Raising a Confident Daughter
Although I believe that raising a confident son is just as important as raising a confident daughter, I have found that the methods are different to some extent, and that overall, boys get more positive messages from the media than girls do.
With one caveat – if a boy grows up to be a white, middle aged, middle class, and conservative male, he is screwed. The media is merciless. God help him.
The girls on shows geared to teenagers are generally flighty and air-headed bimbos or conniving mean girls. They generally aren’t good in math, are constantly applying makeup or looking in the mirror, and have a tendency to be boy crazy to the point that they use their sexuality to achieve what they want.
The focus on our girls is too often how they look and the result is that girls who are average looking are discriminated against, and girls who are considered pretty are discriminated against. Thin girls are encouraged to get breast enhancing bras and buxom girls are told to cover up their cleavage even if that means wearing turtlenecks.
It’s crazy because the entire focus is on appearances, and how we look changes over the years. Not only that, the common idea of beauty changes, too.
I think that it is a relatively simple process to build confidence in our girls, but the technique can be difficult for moms, aunts, and other female role models. Why?
Because we have to model that confidence we want to build in them and most of us just don’t have it.
If women didn’t focus on how they looked, fashion magazines would use normal, non-airbrushed models and size 12 would not be a plus size. The truth is that we do focus on how thin we are, how our hair looks, whether our butts are too big or our breasts are too small. Once we have decided the depth of our imperfections, we announce them to the world – often.
And our daughters mimic everything we do.
If we want to build confidence in our daughters, then we need to accept our own flaws and strengths and model confidence to them.
Of course, that’s a lot but it isn’t everything. Confidence comes with accomplishment, encouragement, and acceptance. Making positive statements about her choices, her character, and her personality are just as important as telling her she has gorgeous eyes.
Supporting and encouraging her interests and abilities helps to instill in her a sense of being a unique individual, and helps to take the focus off of her looks and place it on the things that she can control – grades, talents, kindness, and so on.
Accept that she has her own interests but expose her to as many things as you possibly can. Trips to art museums, sports events, botanical gardens, and observatories give her the opportunity to develop interests that you might not share.
For example, I really think sports are incredibly boring, but my girls have been involved in soccer, karate, and other sports over the years. I don’t care for these things but I go to support my kids. If I only took them to the things I like, they would be avid antique collectors that loved to shop for shoes.
If she loves math and science, take her to as many of the events and museums that feature those subjects as possible. If she loves make-up and princesses, let her explore those things as much as she wants to. I see too many women encourage their girls in one thing (like math) but not another (like princesses).
Confidence is about knowing who you are – and whether you are a rocket scientist or a make-up artist, that’s ok.
How do you build confidence in your girls?