Being a woman in today's world is more challenging than ever. So is raising a woman. And, when that woman starts out as your little girl, it is imperative that you instill in her the strength and knowledge to be self-sufficient.
You may have heard about the 10-year-old girl who was bit by an alligator, but had the wits about her to recall a visit that she took to a Gatorland in Florida, where she learned what to do during an alligator bite. That little girl stuck her fingers in the nostrils of the gator who released his grip on her leg and let her go. This girl has recovered from the incident and she is the perfect example of a young girl being self-sufficient.
Here are 10 life skills that are of the utmost importance if you want to raise your daughter to be self-dependent.
1. Teach her how to make her own honest money
Your daughter needs to know and believe that she is intelligent enough to make her own money and to not depend on any partner to do that for her. She needs to understand the importance of making her own money and how to make it in an honest way. You need to teach her about saving, spending and about how to sustain the life she wants on the money she earns.
2. Teach her how to change a tire and understand the mechanics of her car
Your daughter should know how to change their own tire. Getting stuck on the side of a road is almost inevitable; it will likely happen to everyone at some point. Although AAA is super nice to have and a convenient way to get aid with car trouble, you want your daughter to be capable of changing that tire, in a pinch, if ever one arises. Instruct her on the basic mechanics of her car as well, as it is more than likely she will typically be haggled with at any visit to a car repair shop.
3. Teach her that inner beauty is way more important than outer beauty
With so many reality shows setting horrible standards for how women should look, act and behave, you need to be the voice of reason and truth. Make sure that your daughter understands the importance of a good heart, a steady moral compass and an unwavering set of values. It is so easy for girls to lose their self-worth to these unrealistic depictions of women including, but not limited to, the models and actresses they see in magazines and on TV.
4. Teach her how to defend herself
You need and want your daughter to be able to defend herself from any person looking to physical hurt her. Teach her the basics of self-defense and then enroll her in a class for further training. Additionally, as the story above makes apparent, you also need to teach her the tactics she needs to defend herself against animals (bears, alligators, sharks, wolves, etc.)
5. Teach her how to engage in banter
Being able to banter back and forth with other people is an important part of social interaction inside and outside of the workplace. It is important for your daughter to know how and when to sound intelligent, how and when to bicker respectfully and how and when to use sarcasm and humor. If you raise your daughter to be intelligent and respectful, but also how to communicate socially with others, she will be able to hold her own in any conversation and social situation.
6. Teach her about discrimination
There is a strong chance that in her lifetime, she will be discriminated against; be it for being a woman or for the color of her skin or for the type of career path she has chosen. Tell your daughter what discrimination is and provide examples. Additionally, you should role play with her to teach her how to deal with discrimination. Educate her on her options for fighting discrimination, if/when she encounters it.
7. Teach her how to say "No."
This is so very important for a myriad of reasons. Your daughter needs to know how to say "no" to any unwanted sexual advances. She should also be encouraged to proactively say "no" when she does not want to do something. Saying "no" is something that is very hard for a lot of women, as it leads us to experiencing guilty feelings. Teach your daughter that she should feel no guilt when saying "no" and that saying "no" is actually an important part of figuring out herself and what she wants/does not want out of life and from different people. Make sure your daughter also feels comfortable saying "no" to conversations and behavior that go against her values.
8. Teach her what real love should be like
You can imagine how important this one is. And you know the best way to show you what real love is like? By example. Your daughter will learn so much about relationships from watching you. Emphasize for her what real love is not - real love is not possessive and it is not threatening or overbearing.
9. Teach her how to think for herself
When our daughters are younger, we involuntarily, or sometimes voluntarily, encourage them to think like us. We try to push our opinions on to them with regard to small issues (i.e. what clothes to wear, how to wear their hair, who their friends are) and with bigger issues (what to study in school, who to vote for, etc). This is not what we should be doing. Although we can be their guide, we need and want our children to have their own mindset, opinion and perspective on things. We have to encourage our daughters to think independently and to voice those thoughts. Always be your daughter's safe space - where she can have the freedom and comfort to share her thoughts, out loud and without judgment or ridicule.
10. Teach her that you will always be there for her
Of utmost importance to your daughter - whether she knows it right now or not - is that she believes that you, her parent(s) will unconditionally be by her side, on her side and there to help and support her, in anyway, when she cannot find the self-sufficiency to get by on her own.
It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings." - Ann Landers
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Nicole Merritt's website. It has been republished here with permission.