Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik has seven powerful “secrets” to share about parenting girls.
They will help today’s parents the create the strong, independent, amazing women of the future.
One of three children born to working-class parents, Wojtalik says she struggled to break free from negative, gender-biased parental and societal messages, and the fear of failure, to eventually earn a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. (Read her story here)
I stumbled upon Wojtalik’s site and downloaded her FREE (gotta love free stuff that’s GREAT!), e-book The Seven Secrets of Parenting Girls. As I read through the short, simple book, I wished my parents had had the benefit of Wojtalik’s sage advice.
Her seven secrets just make HUGE sense to me. And I think that parenting young girls in the way she suggests will help people raise healthier, happier daughters who will be better equipped to lead successful lives.
Here’s a brief synopsis of what she says:
Secret #1: Brand Early
Children are what we say they are. Begin now to take every opportunity to inform
your daughter of her strengths. She will view herself as you view her. Send messages of self-confidence and heartiness: “You are smart.” “You are strong.” “You can do anything.” “You can be anything.” Your words will become her beliefs. One caution about praise: be matter of fact, be genuine, and don’t over inflate her.
Secret #2: Promote Independence
Encourage your daughter to do for herself and to try new challenges. Continue to send messages of strength: “You can do this.” “You can figure this out.” Teach her to manage money, to fix things, to camp, to enjoy math and science, to play ball, to golf, to throw, to make a go-cart, to build a tree house, to play chess, to use tools, to paddle a canoe, etc. She will grow to learn that she is capable of doing anything.
Secret #3: Promote Thinking
Parents have a responsibility to teach their daughters to think. Ask them questions. “What do YOU think about that?” “Why do you think that happened?” “That answer is correct. How did you figure that out?” By questioning, praising, and probing you will help your daughter sharpen her ideas, refine her thinking, learn to express her opinions, value her intelligence and achieve more.
Secret #4: Promote Learning
No matter what a girl’s age it’s important to encourage her to learn. Read together about important things. Read about active, hearty females. Read about women inventors, artists, and writers. Read about women in leadership. Every time a girl opens a book and reads about an active, adventuresome male or a womanless historical account, she learns that she is worth less…. Promote learning about powerful women. (Read about some of them here: Role Models, Stories & Adventures)
Secret #5: Promote Education
Do not allow your daughter the opportunity not to choose education. Frame your
conversations with her about her future with expectations of higher education. “When you
go to college…” “When you study hard and become a successful woman…” Do not, and I
repeat, do not say “If you go to college”. This gives an option. Teach early that college
follows high school. Enough said.
Secret #6: Promote Open Career Options
Show your daughter that females can and do select careers in all fields. Point this out whenever you can. “Did you notice that the doctor is a woman?” “Sarah’s mom is a lawyer. What do you think about that?” “A woman ran for president. What do you think about that?” Let your daughter know that she can choose what she wants to do. Encourage math and science fields. Read about women in these fields.
Secret #7: Promote Awareness
Help your daughter become aware of gender bias. Girls need to recognize it in order to respond to it. Pose questions to her about fairness. “Do you think only girls should do the dishes?” Get her thinking about and noticing when people make her feel inadequate or uncomfortable. Encourage her to speak up and speak out. Teach by example. When you see gender bias happening, politely call attention to it.
Read more in the e-book and in Wojtalik’s emails which you can also sign up for when you download the e-book. The follow-up emails expand on the seven secrets with useful ideas and information (and no, I’m NOT getting paid to say all this, I just think what she says makes so much sense…).