The last time we went to the movies, my daughter overheard something that made her blood boil. The young man seated next to her had brought a date. During the film, he repeatedly remarked about how “hot” the leading lady in the movie was, following up his observation by asking his date why she couldn’t look more like said leading lady. After the movie, all my daughter could do was shake her head, and say, “That’s not how you treat a lady. He had no respect, and that girl had no self-respect. She shouldn’t put up with that nonsense.” I agreed. But, as always, I wanted to dive deeper into the issue. When things like this happen, where are we going wrong in teaching teenage girls the value of self-respect?
Teenage Girls and Self-Respect versus Self-Gratification
It’s hard to say exactly how many girls today suffer from low self-esteem or self-esteem related issues, however, survey numbers alone are ghastly. Girls with these issues often overcompensate for low self-esteem by dressing provocatively, acting older than what they are, getting involved with drugs and alcohol and are more likely to be pressured into a sexual relationship. One might argue (and I would be the one to make such an argument) that low self-esteem is the lynchpin for many problems the women of today face, and that low self-esteem stems from a basic lack of self-respect, which ties directly into self-gratification. Essentially, the girl will do whatever it takes to be happy right now, in the now, with little regard to the consequences.
My Answer for Teenage Girls
My only answer to the parenting experts, the life coaches and the self-esteem gurus out there who would come up with list after list of items to hit on to improve self-esteem in teenage girls would be the tried and true (I have three girls, by the way) methods I used.
Teach them how to love themselves, as themselves, no matter what.
Be strong. Teach your daughter how to be strong; teach her how to say no.
Remember that your daughter needs a positive male role model in her life; someone who doesn’t praise them for looks, but rather, for accomplishments.
Be physically active and help your daughter get physically active; those athletic endorphins do more than we realize for self-esteem — and everything else too.
Talk. Often and about everything. Get ice cream. Walk the dog. Enjoy your daughter.
If I have learned one thing about teaching girls how to respect themselves it’s this: Teaching your daughter the value of self-respect can mean the difference between having the daughter with the sleazy boyfriend at the movies, or having the daughter who is shaking her head afterward. And the second one makes for a happier daughter.
How do you teach your daughter to respect herself?
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