To Empower. That’s such a strong sentiment, isn’t it? To empower someone is not just to make them feel good about themselves, it’s to create a level of self-confidence in them, it’s for them to be positive and uplifting in terms of viewing themselves. To empower your daughter is to create a foundation for their personality to develop on as they continue on in life. It’s to teach her that life can get difficult, and when it does — because it will — how she can continue to move on and move up without life bringing her down.
That all sounds very idealistic, you say, but how do you empower your daughter, exactly? It can be difficult to navigate the upbringing of any child, let alone your daughter? How do you teach her the balance it takes to be a woman in our society now? But that’s the thing you see, you can’t teach your daughter everything there is to know about how life will be for her, but you can teach her how she can be true to herself and therefore confident in herself, so that it’s not easy to push her down.
1. Encourage her to voice her opinions.
Don’t let your daughter shy away from her opinions. If she feels strongly about anything, be it something as simple her favourite colour or something as intricate as feminism, encourage her to talk about it rather than shut it down.
Moreover, depending on her age, expose her to the media and news. Don’t shelter her from the “bad stuff”, but rather expose it to her and explain what’s going on; teach her to be a critical observer and thinker, to understand what’s going on and to question what she thinks is wrong or right. Let her mould a perspective on issues and happenings, and guide her along as you do. Sheltering her will do little to no good. Tell her, and emphasise again and again, that there is no such thing as too smart or too direct. Remind her repeatedly that she is not too much, as many would try to make her believe.
2. Be her cheerleader.
Cheer your daughter on! Be it a bad grade or a good one, a sports accomplishment or a piano certificate, let her know that you’re there for her. Teenage girls tend to have higher stress levels than boys, and they can often feel like they’re alone. Don’t let them. Remind them that you’re there for them and give them space. Invading their space — especially at a crucial stage like teenage years — only pushes them away. Give them space but remind them of your support and love for them. This makes them independent but strong; they know that they can rely on you and call on you for help when they need to, but it also allows them to have an autonomous decision- making capabilities.
3. Expose her to female role models.
We live in a time where we are lucky to have way more female role models available in popular culture and media than we did just 50 years ago. There are so many female role models to show your daughter from a variety of backgrounds; she has the capability to be exposed to so many real-life superwomen, from humanitarians like Michelle Obama to volleyball champions like Huo Ruoqi.
Instead of the subconscious conditioning by seeing only male role-models in media and thinking that there are industries for only males, encourage your daughter to look beyond such structures and to strive for whatever she feels calls for her. There are numerous women who have made a positive impact in the world, and by showing them to her, you show her that she has the potential to do the same, or beyond, even.
4. Instil money skills.
One way to empower your daughter and get her ready for the future is to introduce her to money, and savings early on. You can start with weekly allowances and encouraging saving for any additional toys or goodies she may want. Have open communication about your spending and saving habits, and teach her the good and bad of spending and saving! This allows her to grow up financially smart while having a conscious mindset about money, which is never a bad thing.
5. Teach her to have fun!
Something I believe is very important is to teach your daughter to have fun and be lighthearted! Many daughters grow up too conscious of themselves and are afraid to dream or be brave. By the time they’ve gathered the courage, significant years have passed and they’re only starting to relearn their behaviour. Thus, teach her to let go of worries about her consequences (unless the activity in a discussion is morally wrong) and appearances, and what others might think, and be herself instead. Let her grow to be confident in her actions and to grow into the woman she’s meant to be.
Your daughter, like any other child, is one-of-a-kind. Many kids forget that growing up into teenagers and adults, but all it takes is consistent communication and encouragement to remind them that they have something in them. Your daughter is the same, and she has her own unique quality to bring to this world, all you have to do is teach her how to coax it out of her.