An article on Forbes.com titled “8 Ways to Raise A Confident Female,” popped up on my Facebook newsfeed a couple of weeks ago, and it rang so true that I had to share it with my mom and dad. The article describes the top eight things that parents should do in order to raise confident daughters.
I had to look at the byline of the article a couple of times, because from the tips that were given, I could have sworn that it was written by one or both of my parents. Below are the tips that the Forbes article mentioned and how my parents checked off each touch-point.
- Tell her you believe in her. As I was growing up, my accomplishments were always recognized by my parents and my failures were always discussed. There was no doubt in my mind that my parents backed me on everything that I’ve ever done. And there’s no doubt that they still back me on my current endeavors. Every time that I visit home one or both of my parents tell me that they’re proud of me.
- Get her outside. My parents always encouraged Merrick and me to be outside. During the summer and even the school year, we were outside from sun-up to sun-down playing soccer, dodgeball, golf, kickball, rollerbat and swimming. I can’t even count the amount of times that my parents took us hiking, camping or to the beach to “get us outside.”
- Pursue her interests. Sports were always mine and my sister’s biggest interests when we were younger and my parents encouraged those interests by volunteering in big ways within our sports organizations. They took on multiple activities that were no easy tasks: coaching soccer, presiding as swim team president, presiding as varsity soccer president, timing and stroke and turning at swim meets, volunteering as a field marshal at soccer tournaments, driving golf carts at every SCJGA event, and much more. Now, as we’ve grown older, they’ve supported my sister and me in our new interests like our education at Clemson (by attending CU football games), our participation in non-profits (by attending annual fundraising events) and even our love for social media (my parents have now joined Twitter/LinkedIn/FB).
- Minimize the princess. Merr and I have never gone without, but we were never treated or taught to believe that we were princesses. My parents were very realistic in the way that they raised us. I expect to be treated by a princes now (by Robert :-)) but it’s not in a high-maintenance sort of way. For this, I am very thankful.
- Parent with empathy. My mom has this super-natural power of empathizing with me. I’m not sure if it’s a mother’s intuition (that maybe I’ll inherit one day), or if she’s just super-mom. She empathizes when I have a bad day, when I’m feeling sick, when my tires need replacing, when I’m in a tiff with a friend… and the list goes on and on. I know that whatever I’m going through, I can talk to my parents about it because somehow they can relate to what I’m going through and I know they’ll be on my side- no matter what.
- Help her love her looks. Both of my parents are in great shape are comfortable in their own skin. Their feelings of body image have filtered down to Merrick and myself. Every time that my mom or dad mentions our looks, it’s through positive comments like, “I can tell you’ve been working out,” or “You look adorable in that outfit.” It’s so much easier to love your body when your parents consistently give positive reinforcement around looks.
- Sign her up for sports. I’m not sure you’ll meet a pair of sisters who played four different sports when they were young (soccer, tennis, golf and swimming). My parents introduced us to each of these activities at a young age and encouraged our participation as we grew older. Their ultimate goal was that we’d learn these sports so that one day, we could all play as a family. Now, Merr and I can competitively play my parents in both tennis and golf. Growing up with sports in our lives has not only made us more confident, but also helped pulled our family together with our similar interests.
- Show interest in her academics. My parents saved our old kitchen table in our attic and recently started using it again when Merr took our newer one to MUSC. When they brought it down from the attic, you could see numbers and letters engraved into it in clear elementary-aged students’ handwriting. I vividly remember sitting at that table with my mom and dad talking about problems in Math Superstars, English papers about Shakespeare and even learning how to tell time. My parents both took a vested interest in our studies, and in a roundabout way, the table markings explain why Merrick and I did so well in school.
After sharing this article with my mom and dad, my mom sent me a text that said, “And to think, we didn’t read any parenting guides.” Well guess what? I guess I won’t be reading them either.