Want your daughter to grow up to be a confident and strong adult?
1. Let go of your assumptions and listen.
Holding your mind open can be a challenge, especially when conversations are peppered throughout your busy day. But if you really want your daughter to develop a sense of confidence and strength, let her know that her words matter. Her voice will be heard. Her communications are clear. Tune-in and understand what she is telling you. When you listen, it teaches her that she has an important voice.
2. Hand over control.
You’ve had years more experience than your daughter. It can be tempting to micromanage her decisions. “Take this class, not that one.” “Go here, not there.” But don’t. Show your confidence by allowing her to manage day-to-day decisions that you know she is ready for. As an insider in the school or the peer group, maybe she knows something you don’t. Those friends you like? Maybe they're starting to make trouble. The class you think will help her get ahead? Maybe it has an inexperienced teacher, or just isn’t a good fit for the direction she’s going. Giving her control teaches her she can make sound decisions.
3. Say: “I trust you” and mean it.
When your daughter makes a choice for herself, gather yourself and shake off your doubts, and tell her that you trust her judgment. And mean it. Your daughter knows when you’re not confident in her. Show her that you are. She’s got this, and you know it. Trusting her teaches her that she can trust herself.
4. Accept responsibility for your mistakes.
You won’t always be a perfect parent, and that’s okay. Kids can tell when you mess up. If you want your daughter to trust herself, tell the truth when you screw up. Admit your flaws, and say your apologies. Watching you do so will show her how to cope with her own imperfections, but what’s more, it will show her that her perception that you made a mistake in the first place was spot on. Admitting when you are wrong teaches her that she has intuitions she can trust, and that it’s okay to have flaws.
5. Don’t let fear guide your parenting decisions.
Having a daughter can evoke strong feelings. Maybe you want to protect her. Maybe you’re worried about her future. But if you want her to feel strong and confident, work these feelings out on your own. Allowing your fears to leak into your decisions with your daughter will undermine her belief that she can do anything. Parenting without fear teaches her that there is nothing to be afraid of.