International Day of the Girl 2021: Raising strong girls

On the International Day of the Girl, the second in the pandemic, I am grateful for this day designated by the United Nations. It has given us a moment to step back and consider what we can do to raise our girls, and indeed all of our boys, amid a pandemic, social division, violence, and political unrest.

In tough times, how can we keep our eyes on the prize: raising healthy, resilient children who can grow into strong, loving adults who, as my mother says, can pay the rent?

“It’s easy for girls to get the message that their appearance matters above all else. What counts is inside,” said Damour, author of “Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girl,” by email.

“What counts is how smart, funny, kind, creative, and decent the girls are,” Damour said. “Focusing too much on the container, as the world would make girls do, steals time that could (and should!) Be devoted to cultivating the contents.”

What role do you want to play?

Don’t give in to social norms and expectations that are projected onto girls and women, advised Dr. Neha Chaudhary, a child, and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Those norms include gender pay gaps, not speaking first in meetings, or being the main housekeeper, we will continue to live in a world without change.

“I encourage girls around the world to think about what role they want to play in generational change and how they want to appear in the world differently from past generations. Find yourself a strong female role model and don’t be afraid to contradict yourself. asking too many questions or following your dreams. “

Make your home a ‘brave space’

“Self-confidence and assertiveness skills are interrelated,” Katie Hurley, child and adolescent therapist and author of “No More Mean Girls” and “The Happy Kid Handbook,” said by email.

“When girls feel empowered to speak out and share their feelings, thoughts, and ideas with others, they develop their self-confidence. The problem is that they need some self-confidence to take the first step.

“What parents can do is make sure that their home is lived as a courageous space for their daughter. When girls know that their parents are there to empathize and love them unconditionally, they find the strength to speak up. This is where they are Assertiveness skills are born and honed, in the courageous spaces where they feel empowered to stand up and speak. “

Showgirls how strong they are

“Too many of the girls I work with criticize their bodies,” psychologist John Duffy, author of “Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety,” said by email. “They see flaws and see their body’s purpose as a means of attraction.”

Tell your daughter you know how strong she is, Duffy said, specifically using the word “strong.”

“The word itself is powerful and meaningful,” he said.

“Teach them to see their body as to strength too. Encourage them to exercise, lift weights, and run. Do it with her if it motivates her. Let them see the agency they can exert on their body.”

Introduce your loved ones

The mother of CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen passed away 11 years ago. “I think about her every day, especially since I am now a mother myself with two young children, a boy, and a girl,” said Wen, an ER doctor and author of a new book: “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health “.

“There is so much I wish I could have told my mother, and I wish so much that she could have met my children.”

“On this International Day, I want to remind my children of all those people in their lives who are no longer here with us, but whose influence and legacy are a very important part of them. Now and for years to come, I want to tell my children all about my mother and the lessons she taught me, and soon, them too. “

Read together

Open your children’s minds to different ways of thinking and being in the world by reading to them, suggested child author Kate DiCamillo, whose notable books include “Because of Winn-Dixie” and “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.”

“I have been especially impressed by these lines from an essay (by Ursula K. Le Guin) entitled ‘The Operating Instructions,'” she wrote by email.

“‘What a child needs, what we all need, is to find other people who have imagined life in lines that make sense to us and allow us some freedom, and listen to them. Do not listen passively, listen. Listening is an act of community that occupies space, time, and silence. Reading is a way of listening ‘”.

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