It’s different being a girl today than it was when we were kids. I’m what they call a Xennial: a millennial who grew up before social media. I wasn’t allowed to have a Myspace page (remember those?). I attended a school where uniforms eliminated the need to wear cool outfits. Even with pressures removed, I still struggled with self-image. I never felt like I was enough. Now that I’m a mother, I want to know how to raise a self-confident daughter.
It’s daunting to imagine her teen years. The battle for women’s self-image is only intensifying. A constant deluge of images and technology means she’ll experience things I never did as a teen. But I want her interior compass to be oriented toward truth. And I know it starts with these 5 truths.
You don’t have to be sexy.
Every December for several years, a few dozen Victoria’s Secret models strutted down a runway in revealing lingerie. Millions of girls tuned in, gulping down brownies and body shame. Why are women with body types unattainable for most held up as the expectation of beauty? I want my daughter to love and celebrate her beautiful body exactly as it is. I want her to know she deserves to be loved, not used. In a culture that reduces sex to a recreational activity, I want her to know that both her body and sex are sacred. A satisfying sex life is one with the permanent love and pledge of a husband.
You don’t have to be famous or rich.
No one lies on her deathbed saying, “My greatest accomplishments were making millions and my Instagram account!” I want my daughter to know she is priceless regardless of her net worth or her number of followers. Everything we labor for and earn in life should serve our greater purpose. She’s meant for more than human approval, materialism, and comfort. I pray for a discerning heart for her as she decides what is truly valuable.
You don’t have to be dominant.
Much of what I see touted as “women’s empowerment” puts enormous pressure on women to be everything to everyone. She doesn’t have to do everything a man does, be a boss babe, or command a board room. She’s a beloved daughter and she’s entitled to walk in deep security and hope and it’s entirely possible to do that with a meek personality. Her gentle nature possesses a unique power to enlist a man’s higher nature simply by being herself. People around her will treasure having her as a trusted and reliable confidant who empowers them through loving deeply.
Much of what I see touted as “women’s empowerment” puts enormous pressure on women to be everything to everyone.
You don’t have to wear name brands.
Philosopher Rene Girard coined the phrase “mimetic desire,” which is the desire to have what everyone else wants. As a teenager, peer pressure is enormous (I remember coveting those American Eagle jeans as a teen!). I want my daughter to be content liking what she genuinely likes. She doesn’t need name brands to fit in, at least not with people who are true friends. My husband and I value thrift store shopping for clothes. We hope to pass a money-saving mentality on to her instead of one of entitlement.
You don’t have to follow the crowd.
Many social issues that are popular right now are going to pass and I want my daughter to pursue timeless wisdom rather than what’s hot right now. Sadly, I see mainstream media assign labels to people they disagree with to pigeonhole and silence them. We are becoming polarized and losing the art of dialogue as a society. I want my daughter to be courageous and seek the truth even when it’s unpopular. I know that thinking critically instead of sliding along with what everyone else does will lead her to an authentic and satisfying life.
Now it’s your turn: If someone asked you how to raise a self-confident daughter, what’s one thing you would tell them?