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Draw Healthy Boundaries for Your Daughter

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In this fourth of five articles on tips for raising self-confident girls in a post-feminist age, the thought of the day is: DRAWING THE LINE.

mother and daughter talking

Dr. Wendy Walsh: Girls are a unique breed. We are social butterflies, often define ourselves by our relationships, and sometimes need plenty of alone time to process the world and our place in it. So first off, remember to give your girl space and privacy. We all need some privacy to develop as an individual. It is up to you as a mother to find that delicate balance between over-mothering and neglectful parenting. Too much intrusion will not help her think and behave independently. We only need to be a "good enough" mother -- except on the big stuff. Allowing her to spread her wings sometimes is crucial to healthy development.

This was the holiday season that I allowed my nearly 12-year-old daughter to wander in a mall for an hour. Of course, I was nearby with a cell phone strapped on, but she really wanted some privacy to buy me a Christmas present. So, who was I to argue, even though I had to endure an hour of worry? This was also the first time that my two kids flew as unaccompanied minors. Now THAT was stressful, but it went a long way to building self-confidence in my kids.

But having said that, I must also remind you to erect strong boundaries on the big stuff. Make a clear list of expectations for your daughter's behavior. If it is unhealthy, dangerous, or emotionally hurtful, draw a huge line and communicate it. For instance, at my house, I don't care what time the birthday party ends, I still pick her up at a reasonable hour. Then come up with logical consequences that you are prepared to enforce. Believe it or not, even a teenager screaming "I HATE YOU!" is secretly happy that you are protecting her. Boundaries help her feel safe.

Finally, foster healthy peer relationships. Women are wives, mothers, sisters, and girlfriends before we are professionals. When kids are young, I like to joke that they choose our friends for us. I've sat through coffee with more than one mother who I had not a thing in common with, except the most important thing: our daughter's friendship. Later, as girls hit middle school, parents begin to take a backseat in their kids' social life and become glorified drivers. This is the crucial time to stay in touch, meet the families, and exert clear direction in your child's social life. At a certain point, around age 13 or 14, some parenting experts believe the ONLY influence a parent can have over a child is to choose their peers. Yep, if your child is in crisis, that may mean moving.

next: Fast Track Your Way to Skinny Jeans
4 comments so far | Post a comment now
Maya February 9, 2010, 10:36 AM

Very nice, a lot to think about…

Stephanie February 17, 2010, 6:36 PM

“Women are wives, mothers, sisters, and girlfriends before we are professionals.”
You’re kidding me, right? Who are you to be talking about raising confident, capable adult daughters? Go back to Stepford.

Kate February 28, 2010, 5:51 PM

I was completely agreeing with up until the part about women being “wives, mothers, and sisters, before professionals”.

mockingjay ebook March 15, 2011, 9:22 AM

I really enjoyed this post. Its always nice when you find something that is not only informative but entertaining. Greet! %WEBSITE%

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