IF YOU want your daughter to grow into a strong independent young woman; self-sufficient, caring, thoughtful of others, intelligent and confident, then it all starts with you. Whether your daughter belongs to a nuclear or a one-parent family, the road your daughter will ultimately take to a successful outcome begins with you.
Firstly, you should have an idea of the type of qualities you want to instil in your daughter and begin working towards them. One of the most important elements in the early years would be to cultivate (and then later on establish) a solid, friendly and caring relationship with her, while she is growing and discovering the world: A relationship where interaction and communication are consistent. This can be done through playing, singing and talking to her, reading to her and appreciating her responses. The relationship may change shape as she gets older but if it’s a good one, it should remain strong through her adolescent years and into adulthood.
Don’t give your daughter mixed messages. As she grows, stay steadfast in nurturing, loving and disciplining her. Stick to the boundaries you make, although you may need to bend them occasionally when the need arises, but do not ‘give in’ to your daughter’s ‘cute face’ or her tantrums, stay loving, but stay firm… Although girls rarely get beaten as harshly as boys, try not to introduce beating as a way of discipline. Children have difficulty understanding the concept of being beaten by someone who loves them. When girls accept being beaten, as a child, they may accept the same punishment as an adult (domestic violence). Parents who are firm and fair when disciplining their daughters, can work wonders with just a look of disapproval (from parent to child) or a few choice words of reprimand.
Parents need to be in agreement with decisions made for their daughter, even if they live apart. Girls, being that more perceptive than their male counterparts, can easily figure out how to get around their parents individually and ‘play one off’ against the other when given the opportunity: Even more so, if their parents hardly communicate. Parents should keep a united front and never quarrel or disrespect one another in front of their daughter.
Girls are constantly bombarded with outside influences so parents should aim to be one step ahead, to keep them on track and to preserve their innocence for as long as possible. So listen to and interact with your daughter in order to steer her away from negative influences, help her to make ‘her own’ sensible decisions. Be a good role model, your daughter will learn more from you based on the examples you set than from the things that you say.
Good self-esteem and self-respect are necessary for girls to get by and do well nowadays. Parents can build their daughter’s self-esteem by making her feel valuable and important. Compliment her achievements even if they do not live up to expectations: show her unconditional love. You can challenge her to do better next time, hence building her assertiveness and determination.
So much in todays’ society tends to be based on ‘looks’ with the media, music and social networking reinforcing the illusion that girls and women need to be ‘sexualized’ to have any true worth. While adults know this is not true, this type of pressure is bound to play on the minds of young developing girls: especially those who were not taught that ‘genuine people’ love you for who you are and not based upon the things you have or how you look.
With parental involvement, communication, loving care and understanding, parents can help keep their girls on track, while building their self-assurance and confidence to see them through those difficult ‘identity seeking’ adolescent years.
If you would like some advice on your parenting skills call the CPA on 227 4082 If you are concerned about the welfare of a child ring the CPA hotline on 227 0979
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY, MINISTRY OF SOCIAL PROTECTION