Daughters, our girls, are the keys to life and we should hold them in the esteem they deserve. Yes, girls grow to be ladies, women, but more than that, they grow to be people-humans. The same persons they are from birth, we must nurture that individual until she discovers who she is meant to be. It’s her choice, but it is also a parent’s duty and responsibility to ensure that she grows up in atmospheres of opportunity not problems. Then, when problems arise, daughters will have the wherewithal to face and resolve them to positive outcomes. From day one, the most important and influential words you will speak to your daughter are:
“I LOVE YOU!”
As girls will melt the heart, the heart of your girls[and boys] also melt. They will feel your love and understand how powerful that emotion is…even before they understand what the words mean.She’ll know instinctively!
Tell her you love her every day, multiple times each day.
Show her your love as only you can.
Don’t smother her, just love, guide and protect her.
When she learns to speak your native tongue or your preferred home language, teach these words to her. It is guaranteed that, when you hear her say them, especially unprompted and at unexpected times, your heart will melt all over again.Don’t let her be afraid to use those words. Encourage her to use them appropriately, authentically.
“Beauty is what you feel about yourself, not what you see in the mirror. Love the skin you’re in!”
Images of beauty are as diverse as we each are. The beauty of the world is the diversity that we each represent. We come in different hues and skin tones, different body types, shapes and sizes. Teach her that because she doesn’t look like some people who refuse to see or treasure her beauty, it doesn’t really matter. She has beauty, is beauty, and exudes beauty.
There was a time when black people, to affirm themselves, displayed posters which said,” Black is Beautiful”. It was true then and remains true. Everyone, even though we look or define beauty differently, each still has an innate beauty. Wear yours like a badge of honor. Teach your girls to love the skin they’re in, and respect the beauty of others, too. In fact, expect beauty to be within everyone as well. We each deserve respect, because acceptance is very personal.
“You were born with dignity and nobody can neither give nor take that away from you.”
Don’t let anyone ever think that they are or have taken away your dignity.
It belongs to you.
You have the right to defend it.
Teach this. Tell them, and make them believe it at all times. Only they can undercut their dignity, and that is a no-no.
“I value your opinion.”
Tell them that they do have brains, intelligence and the gift of independent thought. Let them know and understand that their opinions are valuable. You value them. Also, let them know that although you may not always agree with them, you value them still. Opinions are like a..holes and elbows, most people have at least one. Well, you may not want to convey the message in those exact words, but you get the picture. Nurture them to be independent thinkers in life. That’s called originality, authenticity, and when they become bold enough to voice their opinions to others, teach them tactfulness.
“Yes you can!”
Teach your daughters to believe in their own power and growth potential. Live without limits. Don’t limit the possibilities. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, just because….
…you’re a girl.
….you’re too short.
…you’re too big, curvy, heavy.
Yes, you can!
Teach girls to believe that hard work and determination open many doors considered closed to girls, African-Americans, Latinx, etc…
“If you think you can, you can….” Teach girls the value of hard work, determination and perseverance. The sky’s the limit. You want them to grow to be mavericks. Tell them, ‘yes you can!’
“Nobody can be you, but you’. Be the best you you can!”
Teach your girls that there are many different people whom they may admire and wish to emulate, but when the sun rises and sets on each new day, they are themselves, individual, unique and loved people. The me that they are must be treasured and adored by them, not necessarily the yous of the outside world. Teach them to accept themselves, help them identify their gifts and talents, and though similar to everyone else, they are unique. Help them to identify and appreciate their positive traits. Give them daily affirmations if need be. Self-talk. By the time she reaches school age, she will socialize with her peers. Schools, even when considered safe environments cannot provide the safety that you can…emotionally.
Children begin from a point of honesty and then ‘try out’ roles others have played- like being insulting. At one point in time, your daughter will hear from a schoolmate,’you’re dumb, stupid, ugly, fat, etc…’ Hopefully, you have cultivated a relationship with her that invites open communication. When she tells you what happened, avoid telling her that, ‘they are stupid’ type retorts, affirm her, point out her positive traits and you may wish to say, ” They may simply fail to see the strengths you possess. Let’s count them.” If she feels the need to respond to such statements, she may want to say to them, ” I am the me that you can’t be, and that is just perfect.” or ” I am me, you are you. I love the me that I am. You just can’t see what I see now, but one day, your words will haunt you.” That will confound the biggest bully in the group without the use of violence. Self-love is the best kind, so teach her to love who she is, embrace it and shine with confidence. She is loved.
“Read! Read! Read!”
There is an incredible joy in reading, and the earlier you start, the better the readiness. The better the academic success and greater achievement. Begin reading to your child until your child begins reading to you. Then, read with your daughter. Children who are early readers gain so much from their acquired knowledge and vicarious experiences, along with an expanded vocabulary. Emotional literacy, interpersonal skills and self-love can be nurtured in books. A parent’s role in the process is irreplaceable, but encourage books and reading. Read and read often. Make it a habit, a ritual and a routine. Who knows, your daughter may grow up to be a writer or published author, or at the least, an avid reader.
“Don’t be afraid to be smart!”
The age of the ‘dumb blonde’ are over. Girls don’t have to take a back seat to anyone in order to feel accepted. Once they accept themselves, the rest is history-irrelevant.Girls can be smart, intelligent and be the smartest person in the room. Let your girls know that if they are the smartest in one room, it doesn’t mean that they will have all of the answers in the next room. The aim is not to be the smartest, just that it’s ok to be smart. Teach them the virtues of being smart, thinking and acting smart. Sometimes smart is no match for intelligence. Teach them to be cultivate their intelligence, do their best and work hard at being their best. We want our daughters to be unafraid or unashamed of their intelligence. Girls should aim for the top and one day, your daughters may shatter the glass ceilings of the world.
” I believe in you.”
It isn’t always gonna be easy in life, nor is it guaranteed to go as planned. Women are challenged everyday to do twice as much as men, and many times, we are not appropriately appreciated or compensated for the work we do perform. Girls are discouraged from engaging in activities traditionally thought of as male. Girls’ pathways can be blocked, derailed from realizing their potential and sadly the narrow-minded nay-sayers. We mustn’t deny or waste true talent. Don’t confine your daughter to politically-correct roles. If she likes to play with trucks and blocks, so be it. If she loves football, so be it. Don’t discourage her, but instead support her passions. Temper her brave choices by informing her and arming her with the strengths and tools to withstand the controversy, if there is ever any. Just believe in her. Do you know how many women have said in their adult years, how much they wish that someone had supported her choices. You want a no-limit soldier, a trooper, a strong, self assured, and compassionate girl, and you want her to transition into adulthood the same…authentically herself.
Believe in her potential, and believe in her passions. Tell her she has your support, always has your unconditional love and acceptance, but she must accept your guidance not control. The only control that enters your parent-child relationship is self-control. We guide, and she learns self-control while developing self-awareness and self-esteem. Encourage your daughter, even when the world says no. If she wants something badly enough, teach her to acquire the skills to achieve it. Just be there when, not if she fails, because it takes many failures to arrive at success. Support her nonetheless. In fact, it is usually the times of failures and mistakes when she will need you more. When boys fall down, we tell them to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and try again. Why not girls? If she decides to be an Engineer and there are no female engineers in your area, don’t let that stop her. Maybe one day she will become the first.
“You are strong.”
We all are challenged by disappointments, discouraging circumstances and unsupportive people or just people who may aim to shut us down, slow us down and prevent us from growing, learning, achieving success and being our best. There will be people who don’t want to see us being happy or successful.Tell your daughters that challenges will arise and they will be called to make decisions. Teach them that the choices they make always influence and impact each following choice. Well thought out decisions will always be the best decisions. Teach them to understand cause and effect, choices and consequences and to distinguish immediate gratification from long term impact. Speaking of impact-teach them that there may be differences between intent and impact. It’s all related, but so often confused.
Teach them to be independent thinkers, not followers of the crowd, because the crowd does not always make the best choices or the right choices for her. If a crowd is involved, let her be the leader, the thinker. Tell her that it is always ok to say ‘no’, especially when her personal space is being invaded or she feels it’s about to be violated. She is strong and her strength requires that she must value her body, her virtue, and her personal space must remain personal-reserved for when she is mature and fully prepared to transition into the Queen that she was meant to be. [I could tell you what my grandmother’s choice of words were, but for now,…Enough said?!!
These are but a few of the things to tell your daughters. As she grows, her life will change. Her self-perception and perspectives will begin to change rather rapidly. Don’t parent a 10 year old the way you parented her when she was 4. Parents must keep up, adjust focus and continue parenting accordingly…WITH LOVE.