Lately I’ve been thinking about all of the things that I need to teach my daughters.
I have three of them, and they are growing up at the speed of light.
I read parenting articles, books, magazines and the Bible. I listen to sermons, go to conferences, attend a small group book study and visit any other place I think I might be able to glean a bit of mothering wisdom that I may have missed along the way.
Don’t get me wrong – in no way am I claiming to be all-knowing – I’m stumbling along the road of motherhood just like you are. But just in case you’re always looking for a second (or 22nd) opinion like I am, here is the first installment of some tips for raising daughters that I’ve collected over the past eight years. I hope they help you like they are helping me.
1. Read to her. Read everything you can get your hands on – Dr. Seuss, Mother Goose, Eric Carle, Steven Kellogg, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Tomie dePaola. Don’t forget about classical literature, either. My daughter loves things I once thought she was too young for – things like Greek mythology, Cleopatra and the Bible. Fill her mind with the beauty that her imagination can conjure up and let her see you reading for pleasure too. Show her that there is power in the written word.
2. Let her play dress up. Little girls seem to inherently love to wear pretty dresses and paint their nails. Let her. Who cares if she wears a fairy princess dress, a Superman cape and a Pocahontas wig to the grocery store? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so let her figure out what beauty is to her. Remind her that it’s what on the inside that counts, anyway.
3. Teach her how to love. Love her wildly and fiercely. Show her how to love without restraint, without conditions and without remorse. Love her dad, her brothers and sisters, her grandparents, her aunts and uncles and cousins. Don’t just say that you love them – let her see you loving them actively. Help people, do good deeds, pray for others in front of her. If she gets hurt or her heart gets broken, show her how to dust herself off and try again. She’s going to love the same way you do. Let her learn from your mistakes and your strengths. Teach her how to do it right.
4. Encourage her creativity. If she wants you to dance with her, dance. Dance, even if you’re like me and have no rhythm or even if you always have to be “the prince.” Twirl her around in your arms and let her dance on your feet. Let her sing to the top of her lungs and put on “a show,” whether it’s with an off-key ukulele or a whole bunch of magic tricks. Drag out the dreaded art supplies and let her make messes all over your kitchen table and grind Play-doh all over your floor. Give her Legos and popsicle sticks and a bunch of rocks and string and let her inner engineer take over. Let her try out your makeup, even if she ends up with bright red lips (and cheeks). Teach her that it’s fun to create – and that we all have creativity of some sort inside of us. You can have a clean kitchen when she’s gone off to college. Don’t be the way I struggle not to be. I sometimes obsess so much about messes that I miss great opportunities to bond and make memories (not to mention Sculpey clay figures.)
Next week, we’ll talk about politeness, independence, secrets and manners. If you have any tips for mothering a daughter, I’d love to hear them – and add them to my list.