Child and Family Coaching‘s Brandi Davis shares her thoughts on raising strong women.
We all want our little ladies to be strong, confident, powerful and independent, but how do we pass this on? How do we give our girls what many of us still do not have in abundance? How do we make them feel that they can conquer the world but also install in them that they can do so with kindness, teamwork, and respect? How to we teach them to be powerful, but not at the expense of making others feel powerless?
Nix The Negatives
“I look so fat in this dress. I have nothing to wear.”
“I read your new blog it was great.” “Oh, thanks but it was nothing.”
“I tried something new at work today. They probably won’t like it but whatever.”
Women tend to downplay accomplishments, refute complements, and are very hard on our own appearance. Doing this to ourselves is bad enough but what we may not notice is that tiny eyes are watching, and tiny ears are listening. They ingest every negative remark, deflection of kindness, and downplaying of our awesomeness. They get their social cues from us and unfortunately, even unwittingly, we are teaching them bad habits. We are handing them the insecurities that we would do anything to get rid of. Instead, let’s teach our ladies how to take a complement with a simple Thank you, or That means a lot. Let’s teach our girls that it is FINE to be proud. I had a really great idea today at work. I can’t wait to hear what my boss says about it.
Of course you can not love the way you look in every outfit, and maybe you do think that you look fuller than you would wish, but keep that to yourself. Maybe your presentation didn’t go as planned; you can talk about what you learned and how things can be different next time. Perfection is not the goal: being more in tune to the messages that we are sending is.
Promote Problem Solving
There are so many stories about a prince swooping in to help a damsel in distress. So many movies where the men save the day. This is so insidious that girls can begin to believe that it’s someone else job to fix their lives. Grown ups tell boys to buck up and move on, yet they coddle or jump in and fix the problems of young girls. We need to teach our little ladies-to-be how to deal with everything life throws at them. Sure they can be sad, frustrated, mad. They can cry, but then focus on the next step. A block building keeps falling down? Ask them why? Ask what they can do to make it stronger. They can’t put a shoe on? Mentor instead of doing. Teach her that yes, things can be hard work but in the end the struggle is worth it. Homework getting your child down? Help them find a good resource where they can get tips or additional skills.
When girls know that they can solve a problem or find a good resource to help them do so, they are empowered and that is a gift that will last them a lifetime. So when your child can’t find their shoes, is struggling with a math problem, or having a hard time with a friend, show them you believe in them. See how far they can get in figuring out a solution. Ask questions to get them started and see how strong and confident they become.
Let Them Talk
Let’s be honest, our kids can throw a bit of attitude, snark and sometimes lots of venom your way as they grow and discover who they are and how to get their needs met. While we don’t want them to be bitchy, we DO want them to be powerful and speak their minds. Keep the spirit, lose the snark. Start by giving her the tone that you would like to hear. Teach her how to be clear but also calm. “YOU WANT A CLEAN ROOM, WELL YOU CAN CLEAN IT. I DON’T WANT TO. IT’S YOUR HOUSE ANYWAY.” Uhhhh, thanks for expressing, little lady, but those aren’t really the communication skills that we want to send our girls out into the world with. “I do want you to clean your room but it does not have to be this moment. It DOES need to be done today because your grandparents are coming.”
As a parent, “NO”, can be a word that jars us and makes us feel as though we are losing our authority. But, we want our girls to be able to say, “NO”. We want them to say it to activities they do not want to do or to pressures from friends and partners. We want them to say no when they are being asked to take on too much. “NO”, is important, so we don’t need to fear it. But, just because your powerful woman says “NO”, doesn’t mean that things will go her way. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. You need to clear your space at the table, do homework, clean up the toys and go to bed at bedtime. But just allowing for and understanding the “NO”, goes a long way.
Now there is difference between being a strong woman and being irritable and “bossy” (yes, yes, I know – folks want to ban that word, but is really ISN’T a good personality trait to have). Strong women speak their minds clearly and directly. They want to get their point across yet also listen to others. They understand what it is to be a part of a community, family, or team and their place in it as leader, helper, listener and talker. We want to raise quirky, weird, quiet, loud, introverted, extroverted, cautious, adventurers. We want to support who our girls want to be, even if it is far from our own dreams. We want to support who our girls REALLY are – not who we wish them to be – and we want to give them a voice. A voice that will be heard because of its strength, clarity, and thoughtfulness.
Here’s to the strong women of the future!
Brandi Davis, ACC, is a certified Parenting Coach, Parent Educator, and Author of O.K. I’m A Parent Now What? She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and be sure to catch her parenting podcasts on iTunes. The goal of Brandi’s practice is to bring respect, calm communication, teamwork, and FUN into the home or classroom. To discover all that Child and Family Coaching can bring to your family stop by www.childandfamilycoaching.com.