When I initially offered to write a blog on the topic of strong girls, the first thing that came to mind was to offer advice on how to ‘handle’ strong willed girls. I have one of those. My eldest seems to be a perfect combination of both a strong will and stubbornness, which she gets from my husband and me (though I won’t reveal as to who possesses which, or both!).
But on further contemplation, I’ve decided to instead offer encouragement to all mothers of daughters. Because I think at the end of the day we would love for all of our daughters to grow up to be strong.
I believe that being strong can be a blessing, when used for good. You may not feel this way when you’re standing in the middle of the shopping centre with a screaming 4-year-old, who refuses to leave without the toy she wants. Or when your daughter seems to argue with you about everything, and won’t give in, even though she knows that you are right.
My daughter’s year 1 teacher wrote something on her class certificate that I will never forget. She commented that God had given my daughter a great strength, and that she couldn’t wait to see what would come from it. This was the first time that someone had seen the strength in my daughter as a positive thing. All I had witnessed was years of battles, arguments and tears.
This observation made me realise that I’m glad my daughter has a strong will. It means that when she makes up her mind, she will stick to it. That she is able to make decisions, have an opinion and choose a direction. It also means that she will be less easily swayed by her peers.
It also requires a great deal of parenting and training. My daughter needs to be taught that even though other people’s opinions may differ to her own, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong. She needs to know that obedience to those in positions of authority may sometimes be necessary even when she doesn’t want to. She needs to learn to respect others, be flexible, and compromise.
My second daughter is different. She is intelligent, kind and always wants to please and do the right thing. She is also indecisive and tends to follow what others say or do. She needs training and encouragement to learn to make her own decisions and stand up for herself and what she knows is right, even if her friends say or do something different. She needs to develop independence and strength of character. Because I want her to grow into a strong woman, who knows who she is, and what she wants to do.
Perhaps you have a daughter who sounds similar to one of mine. Or perhaps your daughter is a force unto herself. Either way, we are privileged to be raising the next generation of strong women, even on the hard days, when we are in the midst of battle.
Be encouraged, fellow mothers, that even though it can be challenging, it’s worth raising our girls to be strong. Strong women know who they are, and are not easily swayed by the world. They are future leaders and world changers. Every strong girl can grow to be respectful, empathetic and flexible. And every girl, regardless of their personality type, can learn to be sure of who they are, to make their own decisions and to choose the right path.
It starts at home and it starts with us as their mothers. Because mothering matters. And better mums make a better world.