More often than not, we aren’t conveying to young women that they can do anything and everything. While the shift in society regarding female empowerment has an overwhelmingly positive tone, it’s the underlying negativity of the idea that women need empowerment that sends mixed messages. So how do you combat that negative connotation without entirely disregarding the sentiment? Here are a few steps you can take in your relationship with your daughter to ensure she feels capable, empowered, and limitless.
Tackle the Topic of Privilege Head On
First and foremost, providing your daughter(s) with a crash course in privilege will serve as the foundation for all future conversations regarding her capability. Providing your daughter with this direct insight into society may take down the shield of innocence, but it will also open her up to a new world of aspirations, an improved sense of confidence, and a stronger feeling of mutual respect in your relationship as a whole.
Just be sure you don’t frame this conversation negatively. Rather than focusing on the limitations caused by privilege (or a lack thereof), use it as a tool to teach your children how to overcome these obstacles. There’s something to be said for honesty, but your goal should still always be to enhance what your daughter feels capable of rather than hinder it.
Don’t Gender Control Household Chores.
All too often, sons are taught to mow the lawn while daughters learn to cook and clean. Granted, this is occasionally due to the preference of one over the other. Still, gendering household chores can indirectly suggest that women aren’t capable of the same things as men and vice versa.
True equality isn’t always fun, so if you’re looking to set your daughters up with the capabilities necessary to care for themselves, holding them back from chores (whether or not they want to be) is a step in the wrong direction. So, when you assign a chore to your son, assign it to your daughter next time.
Don’t Adjust Your Parenting Style for Sons vs. Daughters.
One of the biggest faux pas parents adjusts their parenting style according to the gender of the child being parented. This subtly highlights a double standard that society sees all too often, and the hard truth is, we start it within our own homes.
For instance, a societal norm is to be stricter with daughters when dating than with sons. In truth, the list of double standards is overwhelmingly long. Still, the idea is that when we treat our sons differently than we do our daughters, we are (whether intentionally or not) suggesting that one requires different treatment than the other, thus suggesting inequality.
As such, we need to get to the root of the problem and cease the adjusted parenting model. If your son is allowed to date at age 12, your daughter should be as well. If your daughter can’t go to the movies without a chaperone, your son shouldn’t be able to, either. This doesn’t mean you have to let your girl go wild; instead, it might mean you are stricter with your son. You can go about this equal treatment however you choose.
The bottom line is that when your parenting style is equitable, you not only remove your daughter’s doubts about her capabilities but you also teach your son about mindfulness and equality. Just be sure to offer transparency into the process so that your decisions are understood and perceived as fair.
Promoting empowerment is trickier than it would appear on the surface, especially due to the innate negative assumption that comes with equality. Still, these steps are a great starting point to building a dialogue between you and your daughter so that you can ensure she feels capable without belittling her or pushing her away.