The following are 10 of the most common mistakes parents make that leave girls feeling misunderstood, unsupported, and unloved.
- Parents don’t really listen: Girls tell me their parents do a lot of interrupting, judging, and fixing instead of just getting in their shoes, seeing things from their point of view and empathizing. They truly just want to be seen, heard, and understood, not fixed.
- Parents value achievement over character: Kids whose parents value achievement over character fare worse than kids whose parents value things like empathy, compassion, resilience, and integrity more than accomplishments.
- Parents don’t let girls solve their own problems: Once you listen and your daughter feels heard, ask her what she will do about the problem. Let her think for herself and come up with her own solutions. Resilience and grit are earned through working through challenges and being able to say, “I did it!”
- You tell her how great she is: When girls express their negative self-talk out loud, please don’t reassure them with a barrage of compliments. What they need first is to just be heard and then some help learning tools to redirect her limiting thoughts and to express her emotions in healthy ways.
- Overfocus on external qualities: Stop overfocusing on things like her appearance, beauty, grades, being the best, club sport teams, trophies, being popular, and looking good.
- Focus on ‘How do I motivate my daughter’ instead of ‘how I can help her find and support her intrinsic motivation’: don’t ask enough why questions about grades, interests, friends, college, activities
- Don’t respect when she says no: try to convince her to agree with us, ignore her (dad tickling her), try to push her to spend time with friend she’s moved on from, persuade her to stay in a sport she’s burned out from, respecting her boundaries is her 1st lessons on consent
- Parents are too reluctant to share their own stories: Girls tell me all the time that their parents, especially their dads, don’t ‘get them’ because they never went through what they are experiencing. Being vulnerable and sharing some of your challenging times growing up lets her know that you CAN understand her experiences and relate.
- Parents misinterpret girls’ rising need for independence to mean they aren’t needed anymore: No matter how hard girls seem to be pushing you away, they really do need you. Childhood is marked by a never-ending dance of kids going away and coming back. Adolescents do need more space and independence, but they also need you to remain their safe base for reassurance and guidance. But it needs to be at their behest, in their way, and in their time.
- Distracted: Parents are too often externally distracted with phones, work on computer and internally distracted with worries about work & money & elderly parents; kids feel unloved, not important or cared for, rejected
Give her a day: What shall you give to one small girl, a glamorous game, a tinseled toy? A girl scout knife, a puzzle pack? A train that runs on some curving track. A picture book, a real live pet? No, there’s plenty of time for such things yet. Give her a day for her very own, just one small girl and her dad alone. A walk in the woods, a romp in the park, a fishing trip from dawn to dark. Give her the gift that only you can, the companionship of her old man. Games are outgrown & toys will decay, but she’ll never forget if you give her a day.
For more information about best practices for parenting girls, especially in the areas of emotions and friendships, check out Dr. Jordan’s online parenting course, Parenting girls: The challenges girls face today with their feelings and friends and what they need