From the moment parents gaze upon their daughter’s newborn face, the words “my beautiful girl” are uttered. From infancy to independence, young girls are empowered to attempt new challenges, make mistakes, view the world without hesitancy, all the while feeling confident. Their accomplishments are defined in terms of verbal praise, such as “smart cookie,” “good girl” or simply, as “amazing!” Their first challenge comes in meeting new friends and practicing the art of friendship, learning about personal strengths and weaknesses, and in the feeling of disappointment, abandonment, or failure that comes naturally with the games of childhood. If the child begins kicking the floor with a lowered head, moms and dads arrive to save the day with a pep talk, boosting both self-esteem and feelings. While praise is a form of support, this feeling of empowerment needs to come from within and be believed. The day always comes when they must stand tall and say the mantra in their own minds.
Open and Honest Conversations
As women and mothers, we are given a chance to teach our daughters lessons and knowledge from our own experiences. The times are strikingly different, however. In this technologically advanced world, where any answer is just a search-engine search away, topics can no longer be viewed as taboo, only openly discussed without hesitation or worry. If not in your safety and confidence, she’ll seek a response from another source. And, how reliable could that source be?
Tip: Conversations do not have to wait until she is ready to ask, you can start the dialogue. Daughters need the chance to discuss their feelings and thoughts concerning beauty and self-image, sexuality and sex, and relationships. This is one means to empower their understanding and decisions. Dads, too, can always have their little girl sit down and share the good news with the bad. She’ll need you both in those bad, uncertain days. The best part is, the love and honesty can continue!
Who Am I?
We live in a society where the ideal image is defined and measured in popularity. The culture of beauty and judgment has taught girls to criticize their own bodies or to behave in ways that make them feel shocked or uncomfortable. “Who am I?” is a wonderful question that cannot be fully reflected in a mirror. Beauty and self-image come from knowing your inner strength lies in special gifts and talents, intelligence, and a personal beauty. It is discovering that change means growth, not stepping out of who each of us is. It is a difficult lesson, but girls can stand strong and remain true to themselves, too! Jen Paugh writes, “When my daughter was younger, I constantly told her she could do it all. Now, that she’s a teen, I point out when women are put down or held back just because they are female. We discuss why it happens, and how to work around it. Now, when she’s told she can’t because she is a girl, she can recognize the double standard, shrug her shoulders, and say, ‘Watch me!’”
Girls and Friendship
In a safe place, among family, daughters become empowered from the love, encouragement, and support they receive. Family support is one attribute which largely impacts the feelings with which our daughters label themselves. She may say, “I am smart” or “With practice, I keep improving.” Do our daughters feel the same strength, support, and love from their closest friends? Defining the strengths in friendships can aid girls in setting their own boundaries to maintain, or find the relationships in which they need to grow.
No matter what our age, each of us has a unique gift or talent. In the right element, engaging in one’s passion has its own feeling of empowerment, but what about trying something new? Learning occurs when mistakes are made, new friendships are formed, and a girl’s self-confidence can grow by leaps and bounds by learning and gaining new skills. It proves another credo, “I am capable of anything!”