I have a few friends that I think are the most awesome parents ever. When I have a problem or question about parenting, their advice will what I seek out to assist me with my problem. Kristi is one of those friends. Kristi and I went to high school together. She is now the mom to three beautiful girls, 14, 13, and 10. I asked her to write a guest post for me about raising strong daughters to be independent women.
Raising daughters today. Quite a daunting task.
My name is Kristi and I have three daughters, ages 14, 13 and 10. We all live together with my husband (their dad), a female golden retriever, an old blind male mixed breed dog, a weirdly uncoordinated female cat and a possibly pregnant bunny (after a “play date” with the neighbors boy bunny). My poor husband is seriously outnumbered in our household but, bless his heart, he normally handles it pretty well!
Jennifer asked me to write a guest post for her and include some tips and tricks on raising girls to be strong and confident young women. We’ve got three completely different personalities going on in our girls but there are some basic parenting beliefs I think apply to all.
The oldest used to be very shy. Now, she’s not, but she is slow to warm up to new situations and sometimes is hesitant to try new things. She likes to know what’s coming up and is not a big fan of surprises (and will tell you with plenty of eye rolling and attitude if necessary!).
The middle one is very studious and a bit of a perfectionist where school is concerned but otherwise is a bit of risk taker. She loves roller coasters, climbing high, and trying new things. I wasn’t sure I would survive her toddlerhood, but I did, and now I’m dreading driving in a few years.
The youngest is a social butterfly. We jokingly say she could make friends with a brick wall. She’s never met a stranger and is very confident in new situations almost all the time. She’s the first one to ask a sales person or waiter for help with no hesitations! She’s also a little spoiled because she’s the youngest and somehow manages to bat those eyelashes a little too frequently! Boys, watch out! I don’t worry about her having a boyfriend, I worry about the boy!
I have a few very firm parenting beliefs and I’ll share a few with you here.
1. I believe we can’t give our kids self esteem as the popular media seems to think. Kids self esteem is built in one way, trying something hard repeatedly until it is mastered. Getting a medal for playing soccer when really all you did all season is twirl around the field and do a cartwheel every time the coach wasn’t looking (yes, my middle one did this and got a medal for it) doesn’t create self esteem. Her response to the medal? “I don’t know why I got this…I don’t like soccer and I’m not even good at it”.
She’s right. She’s not good at soccer (and that’s okay), but she’s good at many other things and those with a healthy self esteem are able to say “I’m good at some things, and not so good at others” instead of “I’m so incredibly wonderful, I’m good at EVERYTHING”! Let your kids tie their shoes, make their lunch, get a bad grade when deserved, ask for help in the store, try different sports and activities… basically let them experience the joy and pride that comes with doing things for themselves, failing, and picking themselves up to try and try again. This allows them to become competent. Competency builds self esteem. Not meaningless praise for being “the best” when they know they aren’t the best at everything!
2. Kids are entitled to their opinions and they deserve to have someone listen to them and respect their thoughts. You don’t have to agree with them. As a matter of fact, it’s fun sometimes to have discussions and respectful debates. They must learn to think for themselves! My husband and I often disagree on politics and religion and we do it in front of the kids. I feel it’s a learning experience for them to hear us both present our views and the reasons for them. And, yes, we have a fun, healthy marriage even though we disagree often on two hot button topics and I’m always the one in the right (another story, another day!).
3. We are raising adults, not kids. As much as I love my girls, I don’t want to be supporting them when they are 25 (or 40)! I want to be able to be friends with them one day. Right now, I can’t be their friend because my job is to parent them. One day, when they pay their own bills, live in their own homes, and are really adults, I hope we can be friends and they’ll look back on their time in my home with a new found respect, especially once they reward me for all my hard work with the world’s most perfect grandkids!
4. And last, but not least, you must accept them for who they are. Your dreams should not be forced upon them. They deserve to have their own dreams in order to figure out who they are and where they want to go in life. Our dreams for our kids should be for them to grow up to be happy, fulfilled, contributing members of society. If they choose to be a rocket scientist or doctor, that’s great. If a garbage collector fulfills them, that’s great too.
They came from us, but are completely separate from us. We must love them enough to let them go and find their own way. hey WILL take wrong turns along the way, didn’t you? And the wrong turns will help them grow in wisdom and maturity. Love them through it and be their safe place to fall when necessary. Growing up is hard! Acknowledge that with them and do not be afraid they will fail. They WILL fail and they will learn to pick themselves up and try again and again until they figure it out for themselves. It’s part of life, and our job is not to protect them from failure. It is to help guide them through it, give them the courage to try, and then try again.
Love her. And I SO agree with number 4, which is sometimes the hardest. I think it is so important to let our children follow their dreams and to not put our dreams on them. Thanks Kristi for sharing!
For more posts in this series you can select the Girl Power tab above or visit one of these previous posts: