Strong Women Raising Strong Children
Ask a strong woman about her greatest influences in life. Chances are, she will tell you that her own mother is at the top of the list.
Studies show that the biggest indicator of a girl’s future success is having a strong mother figure in her life. For centuries, these are the women who have made history. We could say that strong girls stand on the shoulders of the strong women that came before them.
And it’s not just girls whose lives are shaped by phenomenal women. Successful, secure, and emotionally healthy men also claim strong mothers as influencing their attitudes toward the world. Boys who are raised by resilient, loving mothers grow up with deeper respect for the rights and roles of women in the world, have healthier relationships, and achieve greater success in life.
What exactly makes a woman “strong,” and what does this have to do with raising “strong” children? Obviously, we’re not talking about muscular strength, but a strength that comes from the soul and spirit. It is housed in the heart, where belief in one’s own worth is born. True strength is about confidence in oneself, kindness toward others, and courage to stand up for what’s right. These women are proud of their own wins, and they equally celebrate the successes of others.
So what are some things you can do today to raise strong boys and girls?
- Start early. Even the tiniest babies are people, and worthy of respect. Show our littlest ones that you respect their boundaries and personal space. A simple way to do this is simply to narrate your actions to them. “Can Mommy pick you up?” “We’re going to change your diaper now, so let’s get that onesie off!” “Are you ready for your bath?” Doing so show them that you have respect for their personhood and teaches them to have respect for themselves, too.
- Avoid antiquated and polarizing stereotypes, especially when it comes to toys and play. Boys can play with dolls and play-act being nurturing daddies. Girls can play with trucks, tool playsets, and other toys traditionally thought of as “boy” toys. Kids gain confidence when their play shows them more options of how men and women can be in the world.
- Watch your own self-talk, especially in front of your children. By the age of 13, over 50% of girls have negative thoughts about how they look. Even 5- to 8-year-olds who think their moms are unhappy with their bodies are more likely to be dissatisfied with their own bodies. You can model positive self-image for your daughters by focusing on health rather than weight, and on what our bodies can do, not how they look.
- Pursue your dreams and interests. Children are sponges and are inspired by what they see their parents do. You can set a wonderful example for them by working toward something you believe in, whether it’s in your day-to-day work, or by pursuing a personal interest or passion. When your child sees you as someone who makes a difference in the world, it reinforces for them that they too can be a change-maker.
- Set an example through your words and actions. As we said before, children take their cues from us. Let your child hear you praise others for a job well done. Let them hear you admit your mistakes and apologize for wrongdoings. Show them the kindness and respect that you hope to see them enact in the world.
March is Women’s History Month which celebrates the resilience, courage, intelligence, and dedication of the women who have changed our world through their actions, discoveries, and contributions. It is a celebration of the influences – both seen and unseen – of all women, whether their names are mentioned in the history books or not.
When women live in their own strength, they set an example for the children in their life of what is possible. They inspire boys and girls to pursue their own dreams and lift up those around them. The future gets brighter as positive attitudes, kindness, and courage are instilled in our kids. And someday, it will be they who shoulder the next generation of history-makers.