Awhile back, a friend forwarded me “25 Rules for Mothers with Sons”. I liked it so much I added it to my blog (giving credit where it’s due, of course, to Tabitha Studer. Her blog address is: www.studerteam.blogspot.com). I started looking around for a similar one for mothers with daughters, but hadn’t found any that I truly connected with. So over the past few months, I’ve tried to come up with a list myself.
I have really enjoyed reflecting on what I’d like to teach Makenna now that I am a mother to a daughter. Some of what I’ve written comes from working with teenage girls, the rest are things that I gleaned from my own experiences. I hope I can fulfill the things I’ve put on this list, but I’m sure that this in no way is a complete list. So I’d love your opinion. What things do you think a mother should teach her daughter? What have I missed? If you were to create your own list of Rules for Mothers with Daughters, what would be important to you? Feel free to leave me a comment below.
1. Develop her emotional intelligence—help her learn to not be ruled by her emotions, but not to ignore them either. People have long assumed that women were automatically better with feelings than men because it’s more socially acceptable for women to express them. But many women struggle with emotions. Teach her to value her feelings, but also to express them in appropriate ways and to not be driven by them. Role model healthy ways to deal with/express anger, sadness, disappointment, etc.
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2. Tearscan be beautiful, but are also powerful. Help her to not be ashamed of her sensitive side, but also share with her that tears are not to be used to manipulate others.
3.Affirm her strengths and skills, regardless of whether they’re traditional gender-role ones.Whether my daughter wants to be a nurse, a pilot, a teacher, or a mechanic, I want to delight in the strengths and skills God has given her.
4. Cultivate assertiveness. Educate her on how vicious women can be towards each other and
how to cultivate relationships that avoid these dynamics. Help her practice being assertive
rather than passive-aggressive, passive, or aggressive. Challenge her behavior if/when you see
her gossiping, excluding, or being a doormat.
5. Educate her that popularity isn’t worth being a“mean” girl or selling out your values. If
everyone likes you all the time, you’re doing something wrong. Reach out to those who
don’t fit in as naturally and be willing to explore friendships outside of your group. Life is always
richer when you surround yourself with people with a variety of personalities, interests, and
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6. Explore what things she wants to share with others and which things should only be shared
after someone has earned trust, whether it be physically, sexually, or emotionally. Empower her
to have strong boundaries and to not be afraid to defend them.
7. Empower her to express herself, to have a strong and clear voice—both with her actual
voice but also through other means…music, art, writing in a journal, etc. And teach her that she doesn’t always have to be known as the “nice” girl by always agreeing with others and not rocking the boat if necessary. Teach her how to use her voice to express herself, but not in a way that hurts others (i.e, harsh words, rumors, gossip, etc).
8. Encourage her to embrace her beauty and sexuality without using them as a way to gain
power or position or as the sole basis of her self-worth. Teach her to value character, integrity, and intelligence more than beauty.
9. Teach her how to change a tire! There will be times when she has to fend for herself and
teaching her this particular skill will remind her that she is capable of doing so.
10. Teach her how to bake and cook. Eating together is a way to connect with others and
providing some of the yummy food is a great and fun skill to have. And sometimes a plate of
cookies or a loaf of delicious banana bread can make someone feel treasured.
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11. Cultivate a sense of humor and an ability to laugh at oneself! A great sense of humor is so attractive and also makes life’s ups and downs easier to take.
12. Read, read, read! Read fiction, non-fiction, all sorts of books. Read things that challenge your mind, touch your heart, and challenge you to grow!
13. Encourage her to try new things and go new places.At the same time, as she explores the world, cultivate a street-smart sense in her.
14. Teach her that sometimes the most valuable things in life require waiting, hard work, and risk. Live these principles out in your own life.
15. Remind her that human relationships are important but that she is not solely defined by them. Her intrinsic value comes from who God made her to be rather than who she is connected to here on earth…whether it be family relationships, friendships, or romantic relationships.
16. Grow a daddy’s girl—encourage a close relationship between your husband and her.
Make sure she has “date nights” with her dad. She will feel treasured by him (which
hopefully decreases the likelihood that she’ll chase after approval from other boys/men to fill a
void) and learn lessons from him that a mother never could teach the same way.
17. Teach her to seek out men with integrity, men who treat her with respect, and make her
feel cherished. Explore what qualities important men in her life have/had that she wants in
someone of the opposite sex.
18.Listen to her, even if that means listening, listening some more, and listening again. You’re a
woman yourself, you know how much our gender talks and how good it feels when someone
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19. Support her when she feels alone socially. Teach her healthy ways to manage it when friendships break down, she feels isolated, or she is struggling with peers.Explain that some friendships will last a lifetime, others will be only for a season, and that’s okay. Encourage her to care deeply or however long that particular friend is in her life.
20. Help her love her body and all that it can do. Whether she is big-boned or petite,
encourage her to appreciate her body and be comfortable with the characteristics that aren’t
exactly as she would like. Presenting yourself with a genuine smile and carrying yourself with
confidence accentuates one’s strengths and can make you more attractive than the best
makeup or a push-up bra ever could!
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21. Encourage a healthy relationship with food. Eat to live vs. live to eat. Explore ways to
cope with difficult emotions or situations instead of turning to food.
22. Teach her how to be aware of her environment and how to read other people. If she
feels something is unsafe or fishy, encourage her to follow her gut. Encourage her to find ways
to strengthen her abilities to protect herself, both physically and emotionally, and how to make
smart choices in an unsafe world (for example…going out on the town with friends, letting
people know where you’re going, avoiding being compromised by substances, etc.). Educate her
on domestic violence and emotional abuse.
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23. From an early age, help her understand that her life story has been written by God and has already begun and is full of love, passion, and adventure. Challenge the notion that her life doesn’t truly begin until she has found “the man”. She is not a damsel in distress waiting for her prince charming.
24. Expose her to strong women, both through experiences with strong women in her family and examples from her family history. Seek out the stories of other women throughout history that are worthy of emulating. A great resource for a jumping off point is: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/
25. Teach her creative ways to bring beauty, grace, hope, and peace into all environments she comes into. Some women are gifted at making the physical environment around them beautiful. Other women bring hope, grace, and peace into situations through the mere presence of their beautiful souls.