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Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself

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While our girls are not confined to housewife-dom anymore, navigating gender issues in our world can be more challenging than ever. Here are some tips to help our daughters.

Mom and daughter talking

Dr. Wendy Walsh: In this day and age, girls may have more freedom to pursue their dreams, but they also have more confusion. The working world they will enter is still not a place where feminine energy is rewarded, and the messages that women are being sent about sexual freedom may be setting them back. Because men and women are not equal, they are different, not one gender more powerful than the other. They may have many similar skills, but their reward system is very different. Women value relationships, and men value competition and power. So how do we help our girls "find themselves" as women in a world with so many choices and so few road maps?

This is the first of five blogs that aim to give moms a few clues, and the word of the day is RESPECT.

Respect her body from the get-go. Our daughters won't be able to respect their own bodies if we are intrusive. And this respect starts with the diaper change. When you change your infant's diaper, give verbal explanations for what you are doing, even if you think they can't understand. (Babies understand most of their mother tongue long before they ever have the muscular ability to form words.) Imagine you are a helpless being, captive in the land of giants. How would you like to be touched, cleaned, and bathed? As she grows older, give her privacy and teach her about good touch / bad touch and physical boundaries.

And, model self-respect yourself. We've all heard the adage that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. And Mama, you are the tree from which she will spring. Your actions will have a much greater impact on your daughter than your words. Trust me, soon she won't even hear you because of that darned iPod! So, it is very important that we respect ourselves. That may mean speaking up in defense of yourself or your family, protecting yourself from damaging relationships, or simply living the values that you hope your daughter will live.

How you live is the most important way you parent. Teaching your daughter to not give herself pain by being respectful of yourself can go a long way toward boosting her self-esteem.

Tomorrow: Teaching emotional intelligence along with an academic education.

next: "Bachelor" Mom: I Couldn't Talk About My Kid
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
michelle January 12, 2010, 8:42 AM

Once again you are undermining your own message. “Women value relationships and men value competition and power”? Please tell me this is a joke!!?? You are so blinded by these cliches (which have been discredited by real scientists) that you missed the two biggest factors in helping girls respect their bodies. (1) Encourage your daughter to question, to learn, to think for herself, which teaches her to locate her self-worth in her mind, not her appearance. Note that this may in fact involve some “competition and power” which according to you are male traits. (2) Do not, as a mother, openly discuss your body image issues or diet in front of her. Focus on saying positive things about your own body and her body. Yes, this means you should be open about physical things and, when she’s older, you should frankly discuss sex with her. You like cliches, so here is a better one for you: knowledge is power.

Singles sachsen March 31, 2010, 10:00 AM

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