For this month, we are focusing on empowerment and this week's article is on how to raise teens to become strong women.
We all want our daughters to be strong, confident and fearless but how do we help them achieve these traits? One key aspect to raising strong women is making sure they understand they always have options. If someone feels trapped and believes they don’t have a choice, they’re more willing to do things that they don’t agree with.
Help install morals by telling them over and over again what is right and what is wrong. Let them know that morals always come first and make sure they know you are always there for them. Sometimes situations might occur where your teen needs you, but they’re afraid to ask for help.
For example, let’s say your daughter lied about going to a friend’s house to watch a movie when in reality she went to a party. Once she got to the party, there was a lot of alcohol and drugs going around and she soon regretted her decision. Since she didn’t drive, she couldn’t just leave. If she doesn’t have much self-confidence or she cares too much about what others think, she may find it easier to participate rather than be the odd one out. This is where making sure she is brave and confident enough to do her own thing without fretting over what others think comes into play. If she's worried about getting in trouble for lying about her whereabouts, she might not call for help, even though most parents would have no problem getting their child out of a situation like that.
Down the road, the situation might be different. Now, she’s in her 20s and is holding her first professional job. She has bills to pay and frankly can’t afford to be without a job for long. She gets a promotion but soon realizes that she’s expected to ‘repay the favor to her boss.’ If she feels trapped with no way out, she might feel like she has no other options. But there always are options, even if it means saying ‘No’ and possibly losing her job. She should know that she can report the issue. If nothing else, there are other jobs out there. When one feels trapped, you become a victim. But if she understands that she has a choice (even if the choices aren’t good), she’ll feel stronger and she’ll likely figure out the best way out of it.
Gaining confidence and being brave is something that needs to be learned and practiced over and over again. Let’s teach our daughters to take risks and push themselves. Go off that ski jump, bike as fast as you can down that steep hill, climb that mountain. As society and especially as parents, we need to stop thinking that girls are fragile.
When we constantly tell them things like “be careful” and “watch out”, we’re indirectly implying that they should be afraid and aren’t good enough to handle the situation. Stop being so cautious and anxious. Instead, encourage and teach them how to unleash bravery by taking a chance and doing something out of the comfort zone. Believe in her and lead by example.
It’s not about that steep hill in front of her. It’s about the life ahead of her. The braver she becomes, the more confident she will become as well. And with more confidence, more doors will open for her.