There may be no better time to raise a girl than now. Her future is big, bright and powerful. As the generation that’s raising her, our job is to empower each one to find her voice, her purpose and her power — to be who she was born to be, her authentic self.
And her authentic self has big plans. A 2017 survey of 1,000 kids by New York Life and Fatherly found girls are about four times more likely to say they want to be a doctor than boys. Girls were even more likely to say they want to be in a STEM field, with 56.6 percent of girls choosing it, compared to 43.3 percent of boys. Because girls tend to experience a dip in self-esteem between eight and 14, we need to instill a few traits, superpowers really, that will help her not only become who she is meant to be, but also achieve her goals and lift others up along the way.
For guidance and inspiration, we asked nine superwomen of today what traits they hope to instill in the superwomen of tomorrow. With a little love and a lot of big dreams, they can become what we know they were born to be — unstoppable.
Kindness is one of the first things we learn, but it’s so easy to forget. It’s why Veronica Hanson, owner of Vacay Visionary, works overtime to show her daughters what kindness looks like around the world. “I’ve taken my daughters to seven countries to get a first-hand look at how other societies treat their citizens. How a community is shaped starts with kindness,” Hanson says. “My daughters see it in the cleanliness of the sidewalks or the courtesy of the drivers to pedestrians. Where there is more kindness, there is a better quality of life for every level of society.”
The ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes is a world-expanding skill. And one of the best ways to cultivate it is to get out of your comfort zone, go out into the world, and be around as many different types of people as possible.“My 16-year-old works in a breakfast restaurant, and I’ve seen her empathy strengthened by the people she works with and the situations she’s encountered,” says Amy Carney, author of Parent on Purpose: A Courageous Approach to Raising Children in a Complicated World. “I also take her to serve in our community and on overseas mission trips, so she can experience the real world.”
Where there is kindness and empathy, there is generosity. Generosity is the ability to understand what you have, see what others need, and respond accordingly in whatever way you can. The girls’ clothing brand Justice values giving back, and it is working to instill generosity in girls every day. Its new event and video streaming program The Summit: A Girl’s View celebrates three core principles — self, teamwork and community — by exploring topics like finding your unique strength, identifying the friends you can count on, and giving and receiving help, empowering girls with the skills they need to give back.
Watch episodes of The Summit: A Girl’s View on the Justice YouTube channel. New episodes stream on Saturday mornings.
The instinct to ask “how come?” or “what if?” is a powerful one. Kathy Taberner, cofounder of The Curiosity Institute, calls it the “unsung hero of the 21st century.”
As the world becomes more and more connected, it’s become smaller and smaller, making it more important than ever to appreciate the unique perspective each of us offers, but we need curiosity to do that. “If we do not begin to get curious, to understand each other, we will not build the relationships needed to ensure we are all of equal value on the planet,” she tells SheKnows. “Everyone should be able to thrive.”
Courage of Conviction
Is there anything more fierce than a woman who knows what she believes and believes what she knows? Not to Angela Wilson Gyetvan, founder of Digital Whisper, whose wish for girls is to have courage of their convictions — and not be afraid to raise their voices to defend those them. “I want them to know that it’s OK to want what they want; that ambition in women is a blessing, and that it takes all of our gifts to elevate the human race.”
This is the foundation on which so many of the other traits listed here are built. Self-confidence is what gives us the strength to live authentically. To Jill Sylvester, LMHC, M.Ed., self-confidence takes the shape of trusting your intuition, listening to your inner voice and acting on its wisdom. “That way, when a girl makes a decision, she needs explain it to no one; she simply knows the right thing to do for herself and her well-being.”
Assertiveness is a trait that builds on self-confidence, and it is essential to standing up for yourself and others. “Assertiveness will enable our daughters to speak up when something wrong or unjust happens. It is the ability to express oneself openly, honestly, respectfully and, most importantly firmly, so that the listener gets a clear message and change can happen,”Dr. Tapo Chimbganda, founder of Future Black Female, tells SheKnows. “It will help them advocate for themselves and others, become better communicators and leaders, and protect them from bullies, opportunists, misogynists, predators and jerks.”
“Determination is the ability to focus on a goal, even in the face of danger or other tough challenges,” says career counselor and coach Lynn Berger. Helping girls develop their own determination starts with us. “Watching others, having positive role models and a sense of purpose can help build determination.”
None of the above traits are possible without self love. “It is critical in the development of compassionate, grounded, loving beings,” Nyaima Taylor, co-creator of Art & Alchemy, tells SheKnows. “It minimizes the negative effects of feeling unworthy. It provides a foundation for the full, authentic expression of the self. Self love is the gateway to self-worth.”
This post was created by SheKnows for Justice.
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