Raising confident daughters in today’s world – filled with self-love, supermodels, ‘fitness goals,’ sexuality, and feminism – can get complicated.
Empowerment messages and women reaching impressive heights are everywhere, yet depression, anxiety, and immense pressure to perform make it challenging to navigate.
Women in a Modern World
My first thoughts are centered around raising our girls to love and appreciate their bodies.
Most women I know are continually dieting and comparing themselves to the ladies they see on social media. Normal women we tend to forget are only featuring posted snippets of their lives. They are not humans in real life, bending, folding, and moving naturally.
Then we also need to think about feminism and sexuality. Girls know that they can do anything they want, be anyone, have power over any man or woman, and have sex with whoever they want.
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of this. All of those things are quite empowering. But why are so many women faced with identity crises?
Why do women feel like they should do it all? How come we find ourselves trying to be the perfect mom, gardener, careerwoman, housekeeper, and wife? Why do women struggle to be who they are?
The answer – because we are sending them mixed messages.
You can do anything any man can do, but don’t forget to look pretty in the boardroom. Change the world, but don’t forget to have abs, be successful, and at least be married at 25. And WHY are you not posting anything on social media – you don’t want people thinking you’re a loser!
Let’s Start Raising Strong Daughters
So how do we go about raising confident daughters who believe in themselves and have high self-esteem without feeling pressured to over-perform all the time?
1. Let her be herself
Do you have a daughter who genuinely loves pink, sparkly things, makeup, and pop boybands? Does your girl want to run for president? Maybe she wants to get married and have babies? And yours, she wants to travel and hates the corporate world? Wow, great!
Don’t try forcing any of your wonderful daughters to become anything she isn’t.
Feminism is not about teaching all women to be camp fighters and have them burn their bras. It’s about teaching them to be confident and steadfast in their beliefs.
Teach them this so that it won’t shake their foundation every time someone makes a mean comment about their choice of life-partner, career, or body weight.
2. Be a role model
Children observe you closely – even your teenage daughter, who pretends not to care.
I know a lot of girls whose moms are frequently on crash diets. Of course, you are teaching your daughter that:
- There is something wrong with the way you currently look.
- Some foods are bad, and others are good.
- Food has a moral value (“I was bad, I ate ice cream, or I’ve been so good today, only ate a salad!”).
- You will only be happy if you’re thin.
And despite you telling your daughter that she’s perfect the way she is, your actions speak louder. So if you want your daughter to believe she looks fabulous, start thinking that YOU look perfect.
Do you want your girl to be healthy and move her body? Eat healthily and move YOUR body. The same thing goes for loving yourself and being truly happy with the person you are.
Your daughters will never love themselves and their life choices unless you’ve truly set an example of what a confident and empowered woman should be.
3. Make room for imperfections
First of all, her appearance is not an achievement.
Do all the boys think she’s pretty? Okay, great, but does she have friends, and is she a kind person? There’s nothing wrong with telling your daughter that she’s beautiful, but have her remember that she is much more than that. She knows she’s not perfect in every aspect, and so do you.
There is no need to break her down, only to build her up. So she hates math? Okay, how about language? Is she inadequate at sports? Yes, but what about her musical talent? Most of all, be the constant encourager she needs, not the relentless critic.
No one is perfect all of the time, and instead of breaking down her self-esteem with constant criticism about the things she’s mediocre at, try making room for her not to be perfect all the time.
Focus on raising a genuine person, not a perfect one.
4. Let her have opinions
Talk to her about the necessary things and let her believe she can be anything.
Help her form opinions of the world and its inhabitants.
Let her make up her mind about life and challenge those opinions. Ask questions that others may ask her about why she believes a certain way.
Maybe your daughter wants to be a reverend, or perhaps or she wants to be an engineer – jobs in a male environment. Or she could wish to be a hairdresser where most of her colleagues might be women.
That’s wonderful. Help your girls form their opinions and challenge them so they have a firm foundation to fall back on when people start questioning her.
5. Make your home a safe space from where she goes out into the world
A strong and confident woman is certain that she is loved and secure and that the people who care about her accept her, no matter what.
Try to keep the external stressors such as finances and world matters something you talk about, but not something that she should worry about as a young child.
The key to raising confident daughters is to give her a solid foundation from where she can go out into the world. That way, she will know that nothing can bring her down no matter what happens and what she chooses.
If you’ve created a safe and steady home environment, she won’t back down when she’s told that she’s fat or ugly or when someone makes a comment about her makeup and girly handbag.
A woman that stands on solid ground can rarely be shaken.
Do you have tips on how to raise a confident daughter? I’d love to hear your thoughts.