Parents Encouraging Girls

After several appointments with parents over the last few weeks concerning their daughters, I thought I’d share a collection of advice about young women. I am not a counselor but try to offer direction to parents of girls through a developmental and sociological lens.

1) Parents discuss with your daughter that there has always been pressure for women to have “perfect” bodies, but it has never been more unhealthy or intense. Ask her “Is there more acceptance of men’s different body types?” It is healthier if a girl sees the inequity rather than feels inadequate about not living up to an impossible body ideal.

Mom: think about how you talk about your own body.

Dad: consider how you talk about your wife’s, daughter’s, and other women’s bodies.

2) Limit or disallow beauty reality shows, beauty magazines, and say ‘no’ to watching beauty pageants. Media has a way of speaking louder than any amount

3) Focus on the strength, power, and unique capabilities of your daughter and other women, rather than on appearance. Display a picture of your daughter showing physical exuberance, power, or bravery. For example, jumping into the water, holding a frog or snake, reeling in a fish, whacking a ball. Place it where she will see it often.

4) All sports are good for girls, but parents should be aware that the risk of eating disorders is somewhat higher among judged sports (figure skating, cheering, dance, and gymnastics) than the refereed sports (tennis, soccer, softball, and lacrosse).

5) Most importantly, assert yourself if a family member or friend makes a sexist comment about you, your daughter, or other women.  Say why it is wrong or harmful.

If you have other thoughts or advise to help me encourage parents with girls, please email andy@andystoker.com.

Rev. Andy Stoker    , PhD

Associate Minister

Lilly Resident

(214) 220-2727 ext 222

1928 Ross Ave.

Dallas Texas   75201

3 comments

  1. Brittney Schrick

    Excellent and simple advice that can be implemented on a daily basis. This, of course, needs to start even earlier than youth. It’s very difficult to undo years of negativity that may have been experienced by a youth who was a “chubby kid” or who may have been teased for being in some way “not ideal”. One good open door moment is to discuss normal body changes when talking to a daughter about going through puberty. It is normal for a girl’s body to change and become rounder, but that takes them farther from the ideal.

    Thanks for writing this and sharing it with youth workers! We can be an important sounding board and source of encouragement for our girls!

  2. Mary Beth Taylor

    Thanks, Andy! Easy info to implement.
    My youth parents are pleased!

  3. Andy,
    I was so lucky to find you via our GHUMC youth group link. These pertinent pieces of advice are very timely for me as a mother of a 10 1/2 yr. old daughter. I’m so glad she is a soccer player and extremely active, gaining a lot of her self confidence through her athletic abilities and not focused on “how she looks”.
    I hope and pray we can keep our open line of communication going through the teen years. Lots of luck right?
    So good to see your face and hear your voice in this article.
    Michelle Stroescu

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