When we found out we were having a girl, I loved daydreaming about the pink hairbows and the frilly princess costumes. I couldn’t wait to brush her hair and braid it into pigtails. Smocked dresses! Mommy/Daughter manicures! Dancing to Beyonce! (WHO RUNS THE WORLD? GIRLS.) Oh the joys!
It wasn’t until later that my daydreaming slowly transitioned to a growing panic… Having a girl also means lots of tears and all the drama. Mean girls. Conversations about maxi pads. Fragile self image. Twerking. (Dear Lord, please let twerking stop existing as a thing by the time she is of age for school dances. Amen.) Thankfully I was able to sidestep the full-fledged panic attack and gradually embrace the challenge of having a daughter in the era of selfies.
Now I realize in the raising-a-daughter department I’m no expert, considering I’ve only been a Mom for a hot minute and my parenting expertise is limited to conquering nap time and saying Peek-a-Boo at different pitches. The thoughts here are a collage of observations, realizations, and aspirations, a collection of ideas that formed as a result of attentively studying the amazing mothers around me and deciding I wanted to do this as well as they did.
In the very same way that we, as women, faced important questions about our identities, our daughters are going to grow up and wonder:
How do I make sense of the world’s messages about who I am?
What defines beauty?
Am I enough?
In a world that values skin complexion, the numbers on the scale, and the tucking and tightness of all body parts, my daughter will have her fair share of insecurity. She will come downstairs in inappropriate clothing and will promptly be told “Girl, I know you are not leaving this house in booty shorts. Thanks for playing, TRY AGAIN.” As we fight she will think I know nothing and have zero life experiences. But I hope, at the end of it all, she learns that developing the beauty of her character deserves just as much attention as her hair products and Pinterest boards.
Raising my girl to be confident in who she is needs to first start with what she sees in me. If she watches me stand in front of the bathroom mirror incessantly primping and fixing and curling, or commenting on the imperfections of my appearance, then my underlying message appears to be “This is the most important. You’re beautiful and valued because of all of this.” Don’t get me wrong- we all gotta take care of our Money Makers. All I’m saying is these little girls are watching the women in their world to understand what beauty is and we have the responsibility and privilege as Moms to shape this part of who they are as we raise them.
Moms of girls, together we strive to raise our daughters well and instill values that will help them grow to become strong, confident women. Keeping in mind that perfection in parenting is out of reach, we accept grace daily. We recognize the terrifying yet freeing reality that even when given the very best model, our girls will grow up making their own choices, endure many mistakes, and battle unique insecurities.
Choosing to start somewhere to build our daughters up, let’s balance our compliments about their physical beauty with equally sincere compliments about their creativity, intellect, and inquisitive spirits. Let’s first be committed to loving and accepting who God created us to be as women so we can raise our girls with an authentic model of inner beauty and self confidence.
And if that also brings about manicures and Queen Bey dance-offs in the kitchen, then so be it.