By Dina Halaseh, Educational Psychologist
We live in a culture where some assume education is more important for men because they will eventually head houses and support their families. I personally see many families investing more in their son’s education than their daughter’s.
However, I grew up in a household that values education. My parents believed that education is the most important safeguard in life. We all know that life is full of uncertainties and surprises; no one can be sure which challenges might arise and when or what the future holds in store for us. But empowering myself helps ensure that I am ready to face whatever life throws at me.
Understanding the importance of empowering girls from a young age gives parents the advantage of pushing their daughters to achieve more and thrive for success. A successful mama will always be a role model for her children. When my mother was widowed at the age of 39, I saw her fight to build a career and support a family of three children.
Daughters need the support of their parents to achieve what many think is impossible. You can show them that you believe in them, that you stand by their side and that they can do whatever they set their minds to. It’s not always easy, but here are three tips to ensure we raise strong independent women.
1. Community service
Daughters can play an important part in building an equal society. Many studies show that when children are involved and feel like they have a positive impact in serving the community, their wellbeing is also positively impacted. This should be a part of every child’s life, whether a girl or a boy.
2. Avoiding praise of physical or mental “given” attributes
Praising a child for being beautiful is like praising them for being left-handed; something they don’t have any control over. Instead, you can praise their efforts to improve; their grit and hard work are much more important than the results they achieve. This will help them push forward and work harder.
Many girls are now bombarded with so many images of how a woman should look: weight, height, face and body. It’s essential to show girls that their intellect is important. Putting effort into pursuing their goals is what matters most.
3. Back and forth communication
Science shows that children who have stronger communication skills end up having healthier lifestyles, friendships, relationships and even marriages. Help them put their feelings and thoughts into words and teach him how to listen and communicate with others – you can do this as early as when they are four years old.
Some of us are used to dismissing a young child or giving them a silly answer, assuming they don’t understand. In your communication, you want to avoid baby-like language and instead, explain in all honesty and accuracy how things work and why things happen.
What you can do to support your daughters is not limited to these points, but it’s important to watch out for what we may do or say that might put our daughters down or confirm stereotypical points of view towards girls. Make sure you surround your daughters with people who inspire and challenge them, including yourselves.
Let’s encourage our daughters to succeed and make a difference in this world!