My Truth About Raising Girls

17 Mar My Truth About Raising Girls

When I first found out I was having a girl, I regretfully admit I was disappointed.  All I pictured were spa pedicures and fancy tea parties and matching mommy-and-me dresses.  The HORROR!!  Not being much of a “girly-girl”, the idea of princesses and Pepto Bismol pink everywhere made me nauseous.  “How could I raise this girl?  Would I have anything to offer her?”  Having an amazing mother of my own, left the fear of not being able to fill her shoes and do the same with my own daughter.  Even being a girl myself didn’t bring on the confidence of having the daughter deal all dialed in, especially in today’s society.  But the truth is, despite all my fears and doubts my little princess has been the greatest blessing of my life.  Yes, she’s obsessed with lavished tea parties and Disney Princesses and all shades of pink, yet surprisingly enough those things haven’t been all that bad.  In fact, those moments have brought us closer together creating a bond like no other.  And if I’m completely honest, dressing up like a princess has been lots of fun too. (HUSH! don’t tell anyone!)

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Interestingly enough, all has not been as expected.  She’s come with a few surprises of her own.  From her natural athleticism, obsessive hoarding, relentless chatting, to her latest attempts at sassiness (not sure who she gets that from), and still I wouldn’t want her any other way.  Best of all, God uses her to teach me so much about myself, from my strengths, to my weaknesses and insecurities.  For that I’m so grateful.  She continually motivates me to be a better person, an example, someone worth looking up to.   As a result, this drive has led to my endless research for ideas on raising my baby girl.  I’ve come across many experts’ tips and as expected some were great and some were garbage.  One that I found really helpful was a recent article I read on PBS Parents.  There I discovered many interesting thoughts that helped ease a lot of my anxiety.  I hope they do the same for you.  I’d love to get your feedback and maybe some thoughts, tips, or anything you’ve learned from your own experiences.  I’m pretty sure we can all use the help in raising our girls.

Encourage your daughter to pursue a passion.
“Full engagement with an activity she loves will give her the opportunity to master challenges, which will boost her self-esteem and resilience and affirm intrinsic values rather than appearance,” says Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out.

Let her have a voice in making decisions.
“Whenever possible, let her make constructive choices about her life. Let her choose her own clothes, within appropriate limits. Give her a voice in what after-school activities she participates in and how many she wants to do (as long as it works for the rest of the family, too). Remember that knowing what she cares about most will come from trying some things and finding she doesn’t like them, as well as from finding things she loves to do,” recommends Jane Katch, Ed.D., author of They Don’t Like Me.

Identify the values most important to your family.
“Consider the ways you convey these values, especially by example. What are the moments in your daily life when you can model the values you want your daughter to learn?” asks Simmons. “What traits and strengths do you want your daughter to develop as she grows?” asks Meg White, M.A. “See if these qualities are reflected in how you parent.”  I found this to be the hardest but most important tip!

Encourage her to solve issues on her own rather than fixing things for her.
“When parents take over, girls don’t develop the coping skills they need to handle situations on their own. Ask your daughter to consider three strategies she might use to deal with a situation, and then ask her about the possible outcomes. Let her decide what she wants to do (within reason). Even if you disagree with her choice, you give your daughter a sense of control over her life and show her that she is responsible for her decisions,” says Simmons.

Encourage her to take physical risks.
“Girls who avoid risks have poorer self-esteem than girls who can and do face challenges,” says JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., author of Girls Will Be Girls. “Urge your daughter to go beyond her comfort zone — for example, encourage a girl who’s scared to ride her bike downhill to find just a small hill to conquer first.” Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ed.D., co-author of Full of Ourselves: A Wellness Program to Advance Girl Power, Health and Leadership, agrees. “It’s important to help even non-athletic girls develop some physical competence and confidence when they’re young. Whether it’s through team or individual sports, girls need to form a physical relationship with their body that builds confidence.”  This one hit home for me because sometimes I’m the one that wants to keep her in a bubble and don’t allow her to take risks so she doesn’t get “hurt”.

Allow her to disagree with you and get angry.
“Raising a powerful girl means living with one. She must be able to stand up to you and be heard, so she can learn to do the same with classmates, teachers, a boyfriend, or future bosses,” says White. Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D., and Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., co-authors of Packaging Girlhood, write, “Girls need guidance about how to stay clear in their disagreements, and they need support for not giving up their convictions to maintain a false harmony. Help girls to make considered choices about how to express their feelings, and to whom.” Steiner-Adair notes that “Not all girls will want to do this, especially shy girls, but you can still help them develop the skills.”

Listen more than you talk.
“When we talk to girls, they often experience it as us talking at them, and they not only stop listening, they stop thinking and reflecting. But when we listen to them, they have to think about what they are saying, and they tend to reflect more. And we need to keep an open dialogue — we can’t dismiss their chatter about ups and downs of friendship as trivial, and then expect them to talk to us about the important stuff,” says Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., co-author of Mom, They’re Teasing Me.  So hard to do…

Limit your daughter’s exposure to the media and popular culture when she is young.
“This will give her more time to develop her own ideas, creativity, and imagination from her direct first-hand experience.  As she grows, media messages will start to get in, so having rules and routines from the start can help your daughter control her own experiences as she gets older,” says Diane Levin, Ph.D, author of So Sexy So Soon.

Enjoy her!
“Having a girl can be exciting and energizing. Find activities you both enjoy and do them regularly together. Maybe you both like cooking or having breakfast together, hiking or reading books,” says Katch. “Try to keep this connection as she gets older — if times ever get tough, you’ll appreciate this special bond you share!”

For the full list of tips and more check out the article Raising a Powerful Girl.

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She gives the best cuddles!

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My sweet baby all dolled up.

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She’s always up for any adventure.

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She’s obsessed with makeup… HELP!

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Tea parties for days.

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Bedtime shenanigans are the sweetest.

4 Comments
  • Sandy
    Posted at 00:46h, 03 September Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to write this blog and listing these resources … my girl is about to be 10 years old … time is flying me by

    • admin
      Posted at 19:48h, 28 September Reply

      It’s crazy how quickly time passes. I’m so glad you found these resources helpful!

  • Rita Stewart
    Posted at 06:34h, 03 September Reply

    Oh how I love this article!
    We raised a beautiful, compassionate, strong girl with a pep in her step! She’s such a wonderful young adult today, definitely looking forward to witnessing her journey.

    What resonated the most about what you shared and has been most beneficial I believe is allowing your girl to argue, be angry and express her truth. Trust me on this! I’ve now witnessed my daughter take a stance and effectively and respectfully defend herself many times. Talk about a great feeling. I prayed not to have a whimpy child and that she is not, she never has been!

    • admin
      Posted at 19:55h, 28 September Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing! I’m so glad to hear that it works. I believe this brings so much hope to moms with younger girls, like myself, who are still trying to figure things out.

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