RAISING CONFIDENT DAUGHTERS
I am a child of the ‘80s and ’90s. I was a big-haired, hot-pink, tapestry-wearing Punky Brewster wannabe trying to look like I belonged in Beverly Hills 90210. It was glorious. Other children of the ‘80s hear me.
But, if the TV was off and the magazines put away, I had no other connection to the world. Even through my limited outlets to the world, I still got the message beauty was of the utmost importance and being thin was money in the hand. Then the Internet happened, and now that message is even louder.
As moms, we try to send a message of “dearest daughter, love yourself and be confident. Having a beautiful spirit is more important than a beautiful face.” And yet we feel best when we post our weight loss and healthy food on Facebook. Now, before you get upset with me, hear me out. If we are going to post our beauty/health regimes on Facebook, then we must also teach our girls how to understand that, while beauty and a healthy body are important to us, it is not where our worth comes from.
In my quest to understand why some girls grow into women who devalue themselves, I have made some observations that can be helpful. One of those, and perhaps one of the biggest, is the comparison game social media baits us to play. Simply put, when we compare ourselves to others, we devalue ourselves. Comparison to another is usually followed by a type of shame — “I am not thin like she is” or “I wish I was as pretty/fit/smart/rich/lucky in love/whatever it is as she is” — and that is a dangerous game.
We, as adults, are supposed to know how to handle this emotional hijacking (supposedly), but what about our girls? Do they know what to do when they feel their worth is being hijacked? When they feel they are failing to live up to an unattainable idea of beauty, do they know how to put things in perspective?
How do we teach our girls their worth extends beyond superficial beauty when they have an instant connection to a false world glued to their hands? What do we do when our daughter comes to us and wants to order a lip plumper to look more like a Kardashian, cries that her Snapchat was made fun of, wants to crash diet, or tells us she didn’t make the dance team because of her looks (true story)? I have some ideas.
- Have them put the phone down. Then, seriously, moms, you put the phone down, too. We will survive and learn that life goes on even if we aren’t connected to a screen.
- While the phones are down, spend time with her. You don’t have to do anything earth-shattering; just let her know you enjoy her company. Play a game, read, cook, sit outside, try a new hobby, take a drive.
- Help her serve others. A teenage girl with a desire to serve others will put superficial beauty in its place. Serving others awakens a deeper knowledge and understanding of how precious and meaningful life can be.
- And, when the phone is in her hand, introduce critical-thinking skills to your girl. Teach her to evaluate her thoughts and think her way out of doubt. Both are valuable tools.
- Finally, tell her every day she is worthy by simply being alive. Our worth is given to us the moment we are created. She already has worth and it never can be taken away.
And, blessed moms, you must practice these things as well. If you do not do them, your daughter will see right through it. You have worth; celebrate it! And your girl will learn to celebrate herself, too.
Learn more about our Confident Box and how it can help your daughter grow into a positive, self-assured young woman.