abilities.

Raising strong and confident daughters means providing our girls with the tools and means for success.  Don’t hesitate or back away from the tough conversations.  Through offering understanding and perspective, we can provide an environment for our daughters to be the best version of themselves.

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9 Responses to “Empowering Our Daughters”

  1. nikki 16 February 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Perfectly Stated!!!!!!!


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  3. CynthiaK 16 February 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Absolutely. More than ever, we have to work hard to make sure our daughters become strong, healthy and smart young women.
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  4. TJB 17 February 2010 at 9:22 am #

    I’m not a parent, but I am a woman. And often times I need a reminder for myself how to be empowered. Amazing points and wonderfully written. Thank you for writing this.
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    Corina Reply:

    I do too, which is why I wrote it. I think that we often forget ourselves. We lose ourselves in the day to day, listen to what we are supposed to be, supposed to look like, supposed to act…. and it conflicts with our true being. I honestly thought at 30, some of my own insecurities would melt away. I would be comfortable with myself and my place in life. But my own identity crisis continues in fits and starts as I go on. Wait….. maybe this should be a post.


  5. ErinB. 17 February 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    Really great post! As a mom, I am learning that all of the above are so very true and crucial to raising a strong daughter. You must really be doing a great job!


  6. Grammy 17 February 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    I would frame that one – so she can read it regularly to remind her of that moment. She will have weak moments and that is often when we make those stupid decisions that detour our lives.


  7. Amber 17 February 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    I find the media messages our young daughters receive to be so disappointing. I strive to do these things, but it’s not always apparent to me that my child is hearing what I’m saying. I just try to trust that she is, and know that in the end my example will matter more than a cartoon princess. At least, I really hope so.
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  8. SilentBen 18 February 2010 at 11:57 am #

    An important and well stated message. I think some other important points are (a) to lead by example – it is easier for our daughters to be strong and independent if they have a model for the behavior – and (b) not to forget a father’s role in this development – how a father treats and allows himself to be treated by the women in his life greatly impacts the type of women his daughters become.
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