Lucky for me, my mom was a mixture of soft nurturing love and tough fiery independence. She taught me that she was my mother first and my friend second. I thank her for setting that boundary from day one because it helped shape the way I parent my own children. Being a friend is easy, but being a mom is a whole different ballgame.
As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” My mom did just that for me and my sisters. Despite growing up in a patriarchal family and society, where she was raised to be seen and not heard, she showed us that we could do and be whatever we want.
My mom believed reading and education were the keys to freedom and independence, and that’s what she instilled in me. So, because of her, I had the tools to help my daughters forge their own paths in life.
I am by no means a perfect mom, but I’ve had many people ask me how I raised such independent and fearless young women, who are also kind and good people.
So to celebrate International Women’s Day, I’ve listed below what I think are the top five MUSTS in raising daughters:
1 – Love them unconditionally. I think that goes without saying, but that entails so much. They need to FEEL that, no matter what, you will always love and accept them. This includes lot of hugs and nurturing. My college-aged girls still cuddle with me, and I still cuddle with my 84-year old mom.
2 – Keep the lines of communication OPEN. This means, don’t gasp when they tell you something shocking. Don’t roll your eyes or yell at them when they say something you may not agree with. All that will do is create a barrier, and they will shut themselves off because they’ll be afraid of you judging them.
3 – Use car time for talking. Use mealtime for talking. Go in their room, plop on their bed, and TALK. Don’t allow technology to get in the way of REAL communication.
4 – SHOW them that food is not the enemy. Teach your girls that food is fuel. It makes our bodies healthy, and it’s important to properly fuel our bodies for optimum health. Exercise with them, indulge in treats with them, and show them that food is a pleasure.
5 – Don’t talk negatively about yourself. This type of negative self-talk makes a huge impression on little girls who look at you as if you were a perfect Disney princess. Lead by example – be POSITIVE, read, learn, listen, show empathy and kindness.
Encourage your girls that they are smart enough and strong enough to do whatever their hearts desire!