Raising a daughter is all about balancing conflicting statements. We want them to be strong, but not domineering. We encourage them to be assertive, but not bossy. Be independent, but willing to rely on others. We teach them to be feminine, but shy away from anything that might be considered “anti-feminist.” There’s clearly a lot of confusion about what our daughters need. It’s hard being a girl in today’s world, but it’s just as hard to be a girl’s mother.
It’s hard being a girl in today’s world, but it’s just as hard to be a girl’s mother.
With all these conflicting statements, it’s easy to lose sight of what our daughters actually need. Sure, we can all agree that we have to build her confidence and self-worth. But did you know your daughter also needs these 5 things?
Your daughter needs to be disappointed from time to time. We can’t always win and sometimes life just doesn’t play out the way we wanted it to. Sometimes we disappoint ourselves and other times people we look up to fall short of our expectations.
You might want to shield your daughter from disappointment, but it’s more helpful if we let her experience and learn to manage that pain. It’s an opportunity to talk to her about injustice, consequences, and realistic expectations. If she can gain a better understanding of those things, she’ll grow up to be more capable of handling the rejections and disappointments that typically come with adulthood.
She needs to be assertive. One of my best friends growing up was what you might call bossy. She had friends, but she had a few enemies too. She was regularly told she needed to be less aggressive because her behavior was not appropriate for a girl. But sometimes we need to assert ourselves.
Your daughter needs to know she can put her foot down and stand up for herself (or someone else). She needs to know it’s possible to speak her mind and still show respect and kindness. When we allow our girls to assert themselves, we tell them their voices matter.
Nearly every teen I have ever worked with has struggled with perfectionism in some way. They feel like everyone wants them to be perfect—their parents, their friends, and their classmates. And because there is always an option to filter a photo, it’s impossible not to focus on all the imperfections the filter can erase.
Your daughter needs space to make mistakes and learn. She not only needs to know her imperfections are OK, but she needs to embrace them because they make our talents, personalities, and relationships richer.
She needs permission not to be the prettiest, thinnest, or smartest. We love to compare ourselves to one another. It starts young, and it doesn’t go away with age. I wanted to be prettier in high school, and I still sometimes find myself wishing I were prettier. But who told us we have to be at the top? Why can’t we feel content with just being a happy, healthy version of ourselves?
Your daughter needs permission to just be herself because she will never win at this game of comparisons. And if she thinks that as a woman she is supposed to have some constant desire to be prettier than the next girl, then she will live life striving to be someone else instead of growing into the woman she is made to be.
She needs to hear fairy-tale princess stories. The traditional Disney princesses might not be the best role models for girls, but girls still need to hear those stories. Our daughters need to know they deserve someone willing to fight for them and that we all need to be saved from time to time.
Fairy tales also show us that while evil does exist, good wins in the end. And fairy tales aren’t all just flowing dresses and pretty songs. The girls who get their happily ever after in the end usually had to fight some ogres, dragons, or evil witches. Our daughters might need to fight like those princesses, too.
What do you wish your mother had shared with you about what girls need?