How To Raise A Strong Daughter in 2020
The women’s rights movement began in 1848 with 100 participants at a women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls. Since that time, women have secured the right to vote, the right to make their own reproductive decisions, and the right to fight against sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace. But women still face less pay for doing the same work as men, less autonomy over their own bodies, and even in the current #MeToo era, they face a higher risk of being discriminated against, harassed, or assaulted because they are women.
It often feels as though we are on the precipice of significant change. But change happens slowly, and mothers raising daughters today are still painfully aware of the dangers and hurdles that exist.
That’s why it’s important to teach our daughters how far women have come and how far we still have to go.
Read to Them: Books can be a gateway to the past and an opportunity to engage our daughters in conversations about the strong women we hope they may one day emulate. Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted and Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli’s Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls are children’s books designed to help our daughters understand the challenges women have faced throughout history while also focusing on the ways women have used their voices to fight for themselves and others. These books are educational, empowering, and must-reads for the next generation of feminists.
Get Them Engaged: Now is the time to teach our daughters how to use their voices by showing them how we use ours. When you vote, bring your daughters with you. Talk to them about the choices you’re making and why. Ask them about who they would vote for if they could and encourage them to continue thinking critically about those choices. Bring them along with you to rallies and marches. Allow them to witness firsthand what it looks like when women come together with a shared passion and fight for the change we all deserve.
Build Them Up: Speaking of passion, encourage your daughter(s) to explore and chase theirs. Allow them to be their own people, and to go after their dreams. Praise their successes and lift them back up after their failures. In doing all this, you can instill the fight in them, teaching them that what they want, what they care about, and what they strive for matters. That with enough hard work and perseverance, it’s all within their reach. When we raise confident girls, they become confident women who can go out into the world and continue to change it.
Teach Them to Fight: The world is evolving, but not quickly enough. Girls and women are still susceptible to violence, harassment, and discrimination at every turn. Let us teach our girls how to wield their power and fight back if they are being harmed. Enroll your daughters in martial arts classes and self-defense workshops. Encourage them to join speech and debate, student government, or any other clubs that might help them to find the power in their words. Give them the tools to defend themselves when needed—both verbally and physically.
Show Them How to Love: True champions of women’s rights are also champions of human rights. We should be raising daughters who fight for women, but who also fight for members of the LGBTQ+ community, minorities, immigrants, and anyone else whose voice might be unheard. Let’s teach our daughters to be allies and to love just as hard as they fight.
Our daughters need to know the history so that they can be part of ensuring we don’t ever go backward. And they need to be given role models and taught to use their strength so they can be a part of continuing to push forward.