Birthday Wish

Sunflower turns 5 years old today, and in honor of her birthday, I researched a few articles with ideas for raising strong, confident girls.

How to Raise Strong, Confident Girls encourages parents and caretakers to:

* Praise little girls for what they can do, not just what they look like. “You’re so pretty!” will make her think appearance is her greatest attribute, but “You worked so hard on that sand castle!” lets her know she’s valued for her skills.

* Help her realize that girls and boys are not boxed into limited choices. There is more to a girl’s life than pink. Make sure her clothes and her room are made of many colors, and not just light pink, dark pink and magenta. It may seem like a small factor, but it helps take her beyond the only “girls wear/do this and boys wear/do that.”

*Make sure her toy box includes trucks, play tools and modeling clay as well as dolls. Include some action hero costumes in her dress-up clothes collection.

* Remind others, and her, that she is valued for more than her appearance. Don’t be sabotaged by Grandma and Grandpa. When well-meaning relatives fuss over her curly hair and big eyes, remind them—in front of her—that she just learned to tie her shoes and do a cartwheel.

* Take her out to the ball game and the car show as well as the ballet. Introduce her to a variety of interests.

Heather Johnston-Nicholson, president of research for Girl, Inc., in an article on WebMD called Raising Strong, Confident Girls, poses the important question: How good a role model do you think you are? “If we’re not monitoring our messages, we’re passing them on,” she warns.

Learning to recognize negative messages and stereotypes is something you can do together. “Watch TV together, look at her favorite magazines with her, and deconstruct the messages together,” Johnston-Nicholson says. “Ask her what she thinks this show says about girls, what they’re like and how they should be. Ask her about the ethics of the show, and if that’s how she and her friends treat each other. Talk about the messages about bodies, and if the girls in the magazine pictures look the way people really look.”

As Sunflower turns 5, I wish her the strength to rise above the constant bombardment of “Girls can’t/don’t do that!” every time she attempts an activity more challenging than wearing a dress and smiling prettily; I wish her the curiosity to constantly explore her world and push its limits; I wish her the self-reliance to pursue her interests even when met with disapproval of a sexist environment; I wish her the heart to love herself as she is and to pursue whoever she wants to be; I wish her a strong voice to speak up when others think girls should be docile and quiet; most of all, I wish her the boldness and freedom to spread her wings and take flight, and take the world by storm with the fire of what she can do when she is no longer held back.

More resources:

How to Raise Girls with Healthy Self-Esteem

About TheSmirkingCat

I am endlessly trying to make sense of a world that has completely and unapologetically lost its mind.
This entry was posted in birthday, breaking stereotypes, girls, raising strong girls, Sunflower. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Birthday Wish

  1. furiousBall says:

    thanks for these recommendations, for a daddy of a little girl, i need all the help i can get 🙂

  2. Happy Birthday, Sunflower! 😉I liked this piece of advice: “Take her out to the ball game and the car show as well as the ballet. Introduce her to a variety of interests.”My dad built me a Barbie doll house that was the envy of the neighborhood kids, and he also taught me to rotate the tires and change the oil in the car. We also were “junior Padres” with season tickets to the baseball games.I enjoyed the post; it reminded me of the little girl inside. 🙂

  3. mean stepmom says:

    This post reminds me of what “could have been.” When my stepdaughter lived with her biological mom, she was a toddler pageant queen with a closet full of dresses, Barbie doll purses and toy lipstick. Ten years after I became her stepmom, she’s sliding in the dirt across home plate, writing her own poetry, playing saxophone in marching band, and learning photography. She’s grown into a beautiful young lady, but she knows she is more than just a pretty face. I am sure you will make sure Sunflower learns the same. I hope she has a happy birthday!

  4. Crys says:

    Happy Birthday to Sunflower!What great information about raising girls!Younger Boy turns three today also.

  5. lyndaspix says:

    A wonderful post! I couldn’t agree more. My daughter loved her Barbie dolls, stuffed animals, girly-girl clothing and having her hair french braided when she was little. But she also learned how to shoot guns and bows, played soccer and floor hockey and learned Tae Kwon Do alongside her brother. I think she’d tell you she appreciated all the experiences and values the lessons learned through each of those things. Happy Birthday Sunflower! Daddy’s coming home very soon! I’m sure you’re very excited about that!!

  6. KiKi says:

    Yes, yes, yes!!! It’s sad to see how much we as women degrade ourselves under the guise of being “liberated.” And what do we do with our hard won “equality?” We become desperate housewives. Wow, just what I want my daughter to strive for.

  7. macocha says:

    happy birthday, sunflower!

  8. it’s wonderful she has you in her life to teach and mold her in VERY well rounded way. sure, there is nothing wrong with being a girl and loving girl stuff- but we all need to be informed of everything else there is out there. great advise- though i have no kids yet, this will certainly stick with me!

  9. Stephanie says:

    Good stuff. Not stuff we hear enough about, unfortunately. Our girls definitely get the mix. I’m pretty much a girlie-girl, but My Hubby has taken them to the races and the car shows, he’s shown them how he changes the oil in the car, taught them all sorts of things that will serve them well in the future.I love that balance for them, for our boys, too.

  10. You have some great info here! As the mother of a 10yo girl, I am constantly on the look out for GOOD books for her and I to read about self-esteem, confidence, etc… The American Girl Library has a few books that are actually pretty good too but I always go to a book store and look through them pretty good before buying because a few of them I would not recommend as the message tends to get a bit blurred when it comes to the relationship of vanity and self-worth….but thats just my opinion. They do have a few that are REALLY great, though! The Girl Child and I have read some together and we have enjoyed them! Also… if your daughter is into sports at all, I would HIGHLY encourage that you encourage her to participate in sports. There is a lot of data out there that supports how sports participation helps girls with confidence, self-esteem, etc. I know TGC has seen a lot of benefit from doing team sports. 🙂 For me, it is all about information and choice. If my daughter grows up to be a homemaker, that is great if that is what SHE CHOOSES to do and is what makes her happy. I simply want her to be well informed about all the options life has to offer her and not feel she is ever limited due to gender. I especially do not want her to EVER be in a position to have to rely on anyone else for food, shelter or any core need against her will.

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