How to Nurture your Daughter's Strengths and Individuality:
I’ll admit I always dreamed of having a little girl that I could dress up in pretty little dresses and be a little mini me. But, little Steely Rose was born with a strength and fierceness that truly fits her name. From the moment she was born, she's been teaching me about the mom I’d need to be for her.
Growing up in a Southern family we were taught that a great deal of a girl's power lies in her appearance. It was very important to be well kept, beautiful and feminine. However, I see my daughter Steely's allure in her strength, athleticism and individuality. Is there anything more attractive than someone who is comfortable in their own skin?
Steely is 6 yrs old and the youngest sister of two rowdy boys. She learned quickly she had to keep up and speak up in order to make her mark in our family. The days of playing with dolls and wearing cute Bohemian dresses that Britt and I adorned her with were short numbered. It seems like yesterday when Steely was 3 years old and received her first Golden State Warriors basketball uniform from her dad. She wore it for a year and a half straight. At this point, the uniform resembled a crop top and hot pants. It was time to pack it away. I thought for sure she’d go back to the girlie clothes and the boy phase would stay in the past. Well, that wasn’t the case at all. Dick’s Sporting Goods was our shopping spot. This maybe could have flown with me had my daughter wanted to buy clothing from the sporty girl section but no, not my kid. She wanted to shop in the the sporty boy section or not at all. One day, I tried pleading with Steely and did my best to coax her toward the girl clothes, but my girl knew what she liked and that was that. In that moment I caught myself. I was ashamed by my thoughts and behavior. When had I become a typical old school Southern bell mom trying to make my daughter look the “so called part”? I told myself, “stop controlling her….who cares…love that she knows what she wants.” From that day forward I have embraced her style and I focus on how to support her individuality. She has taught me that you can create your own unique beauty with whatever you wear as long as you feel confident and you're being true to yourself. Now, this doesn’t mean that when Easter rolls around I won't try to sneak a pretty Bohemian dress in her closet and hope by some miracle she’ll wear it, because I do. But then my daughter will come stomping down the hall saying, “mom let me be who I am and wear what makes me feel good” and I'm schooled by her wisdom yet again. Old voices and habits can be hard for me to overcome but they're no match for my daughters will and spirit.
I learned to not only embrace her style but her strengths…I truly believe that God gives us all magical gifts and it's up to us, as parents, to help our kids find it, and then nurture it. Steely is coordinated, physically strong, outspoken and very competitive. Instead of ignoring these wonderful talents and continuing on with ballet because it’s what girls do, we threw those slippers to the wind and focused on nurturing her strengths and enormous amount of energy. Basketball, football, soccer - you name it - she wants to do it. Most of her teammates are all boys and she doesn’t even notice or care. Her dad and I feel like as long as she can keep up, more power to her.
Letting your daughter choose her friends is something I believe is very important on shaping confidence and independence. Steely’s crew of friends are 99% boys and I think, why not? They can have pink hair, no hair, wear their clothes backwards or be all boys. I always let Steely gravitate to friends that feel right to her. As long as they're kind and make Steely feel good then my husband and I are on board. It's good practice and will serve her well later in life when choosing friends. She’ll have the self-assurance that she’s making the right friendships without needing any approval or guidance.
Your daughters voice matters. Don’t suppress your rock star. Let her have a voice to speak from the heart and feel fully self expressed. Many of us want our kids to just obey and not question anything. I grew up watching everyone hold men's thoughts and opinions in the highest regards. Women were taught to listen more than talk. Now, I know better. I know that women are just as smart and deserving to have a voice! Steely has always been outspoken and ready to voice her thoughts and opinions. I love her passion and even though it can be exhausting at times I know this will be an incredible strength for her. I want my daughter to know that her voice and opinions really matter. I want her to feel comfortable taking up space. There's nothing like a woman who can speak her mind….ha!!! Her future husband, G-d bless him.
It’s it's interesting, I used to think Steely wanted people to think she was a boy and maybe she secretly did. But now, I think she just wants people to just see Steely and be completely herself. Isn't that what we all really want? She’s not worried what the other girls think or say. I'm filled with such joy knowing she loves who she is and pray that never changes.
I’m so thankful I’ve learned to hold space for Steely while she discovers and defines who she is in this world. I know we have many more years ahead, but I’m loving the journey we’re on and excited to see the bad ass woman she becomes. And if she decides to wear a bowtie or a Warrior jersey to the finish line, I'll be the loud one in the Bohemian dress rooting her on from the sidelines!
I hope this has inspired you to be the best mom, aunt, uncle, friend, or grandparent.
The Sweet Collection xo by Brittany + Cynthia Daniel