"Last weekend, my husband needed to get some spare parts from the hardware store two streets away. He was feeling rather down and decided to ask our son to do it. On a second thought, he asked our 14 year old daughter to go get the parts and gave her the cash she needed."
Why? Because the first place that children, girls in this case, learn gender roles is at home. As such, we have both decided to teach our girls that there shouldn't be any gender assigned roles. If you want your girls to be strong independent women, ladies that can handle leadership roles effectively, that can make decisions on their own without easily giving into pressure, then you must begin to instill such concepts in their minds now.
Why You Should Raise Your Daughter(s) To Be Strong And Independent.
Perhaps you are of the opinion that all this independent talk is baloney. Or maybe you do not understand why strong is the new pretty for girls. But you should know that sticking to your opinion or failing to unlearn can cause a negative impact on your kids. Here are 3 reasons why you should raise independent girls.
The World is Changing
There was a time when the hallmark of a lady was her physical beauty or her marital status. In most cases, a woman's worth was defined by childbearing, her ability to cook and keep the house clean. But now, the narrative is changing completely. Women are no longer defined by these stereotypes and if your daughter is not taught of her worth outside reproduction, she would be swept beneath the reality of life in the 21st century
She Deserves The Very Best Out Of Life
A primary reason for you to raise your daughter to be strong and independent is simply because she deserves a good life. The world is a harsh place and any child that is not well equipped for it will be overwhelmed by challenges. More so, every girl deserves to have a pick of the best life she can live. This can only happen when she has been taught to believe in herself, to push her limits and to make wise decisions for herself.
Lastly, It Is The Right Thing To Do
One of the top reasons for low self esteem in young girls is because they have learnt to depend on other people's opinion on what or who they should be. The sad part is that this gradually culminates into harmful tendencies like remaining in abusive relationships, anorexia, depression, self mutilation, etc. It will shock you to know that (insert link to recommendable source).
Don't panic, there's good news! You can change the narrative for your beautiful baby girl. Whether she is 3 months old or well into her teens, it is not too late to teach her how to be her own person. To break free from other people opinions and to be completely dependent on herself.
Here Are 12 Sure Ways To Help Your Daughter Become A Strong, Independent Woman.
Allow her to write her own story
When your baby girl is born, do you immediately say; “oh my, she's going to make the cutest nurse someday”? Or maybe it's chef, teacher, masseuse, therapist, or whatever role you think is best for her. The secret to raising independent girls is letting them be in control of their fate. What this means is allowing her to be a nurse but only because she wants to! Letting her be the princess she sees on Disney because she wants to! Allowing her become an engineer because she is in love with the profession!
She might not love dresses, but give her the opportunity to appreciate them and let her make her choice. An important quality of a strong, independent girl is that she knows her likes and dislikes. She is not influenced by other people and this starts from you as her parent.
Get rid of these words from your vocabulary; "you're not a boy", "act like a girl"
From an early age, most girls begin to hear things like "stop doing this, you are not a boy". This mindset comes from all directions: school, religious institutions, home, the media, etc. When a girl wants to play with blocks or cars or action figures, someone scolds her for acting like a boy. She is progressively being programmed to think that she is weak and as such can't be involved in strenuous or more lively activities. A wall to limit her is already being built around her. Your duty as a parent who wants to raise strong and pretty daughters is to break down these walls of gender stereotypes. Better still, show them that no one can limit them without their consent.
Teach her to value inner beauty over outward appearances
Media misrepresentation shows itself in many ways, such as gender based marketing, gender based career stereotypes, etc. However, one of the most damaging effect of the media is their misrepresentation of what beauty should mean. They paint an image of the perfect girl in the minds of children as early as possible. Pictures of ultra slim models with a "perfect" figure, with long blond hair and a perfect smile, fill the cover pages of magazines. Social media has only served to escalate this mindset.
If you want to raise strong independent girls, you must help them see that strong is the new pretty. That the basis of their making friends at school should be how kind the person is, not how beautiful. Praise the good things models and celebrities do, and help her to see that while she can appreciate how pretty they look, she should judge people not based on their physical attributes, but based on who they are. One way you can instill this is by complimenting your daughter when she does something nice as well as telling her that she looks beautiful.
Let her learn how to recognize and build healthy relationships
As a growing child, your daughter is going to meet a lot of people in her life. At school, in the neighborhood and in your family. One thing that she must learn is how to build relationships. Encourage her to say hello to the new girl on the block. Ask her to share her snacks with the boy next door. Teach her to be bold but polite. This doesn't mean you should force her to be an extrovert when she is more content around lesser people. Either way, you must let her know that she is worth having friends, that she deserves love and deserves to be respected just as she should respect others.
It is necessary for every girl to be able to recognize unhealthy relationships. Maybe there is a friend that she always tries to please, or a boy she likes but who doesn't respect her values or opinions. Your duty as her parent is to let her know that she doesn't have to accept ill treatment and that she can always leave such a relationship.
Place her around positive role models irrespective of gender
People commonly say we should surround our girls with powerful women they can look up to if we want them to become strong and independent women. While this is true, it is in itself stereotypical. Let your daughters look up to strong, independent models of both genders. Encourage them to build bonds with their father, brothers, cousins, etc. Let them learn that they deserve respect from the men around them.
If you truly want them to break free from gender roles, don't teach them that men are the abusers in relationships. If you have had negative experiences before, do not let them adopt their mindset from that.
Show them that it is okay to look up to male role models as well as females.
She should learn to accept responsibility from an early age
Learning to accept responsibility us what builds girl leadership. As a growing child, allow her to make her own decisions. It can be as simple as picking a school out of two previously reviewed options. Or allowing her to choose what skill she would like to learn during summer.
Give her specific tasks to carry out, place her in charge of a project at home. Let her participate in planning the family's summer vacation. Let her learn how to handle money, save up for the things she wants, help plan the family's budget for the month, etc.
Your daughter should understand that her happiness comes first
In your efforts to help your girl child break free from stereotyped behavior, her happiness must be the number one priority. What this means is that she shouldn't be afraid to show her emotions out of being classified as 'just behaving like a girl'. Let her know that it's okay to be hurt and show it. That tears don't make her weak. That it's okay to love pink without loving dolls. That it's okay to take a beauty nap, to stay hydrated for a beautiful skin. To treat herself to a wonderful day at the spa.
In the bid to become an independent lady, she shouldn't strive to be a 'hard girl'. Breaking one mold only to confirm to another isn't a solution.
You must teach her to push her limits
A strong independent woman is one who pushes beyond the lines society has drawn around her.
One way to do this is to keep learning. Let her be exposed to things, new ideas, innovations, politics, nature, anything and everything.
Teach her how to handle rejection
One thing that any woman in power in any sphere of life knows well is how to handle rejection. Not everyone will love your daughter. Not everyone will think the world of her or believe in her it accepts her opinions. Let her know that this is a normal part of life. You can do this by pointing out that she also does not accept everyone's opinion.
So when she us rejected, maybe for a leadership role, or a girls' club, or by a love interest, let her know that it has nothing to do with her self-worth, and that she can recover and move on.
Let her know that it is perfectly ok to ask for help
Being a strong, independent woman doesn't mean you should be an island. Everyone needs help. Even the president has a vice president! You can't do everything yourself and it's ok to ask for help. This can be in the form of hiring a chef even when she knows how to cook. It could be dropping her baby off at a trusted day care so she can focus on her upcoming exams. It can even be calling a mechanic to change her flat tire although she knows how to do it herself.
Show her that mistakes are a normal part of life
If you want to raise an independent girl that is both strong and pretty, it is important to allow her to make mistakes and learn from them. This doesn't mean you should always guide her or warn her off from self destructive behaviors. Share your own past mistakes with her and how you overcame them. When she comes crying home, give her a hug and show her how to push through. Everyone makes mistakes, so don't allow her to be defined by hers.
Be a strong and independent woman yourself
When has “do as I say” ever worked? The best way to raise strong independent girls, girls that understand egalitarianism and feminism, that have broken free from gender roles and gender stereotypes, is to be one yourself.
No pressure there, right? Remember that, once again, no one is perfect. So on your journey to be a worthy role model for your daughter, forgive yourself for mistakes, write your own story, appreciate your outer and inner beauty and don't forget to stay hydrated!