As parents, it is our responsibility to give our kids the best we can. We need to provide for them physically, with food and clothes and shelter. We need to provide for the spiritually, in whatever way moves us. We need to provide for them emotionally, with our words and our actions.
Children learn more from what they see and hear than from what is taught to them.
Children learn from their surroundings, culture and the environment. And as much as we teach our children to be polite, they learn to be polite by mimicking our actions. When we teach our children to try new foods and eat their veggies and not to drink soda, what do they see us doing?
When you measure your food portions, how do you respond when your child asks why? When they watch you, what are they witnessing?
There are differences in the way we respond to our daughters as opposed to our sons.
Raising our daughters
There are more than a million options on how to raise our daughters from little girls through adolescence and into adulthood. Each of those decision points will either raise her up or put her down, just a little bit.
Whether it’s asking her to read out loud, or to perform arithmetic or match her socks or comb her hair. Successes, in her mind, are based on internal confidence and external encouragement. When those thing are in balance, she has a far greater chance of success. When they are out of balance, stress is introduced and success at the task is questioned.
Our encouragement or lack of encouragement goes a long way in the eyes of our children. It’s not just when our young daughters are trying something new that they need our encouragement – they need the positive energy daily, with just about everything. It breaks my heart when I see my daughters discouraged about their abilities and makes me wonder if I forgot to encourage them yesterday, last week or last month. This stuff is cumulative – and thankfully we have tons to give!
In addition to our words, we need to respect our daughters with our actions. If we tell them that we’re listening to them read out loud, then we need to be listening to them reading out loud (not looking at that text message that just came in – I’m so guilty of this, and determined to correct it!)
My daughters like to pick out their own clothes, and they aren’t very good at matching tops with bottoms. On “home days” I don’t care whether or not the clothes match – because Sam and I are with them and they aren’t being seen. But on days that they’re going to school or to a party or the park or the mall, I want to make sure that their outfits match. So what’s different?
I suppose that on days that they go out, I feel that they need to be better put together because I’m not there to protect them from potentially harmful words from other people. I have no idea how the message is being received – it could vary from her not believing in her ability to make choices or her thinking that I don’t believe in her ability or that I am being demanding or that she isn’t good enough. It’s a bit, well a LOT scary to think that this just comes from helping my daughter look put together in order to make a positive impression on those around her.
In order to help my kids learn what my true intentions are, I need to make sure that I follow up my words with actions that fall in line. So, on days that we stay home, I will wear clothes that are too big, don’t match, are comfy instead of chic (not that I have much in the way of chic stuff!) and frankly it feels nice to just lounge around in whatever. On days that we go out, I want to make a positive impression, and as such, will make sure that my clothes match my intention. The kids see the difference in what I wear and hopefully see why it matters.
We, as moms, are the first female role model that our daughters have. It is a huge responsibility for us to help them become the beautiful women they are destined to be. I’m doing the best that I can, most of the time.
Let’s chat — in the comments below, share how you’re helping your daughters grow!