The first time I held my baby girl in my arms, I knew I have an important responsibility to protect this little girl and raise her to be strong, happy and capable.
When she was a toddler, I made sure she had the happiest of childhood and everything at her disposal to grow and blossom. When she picked blue as her favourite colour at two years old, I patted myself on my back for raising a gender-neutral child. When she demonstrated gumption in solving her own problems at four years old when we were too busy to attend to her, I congratulated myself on her resourcefulness.
But as she matured, my parenting goal to raise a confident daughter was challenged. As a primary school student, I was concerned her shyness would limit her ability to make friends or render her vulnerable to bullies. Then I worry that as a teenage girl, she might succumb to peer pressure or have self-esteem or body image issues.
The Importance of Raising Confident Daughters
I realised then that raising confident daughters is so much more than just keeping her happy.
It is about helping our daughter accept her uniqueness and embracing her imperfections.
It is about empowering her to make the right decisions to scale greater heights and exceed conventional boundaries. It is about instilling social confidence so she can build a strong support system from the men and women she meets in her future.
It is about equipping her with the right skills to deal with mental issues like depression and anxiety and empowering her with strong tools to break through social conventions like sexism, gender stereotypes and limiting beliefs.
While we see more power women breaking glass ceilings in politics, business, science and entertainment industries, these female role models are still far and few in between. Raising confident daughters means helping them reach their full potential as young women.
Parenting Tips for Raising Daughters
“Teach your daughters to worry less about fitting into the glass slippers and more about shattering the glass ceiling” ~ Anonymous
If you are as keen as I am to raise confident daughters, here are a few parenting tips you can adopt to raise strong and happy daughters.
1. Tell Her You Believe in Her
Starting from a young age, tell your daughter you believe in her. Be genuine and authentic in your belief. Not all children are geniuses or prodigies, but your child will appreciate if you notice her efforts and improvements from one month to the next.
Use specific examples when you compliment or praise her. For example, tell her “you have a really good memory” or “you really know your stuff when it comes to astronomy.”
2. Encourage Her to Pursue Her Interests, Skills & Academics
Encourage her to play sports if she wants to. Let her try sports or activities traditionally reserved for boys. Give her the chance to find out what she’s capable of and let her decide if the sport or activity is the right one for her.
Do not be too quick to “rescue” her. While you want to let her know that you are there to support her, do challenge her to figure out solutions to her problems.
3. Encourage Her to be Assertive
Teach your daughter to express her needs to adults and stand her ground with her peers. Coach her to say “I don’t like the way you’re talking to me,” to peers who are mean to her. Urge her to have an opinion or voice in matters that are important to her and guide her to say it in a way that she is heard.
4. Help Her to Have a Healthy Body Image and Love Her Looks
Praise her appearance by telling her she looks pretty or how graceful she behaved. Talk positively about women with different body shapes and their wonderful personalities. Share with her that the models in magazines are touched up to look flawless. Celebrate the way real women look in their natural state.
5. Prepare Her for Traditional Social Conventions
Even today, sexism, gender stereotype and social bullying still exist. Discuss what these terms mean and how your daughter can overcome them.
Read books or watch movies that debunk these traditional social conventions. Follow her cues and keep the conversations going with your daughter to allow her to voice her curiosity or share her opinions.
Remember to maintain an open mind.
6. Point Out Strong Female Role Models
Aside from adopting the above parenting tips for raising strong and confident daughters, mothers are usually their daughters’ first role models.
Take every opportunity to point out strong female role models that have made a positive mark in this world. Discuss the traits that quantify them as trailblazers and how they debunked the myths of sexism and gender-types to become strong and confident women.
Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Marie Curie (Scientist), Pink (Entertainer), Josephine Teo (Singapore politician) or Halimah Yacob (President of Singapore) are just a few examples of today’s female role models.
The above parenting tips for raising confident daughters are easy to adopt. Have you raised a confident daughter? Tell us how you did it.