Raising a self-confident daughter in a post-feminism age where choices are great, gender roles are fluid, and sexual messages are damaging is a confusing task for a mother. In this second of five articles on the subject, the key word is EDUCATION.
Dr. Wendy Walsh: Educate your daughter. Period. Studies show the one thing that reduces teenage pregnancy and reduces overall birth rates in developing countries is the education of girls. It works here too. When girls receive a quality education and are valued at home for their academic achievements, miracles of self-esteem occur. Options become wider. Thinking processes become more complex, and peer pressure becomes only one factor in decision-making. And, providing a quality education need not cost you an arm and a leg. There are plenty of excellent public schools that lead to first-rate universities. But it's up to you to do the research and make that education accessible to your daughter, even if it means moving to a better neighborhood.
But her intellectual mind is only half the equation. Anyone who has read Daniel Goleman's groundbreaking books on emotional intelligence knows that even those who are not formally educated can succeed on social smarts alone. Knowing how to understand and communicate feelings is crucial in the business world -- and leads to great powers of empathy, a hot skill in the free market.
To raise a self-confident daughter, you must teach her emotional intelligence. It's the most important lesson a mother can give a child of any gender, and it includes a vocabulary that puts feelings into words. If we can't name our feelings and share them, we are a long way off from being able to process them and use them in a healthful way. And we teach emotional health by modeling it. Having trouble labeling that feeling in your stomach, yourself? Here's my handy dictionary of the most common feelings people express. Next time you tell a story to your daughter, add your emotional experience by saying "I feel," followed by one of these words: Nervous, Happy, Sad, Angry, Disappointed, Hopeful, Ignored, Embarrassed, Envious, Jealous, Lonely, Excited, Surprised, Proud, Scared, Guilty, Aroused, Uncomfortable, Rejected, Loved. Using these "feeling words" in everyday life opens your daughter up to the parallel universe of people's emotional lives.
Tomorrow: How exposure to relationships shapes her capacity to love.
|Dr. Wendy Walsh holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and her area of interest is Attachment Theory, a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory that provides a descriptive and explanatory framework for understanding interpersonal relationships between human beings. As a psychological assistant registered with the California Board of Psychology, Dr. Walsh has treated individuals, couples and families for a variety of mental health concerns including personality disorders, anger management, eating and substance disorders, and depression. Connect with Dr. Walsh on Facebook.|