Who run the world? Why, girls, of course — at least according to the great philosopher Beyoncé. And as she so succinctly pointed out in an interview with Elle, raising the next generation of women with grit isn’t limited to just moms: “If you are a man who believes your daughter should have the same opportunities and rights as your son, then you’re a feminist. We need men and women to understand the double standards that still exist in this world, and we need to have a real conversation so we can begin to make changes. Ask anyone, man or woman, ‘Do you want your daughter to have 75 cents when she deserves $1?’ What do you think the answer would be?”
Beyoncé is raising two daughters herself, and realizes the importance of changing the world for them — but also, the importance of teaching our girls that they shouldn’t change for the world. Gone are the days when women were expected to be seen and not heard, shrinking-violet types whose rightful place was limited to the home. And though we’ve come a long way from those antiquated ideals, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to equality.
Luckily, we’re teaching our daughters to use their voices and to speak up for themselves — and others — unabashedly. To go for whatever goal they have in mind, and to shatter glass ceilings. To demand a rightful place at any table. And these celebrity parents of daughters have all used their platforms to speak out about how they’re raising their girls to be confident and shine brightly.
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
A version of this article was originally published on March 2023.
In a recent interview with People, Vanessa Bryant called all four of her daughters “strong, resilient, respectful and kind,” adding, “They’re people that I would aspire to be if I was growing up with them.”
Vanessa and Kobe have daughters named Natalia, 20, Gianna, 13, Bianka, 6, and Capri, 3. Tragically, Kobe and Gianna passed away suddenly on Jan. 26, 2020.
Beyoncé & Jay-Z
Beyoncé & Jay-Z hired reportedly hired a confidence coach when daughter Blue Ivy was small, and it seems to have paid off. In a 2018 guest appearance on David Letterman’s show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, Jay-Z proudly explained how Blue — just 6 years old at the time — wasn’t afraid to shut down a conversation where she felt disrespected.
“I told her get in the car the other day because she was asking a thousand questions and we had to leave for school,” he said. “So we’re driving and I just hear a little voice, and I turn around. She said, ‘Dad, I didn’t like when you told me to get in the car, the way you told me’ — she’s 6 — ‘It hurt my feelings.’”
Blake Lively & Ryan Reynolds
With three daughters (and possibly a fourth — we haven’t yet been privy to learning the sex of their fourth baby), Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively know a thing or two about raising strong women … and it starts with how they talk to their kids.
“My husband was like, ‘Why do I always say he?’ And I said, ‘That’s what we’re taught.’ So he’ll pick up, like a caterpillar, and instead of saying, ‘What’s his name?’ he’ll say, ‘What’s her name?’ Or we’ve joked that my daughter is bossy. But my husband said, ‘I don’t ever want to use that word again. You’ve never heard a man called bossy,'” Lively told Glamour in 2017. “”There would never be any negative connotation for a man being a boss, so to add a negative connotation on a woman being bossy? It’s belittling. And it doesn’t encourage them to be a boss.”
Charlize Theron exclusively told SheKnows in 2022 that she’s determined to let her daughters August, 7, and Jackson, 11, know to use their voices unashamedly … and not to listen when the world tells them that women’s opinions don’t matter.
“It’s strange, little girls come into this world just naturally having that [ability to share their voices], and then we slowly break and kill that. We have to stop doing that,” Theron said. “They have it.”
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson & Lauren Hashian
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is known for his strength – and he’s making sure that strength is passed down to his daughters: Simone, 21 (with ex-wife Dany Garcia), Jasmine, 7, and Tia, 4 (with wife Lauren Hashian). Lovingly referring to his girls as “tornadoes,” The Rock told PEOPLE that his girls are “[V]ery passionate about how they feel. Lauren and I like raising them in an environment and a culture where there are no limits to life. You can do anything you want, and you can achieve anything you want.”
Kristen Bell & Dax Shepard
“I’m raising very strong women,” Bell said during an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show while discussing the very frank (and hilarious!) notes daughters Lincoln and Delta leave her. Via Instagram, Bell said she was teaching her daughters not to be afraid to disagree: “Not for disagreement’s sake, but rather to use their voice when they need to,” she explained. “To not be afraid to speak up and be clear when they have something valuable to add. To participate. To lean in. To use their gut and ethics to make decisions that sometimes fall outside the lines or buck the system.”
Kate Hudson & Danny Fujikawa
Kate Hudson famously said in a 2019 interview that she wanted to raise daughter Rani Rose (with husband Danny Fujikawa) in a “genderless” manner. After getting some backlash, she went on to clarify in an Instagram post: “”I raise and will continue to raise my children, both my boys and girl, to feel free to be exactly who they want to be. To feel confident in their life choices and feel loved and supported no matter what. Me saying a ‘genderless approach’ was a way of re-focusing the conversation in a direction that could exist outside of the female stereotype.”
Single mama Khloé Kardashian started early with lessons in self-confidence for her daughter, True. “I do positive affirmations with her in the morning,” she said in a 2019 interview with Stellar Magazine. “We sit in front of the mirror. It’s so corny: ‘I am beautiful!’”
Hilary Duff & Matthew Koma
Mom-of-three Hilary Duff (she shares son Luca with ex Mike Comrie and daughters, Banks and Mae, with husband Matthew Koma) told E! News that she wants her girls to know without a doubt how strong they are. “I just want them to know their power and to know that they things that we can handle are incredible,” she said. “I just fully want them to be who they want to be and who they’re meant to be. No apologies.”
Barack & Michelle Obama
As the parents of two daughters, Malia and Sasha, Barack and Michelle Obama have always been outspoken about the importance of raising them to be strong women. Former President Obama wrote about the subject in a 2016 op-ed for Glamour magazine.
“[W]hen you’re the father of two daughters, you become even more aware of how gender stereotypes pervade our society,” he said. “”We need to break through these limitations. We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.”
Prince William & Kate Middleton
The royal couple’s only daughter, Princess Charlotte, is notoriously strong-willed — and Prince William and Princess Kate are doing their best not to quash those strong, independent tendencies. “If you ask her, she says she’s 16,” Prince William revealed last year in a video shared by MailOnline. “Charlotte says, I’m six now, I’ll do whatever I want’. They grow up very fast.” And as far back as 2020, body language expert Judi James told The Daily Mail that the ever-confident then-4-year-old “appears to be the little leader in the family dynamic.”
Gabrielle Union-Wade & Dwyane Wade
For Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union-Wade, raising daughters Zaya and Kaavia means always letting their strength shine through — and letting them be exactly who they are. Both parents have expressed glowing pride in Zaya, who came out as transgender in 2020. Speaking directly to Zaya in a 2023 speech at the NAACP Image Awards, Wade said, “I admire how you’ve handled the ignorance in our world. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement.”
As for little Kaavia, she’s affectionately known as “Shady Baby” — because, as Union-Wade explained in an interview with PEOPLE, “[S]hade is her superpower because when Kaavia gives you a look, it’s either you’re not respecting her boundaries or something is happening that she doesn’t like.”
Bindi Irwin & Chandler Powell
Bindi Irwin and Chandler Powell gave their daughter Grace a very strong middle name — Warrior — and they are supporting that strength in any way they can. “Grace already has such a strong and independent personality,” Irwin told PEOPLE in 2022. “My hope is that she feels supported to undertake and accomplish anything she sets her mind to.”
Grandma Terri Irwin added that she hopes Grace will become “a changemaker for women”, adding, “I would like her to have the opportunity to be a role model through her specific passions in life. Whatever her chosen field, I hope to be able to give her the tools and confidence to be a leader and an inspiration for other girls.”
Hoda Kotb is a single mom to two girls, Haley Joy and Hope Catherine, and raising them to be strong women means being a role model herself.
“It is true that what we teach our kids is what we show our kids. We are telling our kids one thing sometimes and showing them something else,” the Today host told Hello! Magazine. “Show them, don’t tell them. Raising strong women, you’ve got to be strong and confident yourself, and you have to feel it inside and not just pretend. You don’t speak poorly of your body or your hair, or outfit.”
Patrick & Brittany Mahomes
Though Patrick and Brittany Mahomes’ daughter Sterling Skye is just 2 years old, mom Brittany has already set forth a clear plan on raising her into a strong woman, and that means striking a firm balance between being kind and being assertive: “I hope she grows up to be a kind, gentle soul with that good sassy attitude that she needs to change the world,” she said in an Instagram video.
Serena Williams & Alexis Ohanian
Serena Williams is the epitome of a strong woman, having always been outspoke about the double standards that female athletes face, so it’s no wonder she and husband Alexis Ohanian are raising their daughter Olympia in the same way.
“I want to teach her that it’s OK to make the first move,” Williams told E!. “It’s OK to ask and to say, ‘Listen, I want a chance at being in this play. Like put me in. Or just give me this first opportunity.’ There’s so many different ways to showcase that.” She added that she, too, had made the first move: “My dad said I was too young and I was so small and I wasn’t ready but I knew I was ready and I made that first move and I want my daughter to be able to do the same thing. We’re taught as a society that we have to wait and be second but that’s not true, we can be first. I love being first.”
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