Empowering Girls – The process begins

About two years ago, I asked my Facebook followers what they would like to read about on my personal blog. I wasn’t out of ideas by any means, but I enjoy connecting with my readers, so I thought it would be nice to write something that they suggested.

What I got back involved ’empowering girls in today’s society’.

I have twenty and eleven year old daughters who have put my wife and me through just about every situation you can think of, short of being very young grandparents. We’ve had accidents, breakups, sneaking out, stealing, public rudeness, and most definitely the gamut of mood swings gifted to them by our good friend, Aunt Flo.

Many of these little ‘incidents’ we as parents can’t really do anything about. The old adage ‘kids will be kids’ is a very true statement and quite honestly, I would much prefer that they experience bad along with good so they know first-hand that I’m not completely full of crap when I tell them something is not a good idea. You damn sure can’t do anything about biology, so the monthly demon resurrections are also here to stay.

I am a huge advocate for strong, independent women.

Call me a feminist of you want, but I think it’s great that women are dominating the workplace. Good for you for becoming the majority population in places of higher learning. And more power to you for wanting to achieve more. The funny thing is that you have always been in control, whether you knew it or not. History is littered with women who made their mark and changed the world. These accomplished women all had one thing in common. They were confident. Confident in themselves and their skills, whatever they were.

Growing up, however, I’m certain that they faced some very rough times. Acceptance, looks, popularity, sexual pressure, developmental differences—all of the same things girls still face. I’m a boy. I know how boys work. Their little hormones are raging just like the girls’, but they are more outward, more physical, more driven by instinct. Girls (most anyway) are driven my emotion. They show that stuff hurts their feelings more. Little things, like subtle suggestions that they might not be as pretty as the next girl have hugely damaging effects not as apparent in boys. Boys tend to deflect. Girls absorb and let it fester.

How I make a difference.

With my girls, I do everything in my power to ensure they grow up strong. They know early on that makeup cannot cover what is on the inside and should be only used to accentuate what they already have on the outside. They are taught to do for themselves instead of playing frail and weak, expecting to be taken care of. They are taught the basics that will allow them to hook up their own cable, build their own bookcases, and know what tools are and how to use them. They are (or will be) preached to at Ad nauseam that they are not obligated to nor should they ever feel pressured to have sex. In short, they are in control of themselves and should they choose not to allow someone to equal them, they will function just fine. Basically, I arm them with necessary skills then encourage the crap out of them so they are confident in their ability to use them.

So how do you help build confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth?

It is a constant process, but here’s an abbreviated list of things that can help:

  1. Keep the lines of communication open.
  2. Know what is going on in their lives and truly care about it.
  3. Be engaged.
  4. Listen.
  5. Nurture.
  6. Swallow your pride and opinions and let them air out things that are important to them.
  7. Roughhouse.
  8. Say ‘No’.
  9. Be their friend…by not being their friend.
  10. Be an example of what love and healthy relationships look like.
  11. Be there.
  12. Let them fall down.
  13. Let them get dirty.
  14. Teach them that they can do things for themselves.
  15. Teach them that it’s ok to cry, but crying doesn’t add to the solution.
  16. Instill in them the truth that their body and mind belongs to them and no one else.
  17. Explain to them that they need to be happy with themselves before they can make someone else happy.
  18. Tell them they are beautiful, smart, good, deserving, and strong.
  19. Tell them you love them.
  20. Encourage them. Then encourage them again… and again and again and again.

I could go on forever, but I think I will let you take over from here.

What have/will you tell your daughter as she matures to ensure she is confident in herself and can go forth to do great and wonderful things? What were you told that made a difference? What do you wish you were told that you think could have made that difference?

A version of this story appeared first on Go Team Duncan in 2011. Photo credit: lisby1 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA


The Beginning
About Brandon P. Duncan

Brandon is a dad, husband, US Soldier, and co-founder of Dads Round Table.
When not knee-deep in one of those things, he can often be found tinkering with a woodworking project, writing, drawing, or Photoshopping something... or napping... or he's hurt himself again... or... something...

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  1. Thanks for this post Brandon. My daughters are somewhat younger at 4 and 6, but I hope to achieve the same thing for them as you do for your daughters. I am going to hang on to your list and refer to it over the years as I go through this journey with them.

    • Brandon P. Duncan says:

      Start now. If they grow up never knowing the difference, even better. Trust me, you will do a lot of damage control with your kids once school age comes. There are a lot of parents that do not teach their kids the best lessons. If you can instill a little toughess early on, it will make things easier. (My opinion only, of course. I’m not a parenting expert, if there is such a thing.)

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