Mothers and Daughters – Building Self-esteem

The young girls of the world today have so many possibilities open to them. Times have changed so dramatically that girls have more choices than ever before to develop their talents, set goals, plan a great future and even more. The last time females of the species had so many choices was many thousands of years ago when they were considered to be the ‘feminine divine’; over time this power was taken away, and in the recent past treated like second class citizens, so, we have come a long way.

Girls today may follow their hearts and do what they want – anything – if they want to be a truck driver, then so be it. As wonderful as it is to have all these choices, it can be confusing to have to reach out and make decisions. Making all the right choices is vitally important and that’s why mothers teaching daughters to be young women is so important too. This is the time that a mom (and dad) need to deeply rely on their parenting skills to help daughters develop good self-esteem as well as other admirable qualities.

No-one is born with good self-esteem although children have more ‘natural’ good self-esteem than adults. The price that is paid for low self esteem in young girls today is high, and despite the incredible opportunities that life presents, girls are more susceptible to conditions such as eating disorders and depression. In comparison to adolescent boys of the same age – the adolescent girl, is more at risk to abuse drugs and/or alcohol. They are more likely to drop out of school, are even more likely to commit suicide, and while we are speaking of committing suicide; there are millions of teenage girls every year who find themselves pregnant.  Something that is completely unnecessary in this day and age of birth control.

Helping your daughter to become a young lady with good self-esteem starts from the moment they are born, and continues for the rest of their life. In a safe, loving and nurturing environment they will thrive, and the first three years of life are pivotal in achieving this goal. During the first three years of life, daughters develop the most significant social, emotional and intellectual abilities. They are curious and persistent, and learn everything they need with regards to compassion and confidence. Feeding positively into this, will provide her with everything she requires to grow up with good self-esteem and the ability to relate well with others.

There are many peer and other pressures on the young girls of today – pressures which find them competing for boys, achieving, fitting in and living up to the expectations of society. If your daughter has good self-esteem – feels pretty, socially accepted, talented and popular at home – she will have all the self-worth she needs. All they need is good guidance and encouragement from mom to help discover true gifts.

It is principal as a parent to reinforce a daughter’s confidence as you also start to let go. Teach her to be true to herself, and listen to what they tell you. We all have dreams for our daughters, but it is more important that they have dreams of their own, and are allowed to pursue them. It is crucial to respect their thoughts, feelings and ideas even though mistakes may be made along the way. It pays to remember that we learn important lessons from making mistakes, just remember when your daughter learned to walk and discovered balance. While you were able to offer assistance, there was no way you could learn to walk for her.

Dr. Wendy M. O’Connor is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Professional Life Coach, Media Consultant, loving wife & parent of an amazing teenager.