50 Favorite Words - #12 Empower
As the mother of two amazing daughters (ages 13 and almost 17), I marvel daily at their strength, resilience, and verve. So as you can imagine, I was very excited when my friend and colleague, Dr. Carly Snyder invited me onto her radio show, MD for Moms to talk about raising strong and confident daughters. To prepare for the show, I began contemplating the factors that contributed to the awesomeness of my girls (I am pretty sure I only get partial credit as their Mom). I also tried to read all I could about various ways of motivating and building confidence in our daughters.
Thinking about ways to empower our daughters to grow into brave, confident, self-actualized women - I was struck by the ways that, as women, we often disempower ourselves. I think it is time we change this. So I invite you to consider what you could do (for yourself) by modeling a few of the tips below that I give to moms to inspire them to raise fierce daughters.
1. Allow your daughter to feel a broad range of emotions. From an early age, girls' negative emotions are often labeled as sadness and they are often then socialized against feeling and expressing anger. Over time, this can lead to a young woman taking negative interactions and internalizing them, blaming herself. This can also make it very difficult to resolve conflict and learn to be direct in communications.
How does this apply to us? Notice times when you feel a flash of anger that turns into feeling sadness and/or blaming yourself. Decide that it would be OK to feel your anger and maybe even express it.
2. Encourage assertiveness. It is possible to be confident and direct and still likable and kind.
How does this applies to us? Practice assertiveness – set a limit, give constructive feedback, say “No.”
3. Give your daughter accurate praise about things that matter. Often we overpraise (your daughter will soon figure out that she is not the best at everything). Accurate praise leads to a foundation of true self-confidence. Additionally, we have a tendency to value girls predominately for their physical attributes or their submissiveness. Being a “good girl” usually means being quiet and cooperative and rarely refers to boldly speaking one’s mind.
How does this apply to us? Notice when something goes well and give yourself credit. Allow yourself to trust your own competence, feel pride and to show it.
4. Give your daughter opportunities to show she is capable. Don’t swoop in to fix every little thing or take care of things that are challenging. Give your daughter a chance, through trial and error to master tasks on her own.
How does this apply to us? Challenge yourself to try something new and work at it to give yourself a chance to misstep, recover and to excel at it.
What would it be like if you decided to empower yourself to be strong and confident? What if your daughter noticed and practiced your behavior?
P.S. The above is obviously written primarily to women - but if there are any dads out there or men who are helping to raise girls and young women - you play an essential role as well. In fact, a girl's relationship with her father (or father figure) is one of the best predictors of her self-esteem as a teenager and adult. So, consider all of the ways that you can teach your daughter to be strong, to feel valued, and to openly express herself. Show her you love her, unconditionally. Be aware of gender stereotypes and value your daughter for her character and smarts - giving her opportunities to be whoever she wants to be.