I write this from the aspect of a woman who is a daughter. I write this from the point of view of a woman who has a step-daughter that came into my life when she was 7 years old. I write this from the stance of a woman who wants to have a daughter some day. I write this from the aspect of a woman who wants to see some change in the way little girls, and women, view themselves in society.
A girl needs:
To be told she’s beautiful – every day. When she’s wearing her fanciest dress and her dirtiest jeans and tennis shoes. Tell her she’s beautiful, but then make her understand that she is so much more than that. That her beauty is only evident on the outside because of who she is on the inside.
To play make-believe – Barbie’s and princesses and ponies. Let her stretch her imagination as far as it will go. Let her dream of far off castles and unicorns and princes.
To know her self-worth – Show her that her worth is not in her body. Show her that she is so much more than what people see at first glance. Teach her that she should be smart, kind, someone worth knowing. Teach her to dig deep to find out who she is and who she wants to be.
To wear your make-up – and your jewelry and your shoes. Let her pretend to be you. She looks up to you and wants to be just like you. Make sure you are someone worthy of her aspirations.
To sing into your hair brushes – in the bathroom mirror, at the top of your lungs. We spend so much time being a mom. Don’t forget to spend some time being her best friend, too.
To do her nails – and her make-up and her hair. Don’t teach her to be vain, but teach her to take pride in her appearance. And to have fun doing it. Show her how to make herself feel beautiful, without being provocative or disrespectful to herself.
To be shown how to love – recklessly and without reservations. Teach her, by example, that her husband will need to feel respected. Let her see what unconditional love looks like, so that she will know how to show her children.
To be gentle… and tough – she will need both. Show her how to speak with kindness and nurse animals back to health. Then show her how to beat her brothers at football and stand her ground when she believes in something.
To be her own person – with her own ideas. Show her how important it is to take time for a cup of coffee and a good book, or a sky-diving lesson; whichever she prefers. Show her that taking time for herself and forming her own identity will keep her satisfied and content in life.
To see her mother love her father – show her what loving a good man can do for a woman. And what the love of a good woman can do for a man. If you aren’t married to her father, let her love him anyway.
To talk about sex – she needs to understand the passion and heart that goes into it. She needs to understand what she is actually giving when she gives her body. She needs to understand that it is more than ok to say, “no.” She needs to know that she can talk to you and ask you questions; when she’s 17 or 37. She also needs to know that she should be careful. There are boys whose hearts can be broken too.
To believe in herself – but when she can’t, assure her that you always will. The world is a scary place, full of uncertainty and pain. Make her believe that she can overcome anything, that she can accomplish anything, and that she can’t be stopped. If she believes that is true, it will be.
Her mom to cry with her – when her first pet dies, when her heart gets broken, when she puts on her wedding dress, and when she delivers her first child. Share her pain… and her joys.
To respect – and teach her that she can demand the same thing. Let her know that a boy should respect her before he is given the chance to love her and that girls who don’t respect her, don’t deserve her friendship. She also needs to know that if she doesn’t respect, people won’t respect her.
To appreciate the things she has – and work hard for the things she doesn’t. Let her decorate her own space, and save to buy the latest gadget.
To be herself – even if it’s not who you had envisioned. Let her be quiet and shy, or loud and outgoing. Let her wear clothes you don’t understand and listen to music you can’t connect with. Let her experiment with nail polish colors and hair styles, but not with drugs or boys. Let her be herself and get to know who that girl is.
To know she is loved – and has a some place to come home to. Let her come home from the sleep over early. Let her come home from college for the weekend. Let her come home for a cup of coffee when her own children are asking too much. Let her come home. Love her. And then send her back, knowing she has your unending love and support, to live her life again.