I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about this topic. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out how to start it. I started and then stopped, again and again. I would write an opening paragraph, and then delete it and start over. Finally, I just decided to tell you the truth…
This post isn’t for everyone. It may offend some. You may disagree. You probably will.
But for some…it’s exactly right. And that’s enough for me.
This post is about raising daughters. Yikes! Right!?! Now do you understand the hesitation?
I believe raising our children is the single most important thing we will do in our lifetime. We will affect our world in many, many ways…how we raise our children will be one of the most enduring ways we affect the world around us. Not that we should be wholly absorbed with parenting. No, it’s not our entire life…it’s a part of it, a time of it. But, while in that time parenting should be terribly important and thoughtful.
Raising a daughter is a challenge. Or, it should be. If it isn’t hard…you are either screwing up, fooling yourself, or have been blessed with a true angel. All three are highly unlikely. So, you will at some point find yourself at a loss, frustrated, and upset.
And you can guess what prompted this post? …The hellabaloo that Miley Cyrus has begun.
If you aren’t up to speed, then allow me. Sunday night at the VMA awards Miley Cyrus performed. And when I say performed…that’s really a disservice to the other fabulous artists that DID perform. She embarrassed herself, her family, and frankly…me. I don’t want to bash her, or say nasty things about her. That’s not what this is about. I feel like bringing her home, giving her a cookie, and loving on her. She needs it.
And, it makes me realize how very important raising a daughter can be. And hard. Oh gosh…so hard. And so, this post was born.
I had a lot of content on this post ready to go. It was beautiful. And then I posted this question on my Facebook page…
I’m sitting and writing a post about raising a daughter. The whole Miley Cyrus thing got me thinking…
What is the #1 tip those of you that are/have raising daughters would give?
And the responses came pouring in. Oh boy were they wise, and wonderful, and so in keeping with my own thoughts. So, I used them. What you see here are quotes from the Facebook responses that echo my own sentiments. I hope some of these tips will be just what you need in those helpless parenting moments!
15 Tips for Raising A Daughter:
1. “Self worth is one of single most important things YOU as a mother should emulate.” (this quote is mine ;)) If you want to teach your daughter to value herself…YOU need to value yourself.
2. “Let them know you will always be there for them, even after they’ve made an ass of themselves.” We all make mistakes. So will your daughter…often. She needs to know that you are there. Always. Every time. Without exception.
3. “Every experience is a good experience, IF you learn something.” Don’t let her stress out and freak out about new things, or bad choices, or awkward moments. Teach her that every moment is one in which to learn. To be able to learn from our experiences is what makes us greater people.
4. “Respect yourself if you want others to respect you…Its that simple.” Oh boy, is that true! Your daughter needs to know (and I surely hope that you’re practicing this yourself! If not, you might as well just give up this one…YOU have to do this first!) that she ALLOWS others to treat her poorly, or well. It is always her choice. Okay, almost always.
5. “Everyday give a hug and tell her how much you love her, and every chance you get let her know you are proud of her.” Get over feeling awkward. I tell you…Katie hit the age where she grew boobs (sorry Katie!) and it was a bit strange at first giving her a hug. That sounds so lame, I know. But, I truly did have to just get over it. Awkwardness isn’t an excuse, laziness, anger, arguments…whatever the reason…get over it!! You know how you hear again and again, “you never know when will be your last day”? It’s true, you don’t. So just do it…hugs, I love you’s, I’m proud of you, hey…you are awesome! Do them!
6. “Give your daughter/child a smile everyday. Encourage a strong father/daughter bond.” So, this is two fold. The first part, giving your child a smile, goes along with tip #5. You should not be carrying a grudge against your daughter. She might have one against you. It may last 3-10 years depending on how lucky you are. You Do Not Have The Right To Hold A Grudge. Did you hear me? YOU are the PARENT. Don’t do it. Smile, hug, and all that stuff. Be a parent and not take things personally.
6. part b. Father/daughter bond. This might not be possible for everyone. And that’s okay. I didn’t have this growing up. In fact, it’s been mostly the opposite…my father has been a negative part of my life. But, if at all possible encourage a great relationship between father and daughter. This relationship is different than a mother/daughter relationship and will create so many more positives for your daughter’s life.
7. “Have open and honest dialogue about EVERYTHING! Nothing is off limits…sex, drugs, drinking, etc. I’m proud to have a strong bond with my girl and my sons!” Did you see those words? Sex, drugs, drinking? Yikes! I’d even add in religion and politics!! Raising a daughter means talking about everything. But mostly…listen! And be willing to allow them their own opinions.
I want to say this right about here…
You will not agree with everything your children present. But, you didn’t agree with your parents. Each generation has its own set of social norms, political environments, and cultural differences. Think about the difference between pre 9/11 and after 9/11 (if you are old enough to do that :). Just in my lifetime the difference for my daughter growing up in this country is vastly different from what I knew. I have to remember that, and remember that her perspective is coming from a different (and valid) place than mine.
Do not try to prove a point or be right. Just talk.
8. “I think the most important thing you can instill in your daughter is self-confidence. If she has self-confidence she can handle anything that comes her way!” Can I ask you…how do you make sure that your daughter has self-confidence? Have it for yourself!! And then teach her that she is truly wonderful and special…just as she is. She needs to be okay in her own skin. But, if you aren’t…she won’t learn that valuable lesson from you. You better hope someone else brilliant is around to teach her that for you!
9. “Talk to your daughters about SEX! Talk to them as soon as possible, talk often, talk about everything concerning sex. Joke about it, be casual about it, ask them questions, tell them things you would be embarrassed to let your own mother know you knew!” Gah…I said it again SEX. That’s like the 4th time SEX is in this post (now 5th). Google is going to have a field day with this post. I better not get yucky spam!—– back to the point at hand. One of the top worries as a parent is how our children will handle sex. And there is a difference in the way girls and boys have to deal with it. I don’t know why, it isn’t fair, but it is. And why is it that one of the top worries of parents is often the one thing we talk about the least? Dumb, stupid, shameful. Do NOT make sex unapproachable. Do make it a normal part of life. You might not agree with me about that. But let me ask you…how many adults in this world deal with sex at some level? I bet it’s upwards of 90%. You get what I am saying? Why is something so mainstream, so universally felt and dealt with by all cultures and people, so hard to talk about with your child? Get over it. If you don’t, they’ll learn their own way.
10. “Unconditional love….be a mom first, then a friend…and try to get them to understand they do not need to look like a Barbie doll and magazine’s air brush!!” I totally agree with this! You are their PARENT…not friend. They have friends, they don’t need more. Seriously…stop. You are hurting them more than you realize. Be a parent.
10b. The topic of body image is one that is terribly important. For girls in our culture it is increasingly difficult to look in the mirror and see beauty. Scratch the girl part. For WOMEN. The idea of beauty that is thrown at us is unachievable. We know this in our heads. But, try to truly believe that. It doesn’t work…does it? As grown women we have to work hard to remind ourselves that what our culture is telling us is beautiful is fake.
Now imagine being a teenage girl without the years of experience and self-understanding. If you don’t have a strong foundation of self-worth, respect, courage, compassion, intelligence, and confidence…you don’t stand a chance against today’s culture. When raising a daughter, you absolutely must must must give her every tool and weapon you can to help them stand in the mirror and see beauty.
Remember, this is my blog. You may not agree with the tools that I list. But, that’s okay :)
Tools for Beauty:
1. Good friends that are healthy and strong.
It’s isn’t right to discourage friends that can be shallow, have self-image problems, and don’t value intelligence over beauty. But…it is good for your daughter to have a core group of friends around her that value her (and themselves) for traits other than appearance. Encourage friendships that value skill, and intelligence, and personality. Those will help her see beauty in herself beyond appearance.
2. Reduce the media presence.
This sounds a bit ridiculous. But, it really isn’t a good idea for your daughter to spend a lot of time pouring over magazines, MTV, and other media outlets. Come-on…if that’s what she reads and looks at all the time, of course she’s going to want to try to emulate it! And she will fail. Good job mom, set her up for failure!! No seriously, reduce the exposure. I’m not talking cut her off. Just reduce.
3. Give them a way to try…in a good way.
When Katie was 13-years-old she wanted to wear make-up. Many of her friends had started a few years before, and I had made her wait. At 13, I took her to the Clinique counter and got tinted moisturizer. Then we headed to Estee Lauder and got liquid eyeliner. Of course, she tried it on there, and I made sure she saw the price (holy cow!). And we went and got the good ol’ trusty Great Lash Mascara in soft brown. I took her home and taught her how to make a fierce cat eye (the 13-year-old version, of course :)), take off her make-up, and use mascara. I told her that as long as she used make-up that I approved of and was appropriate for her…I would pay for it (remember I showed her the high price). She still to this day wears a version of that same look (see photo below). As she has gotten older, I have expanded and allowed a bit more make-up.
In much the same way, as Katie has grown I have taken every opportunity to teach her about her body shape. I have pointed out that some outfits that look great on her friends are because of their different shape…not because she is ugly. And, she has learned many looks that look fantastic on her because of how she is built. I also try to take her to stores that I know will have a good fit from the start. Trying on brand names that don’t often fit well is just a recipe for disaster. Stick with what works.even if you have to pay a bit more and have one less item.
11. “He (God) has a plan and a purpose for them, and there may be experiences they have to go through in order to become the woman He has designed them to be.” Hello…YES!! They are just starting, just learning…give them room to learn and grow.
12. “Let them know that it is your job to be a parent, not a friend.” Did we talk about this already? We did. Never matter…it’s important!!! Be a parent.
13. “Don’t let her out of the house. No really, listen to her. Get to know who she is, and tell her that you love her.” I like the first part :). I say let’s go with that plan.
14. “I want my daughter to “pass judgement” on someone who does drugs or steals, etc. and say “I don’t want to be a part of that. Not because she’s better than them, but because she deserves better. She needs to respect herself first.” Did you catch that?? Respect herself. She deserves better. Teach your daughter that they are worth love and respect.
15. “Remember you are not their age, then remember what it was like to be their age.” Oh wise one. Come on…don’t try to tell me that you can’t kinda remember that being a teenage girl was strange/hard/horrible/
And here are some pieces of advice from my own daughter (just for the record I do NONE of these :)) …
Don’t embarrass your daughter in the following ways: don’t yell at her in public, do not comment about boys, don’t compare your daughter to other people, don’t act like a teenager, don’t gossip about other people, don’t wear the same clothes as your daughter or her friends, don’t try too hard to relive your past, don’t try to be friends with your daughter’s friends, don’t be a helicopter mom, don’t let them have stuff in their teeth or other public embarrassment issues, don’t try to relive your childhood through your daughter…and don’t forget to say how awesome your mom is!! (okay, I added that last one.)
Just because I can…
To learn more about my daughter Katie…it’s easy. She has posted many times on this blog (along with my son, Levi) and is a regular contributor over at Fox Hollow Cottage. She writes as she talks. What you read is who she is.
The single best post on my blog EVER (in my opinion) comes from my daughter. Please take the time to read it HERE.
And for the record…Miley Cyrus…just so you know, you are lovely. You are perfect. You are loved. Don’t try so hard. You are enough just as you are. Always. My door is open for you (not that you’ll ever see this, or read this. But…just in case :). I got cookies and hugs. Well, half hugs. I don’t do hugs so well. Okay, let’s just stick with cookies. I got cookies!)