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As parents of girls, we want to raise our daughters to grow up and become confident, successful young women. That is not an easy task in a world in which women are harshly judged for their appearance, and smart, ambitious women are viewed with suspicion.

Because of the unique challenges faced by young women, it is so important that we pay special attention to how we raise our girls. We can’t let our daughters grow like weeds, untended, and hope that they turn out OK.  That is a very dangerous gamble.

Instead, when raising girls, we need to do everything that we can to build up their confidence. When they ultimately leave home, we want them to go into the world knowing that they are beautiful, smart and capable.  We want them to be secure enough to withstand the judgment and criticism that they invariably will face on occasion.

If, like me, you are raising a daughter, consider some of the parenting tips below. Our daughters are precious, indeed.  As a result, we need to make every effort to ensure that our girls grow up to be strong, confident and successful young women.

Encourage: You cannot encourage girls enough. Not only do girls have to deal with society’s sometimes antiquated ideas about what girls can and cannot do, but they also have to contend with the media’s very narrow idea of what it means to be attractive.

So, at every opportunity, we need to encourage our girls. We need to regularly tell our daughters that they are smart and beautiful.  We need to tell them that they can do anything that they set their minds to.  And we need to send this message so often that it permeates every fiber of their being.  Only then can our daughters go out into the world with their heads held high, in spite of the negative feedback that they may receive.

Don’t Make Marriage a Goal: Marriage is a lovely institution – when it works. When it doesn’t work, it is a complete nightmare.  A bad marriage can ruin your self-esteem and derail your career.  So, it isn’t something that girls should dream of doing.  Instead, marriage is a choice that a woman can make if she happens to fall in love with someone who is marriage material (meaning the guy is responsible and inclined toward family life).

Marriage should not be a goal that we foist upon our daughters. If we do, they’ll feel obligated to marry the first guy that comes along.  We should convey that success has nothing to do with whether or not you are married.  Rather, it has to do with becoming financially independent, being kind and generous, and serving society in some way.

Help Her Find Her Passion:  The best thing that you can do for your daughter is to help her find an activity that she is passionate about.  Then you need to help her figure out how to translate that activity into a career.

So often, women sell themselves short, professionally. They will choose a career which accommodates their family’s schedule, even if they don’t find that career personally rewarding.  Instead, help your daughter pursue a career that she loves.

With a career that she loves, your daughter will be less likely to enter into a bad marriage in order to feel personally successful. And a good career will provide her with the financial independence and confidence that comes from a job well done.

Helping your daughter find her passion requires you to pay close attention to her. What does she do well?  What activity does she lose track of time while doing?  Look for clues and encourage her.  Then, think of careers that might fit her interests. Encourage her by saying, “You would be a great teacher/scientist/business owner.”  Plant the seeds to inspire your daughter to do something wonderful with her life.

Tell Her to Dream Big: In a well-meaning way, we sometimes can discourage our girls.  We might say things like, “That profession is very hard for women to break into.”  Or, “Very few people make it in that field.”  So what if something is hard?  Your daughter might be the first U.S. President.  She might become a CEO or a professional fisherwoman.  But she will never do anything great if you tell her that what she is trying to do is just too hard.

As the Norman Vincent Peale saying goes, if you let her shoot for the moon, she may miss it, but she’ll land among the stars.

Disourage Catty Behavior: As parents, one of the best things that we can do is to discourage catty, mean behavior in our girls. Girls can be very cruel.  The unkind comments I hear some girls make is shocking to me.  Good parents aggressively nip that behavior in the bud.

I have zero tolerance for meanness, and when I observe it in other people’s children, it speaks volumes to me about the parents. In fact, you often will see mean behavior run in families.  Invariably, the parents will chock it up to “sibling banter.”  What it is, is bad manners and poor ethics training.

Girls need to be taught at home to be supportive and encouraging toward others. Kindness is the quality that should be promoted above all.  And the bitchiness that too often can be part of girls’ behavior should be swiftly shut down.

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Raising girls is an awesome responsibility. The challenges faced by parents who want to raise successful, decent young ladies are many.  However, if you work hard, your reward will be a daughter who is smart, successful and a blessing in this world.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

My new book, The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother, is now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats.  If you purchase a copy, consider writing a review.  I would be delighted to hear your feedback!

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