Raising girls in the 21st century is far from easy. Our daughters have much to grapple with. Social media can reel them in and hook ‘em—offering highlights of person’s life, not the quiet or dark moments.
Daughters need parents who are willing to talk, share their time, and brave enough to share their own mishaps. Are you ready to cultivate a friendship with your precious daughter?
- Walk Around. Be it a few laps around the local mall or a brisk walk around your neighborhood. Spend time enjoying the outdoors. It’s a great way to break the ice for parents who may have had tense episodes with tweens or teens; a fresh perspective beyond the four walls of their domicile means that they are more apt to release stress and release pent-up fears or worries.
- Listen to the Subtext. Our daughters have a lot to say. Listen for underlying clues to what they really mean. Are they struggling with a friend? “I hate my life!” may really only mean: Mom & Dad, I’m super-bored and simply need a tight hug. Are their signs of melancholy? Pay attention to signs of dangerous emotions that need prayer and a professional and caring counselor.
- Like Yourself. Our daughters are listening to everything that comes out of our mouths. If you’re complaining about your hips and thighs or breast size, they will too! Love and accept your body for what it is. They’ll be more accepting of who they are becoming as well. An emotionally-healthy and flourishing daughter can stake her claim on life, love, and laughter when her own mom loves and accepts herself.
- Praise Them. Sincerely compliment your daughter on something she did well. Is she a great artist? Can she keep a super-organized room? Did she stand up for a friend in the midst of a tense conversation in her school’s hallway? Commend what she does well!
- Gaze Her Way. My two-year-old nephew recently scolded my brother. “Look at me, Daddy! I’m talking.” Making eye contact affirms who and what your daughter is. Your girls need to know that Mom and Dad see them and that they love who they are, regardless of past mistakes or heated arguments.
- Banish Comparisons. Remind your daughter that to she is wonderfully-made. Her hair color and texture. Her golden, mahogany or stark white skin tone. What matters is that she feels comfortable in her skin. Let her know that what she’s made of rocks! She’s all kinds of awesome and comparing herself to a pop-star’s photo-shopped image is not worth it.
- Cuddle Close. My high school junior has no problem coming into my bedroom for cuddle time. She laid down across my legs and got a mini-massage from Mom. Healthy touch from Mom or Dad communicated a silent I-love-you; it calms frazzled nerves–the hormone oxytocin is released in the brain—and conveys the importance of family.
- Plan a Getaway. Put a much-needed trip on plastic or save for a weekend trip. Explore a culture, language, or museum in a new state or country. A change of scenery forms lasting memories and provides a great opportunity for family. Practicing wanderlust allows for stronger cross-cultural communication skills and empathy for people of varied countries.
- Say No to Gossip! Grow young women of integrity. If you are prone to gossip than you will most likely taint your daughter with this negative character trait. It is better to teach your child to communicate effectively over a difficult matter with the offender than to teach them to harbor resentment on account of difficult peer relationships.
- Affirm Her Abilities. Look your daughter in the eyes and tell her that you believe in her. That you know she can achieve whatever she sets her mind to. Tell her that you are praying for her success in the things that matter to her. Remind her of how far she’s come, that her progress in a weak area of life—academic, social, emotional—is an indicator that she is evolving into a young woman of destiny. A young woman shaped by love, respect, and healthy affirmations.
How have you grown loving daughters? How do you cultivate their souls?