There are so many mixed messages that women and girls encounter. Add in the responsibility of raising our future generation of girl power babes. We have had such an exciting year of women gaining major political offices across the US and it gets me EXCITED! I want young girls to break out of the gender stereotypes that are so present in our society. I am not a girl mom myself but I enlisted some help of girl moms and thought about the most important lady in my life, my niece Aubree.
So how do we raise a confident and strong girl in a world full of so many mixed messages?
Teach them the importance of being more than a pretty face
There are so many films who have strong female characters that are not based on the idea of “looking pretty.” Movies such as Brave and Moana focus on so much more than being pretty, but on accomplishing HUGE goals and overcoming amazing obstacles.
Know your impact
If you want your nieces and daughters to be confident girls, then they need to be surrounded by amazing role models! Sometimes we forget the huge impact that just our presence can be. Our children look up to us and look for role models that they can aspire to be like in the women around them. Peer pressure will sway our children, but not as much as a strong female role model will. When you glance in the mirror and make a self deprecating comment about your weight or looks – remember that there may be a little girl listening and watching.
Look for alternative forms of praise
How often do you tell a young girl or even another adult female “You look so pretty!” “I love your dress!” before you tell them how kind they are, how driven they are, how dedicated they are, how much you appreciate them etc. Teach those little girls in your life that they are so much more than the way they look and the things they wear. Throw out things like “You worked hard! You are so brave. You are capable of anything!” just as fast as you would throw out a “I love your pink nails!” the next time you want to make a compliment.
Encourage them with these phrases often while they are young, so they won’t forget them when they’re older.
Show an interest in their interests
One of the best things you can do for a girl your life is to show her that you are interested in the things she’s interested in. If she loves soccer, then support her by going to a few soccer games. If she wants to know more about space and astronomy, then take her to a planetarium to learn more. By showing an interest in what she’s interested in, you will inspire her to pursue the things she’s passionate about. Don’t shoot down ideas by saying “That is for boys.”
Community over competition
Teach the girl in your life that celebrating the wins of those females around them is important. Show her that celebration of others successes is important. That as women we need tribes of people lifting us up, not tearing us down. Start this early and instill the value of encouraging other females to crush their goals too.
Young girls can be extremely impressionable, but it’s our duty to help show them the right path. In a world of Cinderellas, show them how to be a Merida. Make sure you tell them that not only can they run as fast or faster than any male counterpart.
To the little lady in my life, my niece – I hope you know you can do ANYTHING. You are smart, kind, and amazing. I have been honored to watch you grow and flourish. I will be here encouraging you to shoot for the stars and watching you take on the world. I love you!
What lessons or values did women instill in you as a young girl to encourage girl power? What do you do for the girls in your life?
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