Anyone who has a tween/teen daughter knows the following: they will hate you and slam the door on a regular basis, and they will also begin to hate their own bodies. There’s no need to explain why — we all know how society starts to tell girls that there is only a tiny, narrow range of young women and girls who are beautiful, and a girl’s sole job in life is to work full-time toward that narrow goal.
We say heck with that. Instead, let’s teach girls how to view the world and the messages they receive more critically, and while we’re at it, model better behavior ourselves so they don’t get that message from US.
Here’s five simple ways to start building up our daughters—and maybe they’ll be a bit less angry and less likely to slam doors in our face.
Don’t Trash Talk Other People’s Bodies
If someone is a jerk, it’s not because of the shape of their body. Teach your girls to focus on the being-a-jerk part, and not the body that the jerk is wearing. There is literally never, ever a reason to discuss a woman’s body shape or size in a negative light. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and what matters more is how a person IS rather than how a person LOOKS. Modeling this for your daughter may require a withdrawal and rehab program from all Real Housewife shows.
You Can Love Yourself And Still Think Your Body Is Occasionally THE WORST
Find me a teenage girl that wants to love her body on a day when it’s riddled with menstrual cramps, and I’ll sell you the pegasus I fly through the sky that farts rainbows. Find me a girl that loves her acne or is staring down braces and thinks she could use more adversity puddles to jump over because it “builds character and grit.” There is nothing wrong with validating these complaints from your daughter and saying, “preach, girl, preach.” In fact by acknowledging that not everything about being a girl is roses, she’s more likely to speak openly about other struggles she may be having and will lean on you for support. Which is exactly what you want her to do.
Don’t Dress For Your Body “Type”
Got a body? Have you put clothes on it that meet society’s standards of decency? GREAT. You’re done. Teaching our daughters to dress in ways that hide or — that sly word that insults as it attempts to soothe — to “flatter” your body type is a fast track way to tell girls their bodies are bad or wrong. If they like how they look in clothes even when they have a “VBO” (visible body outline) you’ve done your job as a parent. While you’re at it, dress in a way that celebrates your own body too.
Your Worth Isn’t Related To How You Look
We won’t lie; this one is probably the hardest. Because literally everything in the world will tell you that how you look is literally the most important part of being a girl. So how do you model this for your daughters? You praise them for being smart, kind, and resourceful. You talk about women’s accomplishments without commenting on their beauty. This is one of the most challenging hardware resets you’ll ever have to do on your own brain.
Model Resilience For Your Daughters
Probably the most practical life skills we can give our daughter is resilience. Learning how to recover from being knocked down makes you a better friend, partner, and worker. This means turning a critical eye to how you cope with the negative in life, and how that might look to your daughters. A great place to start is by showing your daughters how to not take things personally to the best of your ability.
Let’s raise a generation of girls who know who they are, regardless of how they look. We can do this! You might have to just accept that door slamming on occasion, sadly. Heck, you might want to slam a door or two yourself!
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