The new year is a time of beginnings and often big (often pretty unrealistic) goals. This year, try something different with these simple but effective parenting resolutions.
Support her as she works to change the world (even if you don't agree with her views!)
Across the country, young people standing up for their beliefs are making headlines, sparking national conversations, and in some cases even getting laws changed to reflect what they think is right. If your girl is involved in these movements or has been vocal about some other issue, you might worry about her being seen as "disruptive" or too "opinionated," but it's important to recognize that it takes courage and character to speak out against the status quo—even if you don't agree with her views.
Make sure she knows she doesn't owe anyone her attention or affection
No matter what a person wears, where she goes, who she talks to, or what other choices she’s made—being sexually assaulted is never her fault. No one should ever feel guilty about saying no to unwanted physical contact, even if that person has a crush on her, is popular, has bought her something, or if they’ve had physical contact in the past. Additionally, your girl should know that she can come to you for help if someone has made her feel uncomfortable or has violated her boundaries. Many people who’ve experienced harassment or sexual violence feel ashamed about what’s happened to them and worry they’ve played a part in the assault, but it’s vital that your girl understands she would never be judged when coming to you for help.
Let her navigate social situations on her own
The inclination to be by your daughter's side at other kids' parties or even in the school lunchroom comes from a loving place, but the fact is, time away from you can be super valuable and enriching. It's important for your girl can test her independence, explore her personality, learn about others, and navigate the social landscape. Sometimes she’ll be successful, and sometimes she won’t—but if her parent is there, watching her every interaction, or even keeping her separate from the larger group, she’s missing out on rich opportunities to grow.
Give her some super STEMinist role models
Think about the books your daughter reads and the movies she watches. What roles do girls and women play? If they have jobs, what kind of work do they do? When there are scientists, builders, or tech geniuses featured in a story, do they tend to be male or female? From kid-friendly books about astronaut Mae Jemison and architect Zaha Hadid to inspiring documentaries about primatologist Jane Goodall and computer scientist Grace Hopper, there are tons of wonderful books, movies, and online videos featuring amazing women in STEM. Ask your local librarian if you need help finding them, and diversify her role models, STAT.
Tread lightly with selfie filters Some filters, like the puppy one with the funny nose, are just good fun. But the filters and photo-editing apps that claim to improve her looks are essentially telling her there’s something about her appearance that isn’t good enough, something that’s wrong and needs fixing. And if her filtered selfies get more likes and positive feedback on her social networks than her unedited photos—which is often the case—that can reinforce the idea that this other “fantasy” version of herself is better.
Get mindful about social media Suggest that your girl starts asking herself why she’s posting something before she posts. Her everyday moments (yes, even silly selfies at the ice cream shop!) are precious and personal. Does she think it’s important or helpful for others to see these images—will they brighten others’ days or give them something to think about, or is she posting in hopes of getting approval from the world? Why does she need others, including strangers, to like what she’s posted? Is it not enough that she likes it herself? Talk to your daughter early and often about this issue. You’re unlikely to get her to stop sharing about her life entirely—and there’s no need for that—but getting her to do some critical thinking here can make a big difference.