As a mom of girls, raising strong daughters is one of my biggest priorities. Here’s what research says is the formula how to raise a strong confident girl(s).
This article was sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001. www.massmutual.com All opinions are those of the author.
What is the number one predictor of a young girl’s future success?
It’s not money.
Nor a fancy education.
It’s her mother.
The Biggest Impact on a Girl’s Future Success is a Strong Mother
In honor of Women’s History Month, I’m teaming up with MassMutual to celebrate the unsung heroes in our lives — namely, our mothers.
More and more research shows that the biggest precursor for a girl’s future success is having a strong mother figure in her life. The way moms live, act, and speak sets the tone for how their daughters view themselves and interact with the world around them.
What the experts say:
Executive coach and international speaker Bonnie Marcus says that of the hundreds of women she interviewed for a 2015 survey, those who considered themselves ambitious listed a strong mother as their number one influence.
Believe it or not, even teenagers consider their mom to be their biggest influence. In survey of over 1000 teenage girls by Keds and Girls Leadership, 63% of girls say their role model is their mom.
Even more surprising — 48% of teenage girls surveyed said that they ask their mom for advice, compared to 15% who say they turn to their friends for help.
Knowing that we mothers are the biggest influence in our daughter’s lives — even more than their peers — really drives how the importance of our job.
4 Keys to Raising Strong Daughters
The following are four things we mothers can do to ensure that we are raising strong women.
1. Watch your words
Your kids are always listening, even when you think they’re not paying attention.
My mom always jokes that my four-year-old daughter is a sponge and that I need to be careful what I say in front of her because she remembers — and repeats — all of it!
If you want your daughters to be kind and confident, then that is the type of language they need to hear from you. Avoid gossip, foul language, and negativity — and your daughters will be more likely to do the same.
2. Stop the negative self talk
Girls are especially vulnerable during the tween and teen years, with some figures showing that their self confidence drops 30% on average.
The media and peer pressure both have a big impact on a girl’s body image. However, the way we moms talk about our own bodies plays a much bigger role than those outside influences.
According to a study by Common Sense Media, 5 to 8 year olds who think their moms are unhappy with their bodies are more likely to be dissatisfied with their own bodies.
Even something seemingly unimportant, like commenting “oh I feel so fat” after a big meal builds an emphasis on our outside appearance, rather than our inner substance.
One of the most important steps we can take to model positive self image for our daughters is to focus on health rather than weight. No “fat” talk or body shaming – even if it is our own body!
3. Do BIG things
It sometimes feels like there is an unspoken “rule” in society that we are supposed to put our own ambitions aside when we become a mother. However, to raise strong girls, they need to see us do BIG things.
One of MassMutual’s Unsung Heroes this year is Courtney Adeleye, a successful entrepreneur in Alabama. Adeleye was shocked to learn that it took her daughter’s teacher hours to get to and from school every day because she had to make multiple bus transfers.
So Adeleye did something BIG — she bought her daughter’s teacher a car (and even wrapped it in a bow!)
It’s not first time that Adeleye has done something life-changing for others. In fact, she exemplifies the “live mutual” idea that we’re all in this thing called life together. Adeleye’s company started a program where a lucky customer gets their bill paid for the month, and used that program to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey last year.
Growing a successful business that gives back teaches kids about money, but also how to be a contributing member of the community.
By setting a big example in how we live our own lives, we show our daughters that they are capable of doing anything.
4. Encourage her to think for herself
Even though we try to set an example for how we want our girls to live, they are their own people. And that’s a good thing! Part of raising strong women is nurturing independent, creative thinkers with the confidence to forge their own path.
Growing up my mom gave me a lot of freedom to pursue my interests. From picking my own clothes out in preschool to starting my own website at 12 — my mom encouraged me to think for myself.
I know without a doubt that this ability to be creative, and explore my own opinions and ideas molded me into the person I am today. If I hadn’t been encouraged to start my own business as a teenager, I’m not sure I would be a blogger and business owner today.
One of the biggest gifts we can give our daughters is knowing when to offer our guidance, and when to step back and let them figure things out on their own.
Raising strong girls is one of the biggest challenges, and also one of the most rewarding experiences as a mother. Do you have any tips to share about how to raise a strong girl? Share them in the comments below!