Being a woman is a hard, yet beautiful thing. Here are 5 lessons I think that all moms should pass on to their daughters.
Know Who You Are
One thing that I believe is 100% true is that people who know who they are better equipped to handle the curve balls life throws at us much better than people who lack a strong sense of self. People who know who they know what they like and what they dislike. They know their strengths and their weaknesses. They know what they want in life and what they are unwilling to tolerate. They know the type of people that bring out the best in them and the ones who they should avoid.
While this may seem like an abstract thing, there are some very concrete ways to do it. For example, you could sit them down with a pencil and paper and have them answer questions like:
What traits do you value in yourself and others?
What makes you feel happy?
What are your biggest pet peeves?
What do you want to be known in your community for?
Love Who You Are
Another important lesson is to love yourself as you are – flaws and all. This isn’t to say that you can’t want to improve or grow. I believe that we should all strive to become better versions ourselves. However, we should all have a level of self-love that allows us to be confident that we are powerful, beautiful, full of potential, and worthy of respect. If you know and believe these things, there isn’t much that can break you down. A great way to help your daughter develop self-love is to have her write down all of her positive traits. You can help her get started by telling her all of the reasons you think she is an amazing human being. You can also take every opportunity available to remind her of her awesomeness.
Be True to Who You Are
As we navigate through life, it can be so easy to compromise who we are and what we want – especially where it concerns other people I know that I have made the mistake of doing things I didn’t really want to do in order to fit in, please others, or make a relationship work. It never ends well, though, does it? We need to teach our daughters that it’s ok to be different, to want different things, and that it I possible to find people who will accept us as we are. One way to teach them this is to promote tolerance and acceptance of others. If we are willing to accept others for who and how they are, it serves as the best example that others can accept US as we are. Remind your daughters at every opportunity that true happiness can be found when you stay true to who you are and what you want. It’s not always easy, but it is worth it. Let them know that if they ever struggle with this, you are there to help them.
Believe People When They Show You Who They Are
I don’t know about you, but I know several women who struggle with this one. Many of us have a tendency to want to see the best in people – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Being able to see the good in people (and in situations) can be an admirable quality – but not if it means ignoring the negative things that can have a big impact on your life. That’s why I think it is important to teach our daughters how to be positive, but also be realistic. If someone reveals something about themselves that is not positive (whether through their words or their actions), teach your daughters to assume that that is how they really are (rather than trying to justify or explain their behavior). Then encourage them to behave accordingly. I think that this skill (I call it a skill because it doesn’t come naturally to everyone) could save people a lot of stress and time spent dealing with toxic people and situations.
Never Settle for Less
Teach your daughters to always go for exactly what they want. It is so easy to settle for “good enough”. But if you look at your “good enough” and find yourself wanting more, there is absolutely nothing wrong with working towards something bigger and better. It doesn’t make you selfish, ungrateful, high maintenance, needy, greedy, self-entitled, bossy, difficult, demanding, a diva, full of yourself, or any of the other negative terms you get thrown around. It simply makes you someone who is committed to having a full life and that is not something to be ashamed of.
Self-Care Is Not Optional
This is a big one and is one that women seem to forget as we get older (especially when we become moms and wives). Self-care is not something that you should only do when you have the spare time. It is something you should make time for on a regular basis. It includes things like exercise and eating healthy, but also includes doing things for emotional health, such as having a hobby, meditating, journaling, and having an active social life. Teach your daughters that engaging in self-care activities on a regular basis is not being selfish – it’s being healthy. Teach them while they are young so that they will not forget when they are older (because that is when we REALLY need it).
You Don’t Have to Be Superwoman
I think it is also important to teach our daughters that we don’t have to be “Superwoman’. As women, we have a tendency to want to handle ‘all the things’. To be everything to everyone. To do everything on our own. Teach your daughters that it is ok to have items left unchecked on their daily to-do list and that it is 100% ok (and smart) to delegate. Trying to be Superwoman is more likely to end with stress than happiness.
Speak Up and Speak Out
So often, girls and women shrink into ourselves around others. We allow others to speak over us or to speak for us. We stay quiet on things that bother us because we don’t want to make a fuss. Teach your daughters to use their voices and to use them well. Speak up for yourself. Speak out against things that weigh on your spirit and mind. Be assertive, regardless of who you are speaking to. Never let someone intimidate you into being quiet when you have something to say.
No Means No
I know that it can be scary to have this talk with our daughters, but it is an important one. Teach them that their bodies are theirs and that no one has the right to do with it anything that your daughter does not want them to do. Teach them that it is THEIR right to say yes or no and that they should never be made to feel ashamed or wrong for whatever that decision is. Also teach them to use their voice to speak up if someone violates their right to say no and who they should speak to about it (the appropriate authorities, you, a friend, etc).
Female Relationships are Important
I know a lot of women who say that they only hang out with men because “men are less complicated”, “women are too complex”, or “women are too dramatic/catty”. Personally, I think that it is sad that so many of us feel this way. Although, I will admit that I have had relationships with other women that didn’t turn out so great, I feel like that applies just as much to relationships with men. I’ve also had high-quality, enriching relationships with other women that I value a great deal. These relationships have helped me to grow into a better person. They have provided me with countless hours of laughter and joy. These women have been there for me during the highs and the lows, providing me with listening ears, words of encouragement, and sometimes words of tough love that I really needed. Teach your daughters that friendships with other women can be deep, meaningful, and important.