Tag Archives: feminism

On Being the Woman You Want Her to Become

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Ghandi

Be the woman you want her to become. During a conversation recently with a friend about girl empowerment I shared what had been bothering me for a while,

“Did you ever notice that we invest so much time in ensuring our daughters pursue their dreams while most of us ignore our own or relegate our truest dreams to the back burner?”

She had noticed the same thing.

“What message does that send our girls and our boys about the importance of our desires and theirs too?”

If you ask any parent (or child), they will confirm that it is what we model in action that sends the most powerful message to young people. Pursuing your dreams wholeheartedly isn’t selfish but is honoring what you are designed to give to the world. It is speaking the truth in action that your life and time deserve the same level of attention and care as each member of your family. What I have also noticed is that as children get older, they express significant pride in their parent’s professional accomplishments and impact on the world.

Take up space in your own life for the world’s sake and to give the girls and boys that are watching permission to do the same.

Reclaim Your Dreams Workbook is available on Amazon.

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Six Important Habits for Empowering Your Daughter

Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.”  – Harriet Tubman

supergirllife

Originally appeared on sheheroes.org. 

We all want our daughters to be the real-life super girl they were meant to be – confident, believing they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to. For a time, when they are really young this seems to be easy, almost effortless. So much so, that sometimes we secretly wish they weren’t quite so eager to take the world by storm. Have you ever met a toddler that wasn’t self-possessed?

As they grow, though, ensuring our daughter feels empowered takes serious, conscious effort – particularly in a culture where she is bombarded at ever younger ages with the script that what really matters are not her achievements and character, but rather what size skinny jeans she wears. Media messages that most often relegate females to a role of passivity – awaiting rescue – rather than taking action to determine her destiny.

So what do we do? How do parents that are over-the-top crazy about their daughters ensure that they hold onto and develop that natural super-girl within? Over the last few years, I have interviewed countless tweens and teens to get a window into girlhood. And these young women have a lot to teach us about how to raise our daughters. Based on those conversations, research, and my personal experience as a mama to two, here are just a few power habits to get you started:

  1. Focus on intellect and work ethic.  Lisa Bloom, Author of Think, has a magical way of interacting with girls that she meets for the first time. Rather than making a comment about how pretty her dress is, she asks her new friend what she is reading. It’s a good thing, of course, to tell your daughter (or son) that they are beautiful. Just be sure to spend 10x more effort noticing how hard she is working at conquering that math problem.
  2. Regularly solicit her opinion. Create a girl that is confident about her opinion by asking what she thinks on topics from her favorite color to global warming, feminism and world affairs. Respect her opinion, but don’t be afraid to disagree with her so learns to defend her stance. Be sure to ask your daughter why she believes what she does. Try not to correct her on the “tone” that she uses to deliver unsolicited opinions. Girls are given a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle messages that she should be smart, just not TOO opinionated or direct. So it’s important that she knows stating what she believes is a good thing.
  3. Expose her to as many strong female role models as possible. There are countless women who are doing work that they are passionate about and making an impact in the world. Expose your daughter to those you know in real life and those that you can find through film, television, and online. Point these amazing role models out whenever you come across them in your life. This site, www.sheheroes.org is a great place to start!
  4. Develop a media critic.  Never underestimate the influence of negative media messages on a girl’s self-esteem. Reducing what your daughter is exposed to definitely helps. Since you can’t completely avoid the damaging messages though, teach her early on to be a critical observer, questioning the motives of an advertiser or television show. “Huh, I wonder why this movie has the girl waiting to be saved. She must be really bored! They clearly don’t understand what girls like to do.”
  5. Set aside a few minutes daily to consider the bigger stuff of life. It may sound silly to have your elementary school daughter pondering the meaning of life, but it is never too early to start making this life-changing ritual part of your day. It makes setting time aside to be conscious about her life an early habit and also gives the powerful underlying message that she is in charge of her future.
    • Start with just 5 minutes each day or a week even (if five minutes is too long, then go with 1 or 2 minutes). Unless your daughter is an early riser, evenings before bed may be best if she is in school all day.  She can use a special journal or notebook set for only this special time. Younger children may simply use the notebook to draw something magical. As your daughter gets a bit older, you can ask her open ended questions like, “What did you love about today?” And preteen and teen girls are ready for questions about imagining their biggest, boldest dreams. (For a daily guide for this practice, check out Take 5 for Your Dreams.
  6. Teach her to be brave by trying new things. Most of us develop confidence by experiencing mastery of a new skill that we were initially afraid to do or were simply unfamiliar with whether it be rock climbing, a challenging scientific theory, or meeting new friends. Encourage your daughter to step out of her comfort zone sometimes. When she is struggling with a new skill, remind her of the other times she’s learned something new.

Remember your daughter is her own one-of-a-kind super girl. Create an environment where she is reminded of that consistently and she will be compelled to reach for the stars.

For more practical habits to empower your daughter, sign up for our weekly tips on developing courage and confidence in the girls and young women in your life.

The book Take 5 for Your Dreams was created especially for preteen and teen girls and provides more than 90 five-minute daily exercises designed to inspire girls to think about their future, their goals, and how they can get there. Packed with beautiful photos, quotes, mini-essays, and resources, it’s a simple and elegant solution meant to break the idea of dreaming big into easy, doable daily steps. 

 

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Why Hillary is in My Dreams

You can be what you can see. -adapted from Marian Wright-Edelman quote
shutterstock_206126209

I don’t often have vivid dreams, but this one felt so real that it stays with me two weeks later.

In the dream I was attending a business event in a swanky hotel’s  ballroom, similar to ones I have been in many times. I was sitting in one of many rows of chairs set up for a workshop due to begin soon.

As I was waiting for the session to start, I noticed that the hotel staff was busy setting up chairs for a second event on the other side of the ballroom. I knew immediately that Hillary Clinton was coming to speak. I also knew that although my event would be fine (and ordinary and perhaps  flat) that I was called to the other side of the room where the excitement was palpable.

Without hesitation, I moved over to the other side of the room.

(Too typical I know), but I looked down and realized that I still had my pajamas on and immediately bolted home to get dressed.

After being temporarily distracted at home, I hurried back to the event, worried that I was too late, that I had missed the window of opportunity, and then looked down seeing that I was now only half prepared (as I was still wearing my pajama pants!)

But it was too late to return home and finish getting ready.

And with that I ran back to the Hillary event, snagging a front row seat and founded myself surrounded by several other women, ranging in age from twenties to seventies and beyond. As we waited for HRC to take the podium, I huddled close to these other women; our emotions palpable as we shared why we were there. Hillary Clinton did arrive in the end and it was just as spectacular as I imagined.

Politics aside, the symbolism of this dream is almost absurdly personal as I have been struggling with whether or not I should respond to a particular calling.

Do I stay where I am (the fine, but ordinary and flat side of the room)? Or do I take it up a level, where there is excitement, but risk? Can I do this? Am I ready (No. Definitely not, but perhaps, half ready. See pjs). And the most sobering question of all… Is it too late? 

When I awoke, I was inspired and clear-headed. After her defeat in 2008, like many, I assumed that Hillary Clinton’s window of opportunity to become the first female president had closed and now, here we are in 2016, it is once again a possibility as she has just made history as the first woman to be nominated for President of a major political party.

I know how HRC’s historic rise impacts my daughter and son and a generation of girls and boys across the United States who are watching a 240 year barrier lifted. (You can be what you can see.)

But, what moves me just as much, is that I also see the significance for a generation of women and men in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond. Women, who for a variety of societal and personal reasons, started toward a bold dream late or perhaps are ready for a new vision and calling.

No matter your political views, I hope that Hillary’s nomination serves as a powerful reminder, that despite defeat and obstacles and yes, age, that it is not too late to pursue your dream, to answer a bold calling…

That all of us, can do and be whatever we want starting today even if we begin only half ready with our pajama pants on. 

Do it. Take the risk. Began today. I sure plan to.

xo Paula

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