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Raising Strong Daughters

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Grade school was tough for me.  I got picked on a lot, mostly because I got good grades and didn’t like to get in trouble.   I think a lot of my insecurities as an adult began on the school playground as a 9-year-old who just wanted to fit in.  Because of those experiences, I’ve become super-sensitive to how I’m raising my daughters.  I want them to be strong young women who don’t let the opinions of others determine their self-worth.  I know some of that is inevitable (I see it already in preschool when my daughter gets her feelings hurt because a girl in her class doesn’t want to play with her), but hopefully they will be able to avoid at least some of the negativity that I experienced so long ago.
The other day I was flipping channels and a story on the Today Show caught my eye.  It was about a new book called ‘The Drama Years’, which tells the true stories of middle-school girls dealing with issues like self-esteem and bullying.  As I listened to these young girls talk, I could feel my anxiety level rising.  My heart broke for some of them, as they talked about feeling invisible at school or being called names because of how they looked or what they were wearing.  Most surprising was some of them saying their parents had no idea what was going on or how they were feeling. 
I know the middle school years can be an awkward and difficult period of time.  Girls in particular start focusing so much on what others think of them instead of what they think of themselves.  The pressure to fit in becomes intense, even more so now than it was when I was growing up.  So how do we teach young women to be kind to each other and feel good about themselves?  How do we teach them that what matters is what’s on the inside, not what designer’s jeans they are wearing? 
So far I’m trying to teach by example.  My oldest daughter knows that I don’t focus much on outward appearances.  I tell her every day that she’s beautiful, not because of how she looks but because of her kind and caring heart.   I ask her questions about her day and try to get her to open up to me about how she’s feeling.  I’m doing my best to establish a very open relationship with her from the very beginning, so that in 5 years, she’s not one of the girls saying her parents have no idea what’s going on.  If she’s being bullied or feeling down, I want to know about it so that I can help her work through it.  Same goes for my son and for my youngest daughter (who’s 7 months old) when the time comes.
What do you think?  If you are raising daughters, how do you teach them to be kind to others and feel good about the person they are becoming?

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Very good topic Report
I think it's important to build a friend group early (think toddler-preK). My parents were friends with some other couples in our town who also had kids the same ages as my sister and me. We regularly played together and built such a strong friendship circle that we'd stand up for each other. We were taught that violence was not acceptable unless you were in danger and defending either yourself or one of your friends/siblings from something/someone. My parents encouraged my sister and me to do whatever activities we felt drawn toward. Playing team sports as a kid helped us grow into people who can handle competition, conflict, and teamwork, and when we found something we were good at, it helped our confidence levels. I think my parents did a great job raising two strong daughters. Report
Disappointed in your decision to be a friend vs a mother. Life is tough and only your child can work through those moments with your strength not protection. It's part of growing up. Never easy. We all have our insecurities but however uncomfortable the moment, it makes us into the strong people we are. Only adversity does this. Report
This is a hot topic judging by all the comments. I reared three daughters and two sons and dealt with this with some of them. Keeping kids busy with learning opportunities that are fun is one way to booster their self esteem. When they feel good about themselves it makes them stronger. They find friends through these many activities and with friends kids are good to go. Report
As a single mother raising 2 daughters (ages 2 1/2 and 11 months), I worry everyday about their teenage years...not due to the potential smart mouth, mood swings, etc., I worry about the world and their esteem and ability to handle such cruel people. I can only hope to guide them in the right direction and get them involved in activities that promote their self worth and intellect and not based on their looks. I love my girls with all of my heart and I hope that they know that I will love them and think they are beautiful, smart and capable all the time!! I will be an involved mother and I can only hope that they hang with kids that their parents are involved as well. Report
I have two daughters, ages 22 and 13, and one son who is 9. Throughout my life I have been completely overshadowed by a sister who was a few years younger but louder and more outgoing. People tend to remember her and not even know that I exist. So with all of my children I try to let them know that they are all important to me so that one does not overshadow the other. My oldest is a little skittish, the second one is overweight but still has the confidence that I wish I had and the third, my son, is very soft-spoken. I know that being overweight in this world is hard enough without adding the fact that you're a teenager to the equation. I continue to try and boost my children's confidence by letting them know that are beautiful and smart and wonderful and most of all that, "God don't make no junk"! But I also pray without ceasing...... Report
I have a 7 year old daughter and she gets picked on quite a bit because she's "weird." Well, my whole family is "weird" and I'm teaching her to be proud of that. I'm hoping she learns the beauty and strength of not having to conform to what everyone else is doing.

One thing I will say, her room mother said someone was picking on her & she didn't give them the time of day. I was very proud of that. Then, at daycare, she just called someone out on it. Another girl was picking on her & she said "how sad that you have to try to put me down to feel better." I was so proud of her...she was quoting what her mama told her. :) Usually if you call out a bully, they stop & it sure worked for her! I can't tell you how proud I am of my girl & I hope she keeps her awesomeness. Report
Your writing caught my eye and it's the first blog I've read on this site. I have a daughter who is 18 years old and two sons, one of them 10 and the other 7 years old. Relating to your writing was easy because I'm struggling to teach my kids to be proud of who they are from the inside out.

I am 38 years old and have struggled with my self worth and self esteem all these years. It's only been this year and very recently that I began to truly believe that I am a worthwhile person and to do things and say positive things to myself everyday to improve my own self esteem. I am hoping by doing this that I, also, will lead my children by example. It's never too late.

Thanks for this has made me think about ways I can still work with and encourage my precious children. Report
Ladies, young girls are not the ones exclusively tormented or bullied in school, young boys are also bullied. I grew up in a Christian family, and I was also bright and reading at a young age. My parents thought they were doing me a favor by seeking and receiving approval to start me in kindergarten at the age of four.

Being the youngest of my grade peers didn't mean a great deal in primary school - what did was that I was almost always the smallest kid in my grade. That got me bullied, until I went to middle school in the 7th grade.

We had just moved into a new town before school started that year, and about the third day the "Bully-in-Chief" decided to teach me that my pecking order was on the bottom in 'his' school. I was caught from behind in the boy's bathroom and had forcibly had my head stuffed in a toilet.

That was the first time I ever got mad. I had been angry before, but because of my upbringing, had never had my anger advance.

By the time I got cleaned up, I was late for class. I went to the principal, told him what happened but not who had done it, and got a pass to excuse my tardiness. By the time I got to class, the story was all over the school.

Only one person, a pretty girl in my class, was a bit supportive of me. Even though she was about a foot taller, her support made her my friend and "girl friend". It took about 3 seconds.

By lunchtime, my anger had progressed to a smoldering mad. I saw the 'bully-in-chief across the lunch quad. Facing away from me by about a quarter turned. I walked up, basically on his blind side, and slammed my knee into his thigh. He went down on one knee, looked at me threatening death and started to get back up. I kicked him in the face, knocking him backwards.

I was later told I screamed and jumped on him, hitting him in the face over and over. A gym teacher lifted me off and took me to the principal's office. To this day, I can't remember if I walked, was dragged or how I got there.

My dad was called in, and the Principal told him what had happened, from the teachers viewpoint. My dad, an L.A. policemen, wanted to hear my side of the story. The Principal blustered, but my dad dad insisted or he was going to call the police - which seemed to make the Principal just a little befuddled, but my dad heard the other side of the story.

My dad said it sounded pretty much like a regular playground boys thing and suggested things be called equal. Unfortunately, I had given the bully a black eye, a split lip and a broken nose. The bullies dad made it to the school, had seen his son in the nurses office and stormed into the Principal's office, took one look at me and started towards me, threatening to "kick your aps". My dad quickly stood and grabbed him from the side, the guy started to spin around and take a punch at my dad (actually, my adoptive dad) and stopped when he saw a 6'4", very muscular man holding out his badge. I thought it was obvious where my bully got his bullying ways from.

After a few seconds, I was sent out of the room to set across the desk from the secretary.

Neither of us could hear what was going on, but we could hear it involved a lot of yelling.

It got quiet, which freighted me more than a bit. I was called back into the office and was told to apologize to the father, which, as reluctantly as a 7th grader could, I did. The father then apologized to me for his son's actions and said it would never happen again, then he left.

I was suspended for the rest of the day, and my dad told me, "When we get home and I tell your mother, heaven help you". Then we left and drove back to our small farm. There was absolutely no sound in the cab of the pick-up.

When we got back home, we quietly walked up the stairs, across the porch and into the living room. My dad told me to set down and he went to get my mom.

In the era I grew up in (late 50s and early 60s), "spare the rod and spoil the child", especially boys, was considered a perfectly reasonable philosophy and spankings were designed, basically, to get the child's attention and to also punish. I can promise you, a spanking Always got my attention and made me think of my 'evil' ways.

If physical punishment was decided on, my dad administered thse behind burning experiences, but my mom always put her opinion in, and I would rather have had 10 spankings instead of her "talking to". A spanking got my attention and hurt temporarily, but my mom would start asking me questions and ask just how my actions were justified by the teachings in the Bible. Those hurt worse than anything.

Because of what had happened to me prior to my 'fight', my mom went to the Old Testament and used the "eye for an eye" example to partially justify my actions. Then she went to the New Testament and reminded me to 'turn the other cheek'. Finally, she asked me (ME!), what I thought my punishment should be. You all know my preference, and my dad and I walked down and behind the barn.

He said, "Son, this is going to hurt me more than it does you". You can probably know what I was thinking.

My dad told me I should scream with every loud slap, and I didn't think I had to worry about that.

Then my dad did the strangest thing. He clapped his hands together. I was stunned and did nothing. He yelled, loud enough for my mom to hear, "Don't be stubborn boy, I'll just have to use a little more force to make you feel it!" Then he slapped his hands together and I cooperated by yelling loudly. He did that nine more times and by the time he quit, I had gotten into it and was screaming, "No more! Please dad, don't spank me again!"

When that was all over, he reached to get me and gave me a giant hug. He told me that he was proud of me. He didn't really believe in violence, but as a police officer, realized that was the only way to handle some things. He was most concerned that I had flown into a rage and hadn't been able to control what I did.

We talked some more, then he went back up to the house and I stayed behind the barn. I finally went back to the house, got my books from the living room and went to my room and did homework. I'm as sure as I can be that my dad told my mom what had really transpired behind the barn, because the next morning she tried very hard to be serious, but I caught her grinning a little bit.

I never had another bit of trouble in that school. The girl who supported me and I stayed friends for the whole two years we lived there. She probably qualifies as my first "girlfriend", but that was limited to holding hands, and a few kisses before we moved. Remember, this was about the same time as "Leave It To Beaver" and kids were a bit, a lot, more naive then they are now.

Teach your daughters how to be strong and protect themselves as much as possibly. Don't lie or diminish what they may experience. A single hard kick, just below and to the inside of a guys kneecap will put him on the ground in great pain and she can she can run to safety. Most often, a kick to the groin is what is told, but in actuality, a kick to the groin can be blocked fairly easily simply by shifting your weight and blocking with your thigh.

Also, teach your sons that while violence can't really be condoned, sometimes it's the only answer to someone who won't listen to peaceful negotiations.

Teach them all that "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FAIR FIGHT". A person who attacks them Plans to do them no good. Colonel Shelby from the civil war had the best technique as a raider. He struck his enemies hard and fast and then got away as quickly as possible. Seldomly is there a good reason to stand and slug it out.

My belief is that many more children than not are subject to bullying. Now, as much on the computer and social networks as physically in school. Report
I have raised 2 daughters of my own and poured into many young girls that my husband and I have fostered thru the years, and I have tried with God's help to teach my children to treat others with gentleness and respect. To look out for the " under dog" and not allow others way of treating people to influence what they know is right. I keep them in constant prayer that Godwould protect them and not allow negativity to distract them from their goals. Also to encourage other about the greatness that lies in them by word and example. I try to teach them that hurt people hurt people so if they could befriend the person hurting they could change the cycle of hurt head on. Both my daughters are in college now, doing well and both are very loving people who continue to seek out and befriend the lonely! I'm proud of them!!! Report
Enjoyed Report
Both of my kids have gone through rough patches of bullying. They both are/were very well liked by their teachers and I always get compliments on how well behaved and kind they are/were. I had to take my daughter out of school in 8th grade and home school her because the school wasn't taking effort to solve the problem. She's 23 now and she suffers from post traumatic stress.

My son is 13 and although his school handled the problems in a better manner, he has a hard time playing with any of the kids from his school even though they give him a lot of respect whenever we're at any events. And the teachers tell me he volunteers to help other students who are having problems with school work. He plays a sport, but doesn't form any bonding relationships. He has one friend from our old neighborhood but they don't get to meet up very often.

I know that I've taught my children to be kind to everyone and I'm always supporting them, and encouraging them and I make it a point to listen to what they have to say. But I think there comes a point when a parent can only do so much once the outside damage is done because we are all human beings and we all want to fit in and feel loved by people other than our parents.

In 6th grade he attempted to start an anti-bullying program in his school along with a local organization. Could you believe that the day the parents were invited to come out with their children, no one showed up except for the organizers and the two of us? So sad. Report
I had an incredible mother, and I told her everything. I am decades past jr. High and high school and I was bullied. It's funny when I run into those people as adults and find out what was behind it sometimes. On the positive side, I am a very tough person and learned really early how to deal with adversity. Report
My daughter is going to be 40 this year, she felt like an outsider in grade school. We got her into figure skating( her choice ), and it did a fantastic job of boosting her confidence. I didn't want her to continue feeling the way I did when young, as my twin sister and I were picked on for being identical twins in the early years of school. However since the two of us were so close we over came the situation. Irinocally at present my daughter is having a tough time since her 10 year old daughter is being bullied for being on the chunkier side and so short of statue for here age. I told her just keep telling her we all love her and that kids can be cruel, which she has been doing. One day it got out of hand, daughter called the bus company, they called parents and a stop was put to the problem at least for now. Report
My daughter turned 29 this year & she is an amazing human being. I think because we always tried to keep lines of communication open it helped her know we'd listen to her no matter what. We also told her that if she ever needed an excuse not to do something her peers were doing, that she could use us as her scapegoats. Her friends could then blame us, instead of her - figured we were the grown ups and could withstand the wrath of teenage girls. Report
All of my children took Karate or JUDO beginning at age 4, and never ever were bullied by anyone. My DD had to put two different boys in Arm-bars at school in 8th grade from touching her chest, (this was at a private Catholic School) and after that they ALL left her alone. She warned them that she knew JUDO and to leave her alone. Once she had him on the ground, he got the message. Report
I know my daughters did have issues in later elementary school and middle school. I was able to find out about most things and intervene for them at school but it is terrible that I had to. Thank goodness they ended up in a high school that was focused on brains instead of clothes or "drama". I have healthy, strong and beautiful daughters who will make a good mark on the world.

It used to start in 4th grade and peak in about 7th. I really hope it isn't starting earlier but, reading these comments, it is. Report
Oh, yeowza! Report
My daughter is only 8 and has gone through so much already. Her playgroup as a baby to 3 or 4 year old was cruel. The parents constantly stood us up for playdates and I had to explain to her about disappointments. She would want me to force people to come play because others would have different priorities and not show up. We finally had to leave our playgroup because my son and daughter just weren't getting enough playtime/socialization from it. We joined another group, but it was mostly younger kids.

I enrolled my daughter in preschool about a year after most and she was pretty smart even for those kids her age. She got bullied there; at age 4!!! She a beautiful and smart child who loves to help others.

Now that she is in 2nd grade, it still hasn't stopped. There were girls in Kindergarten and 1st grade that were just mean. About 6 mo. ago one girl told her she had hairy arms and in 90 degree weather she wouldn't wear shorts or short sleeves! This girl didn't even remember she made this comment, but my daughter sure did.

We had her write sentences saying she was beautiful and she didn't care what anyone else said.

It's a harsh world out there, we really need to prepare them.

Good luck everyone. I had it rough, too. My son has taken some smack, too, but he seems to be a little happy go lucky with it. Or at least he's not a as sensitive and lets it go after a while. I'm not sure. His disposition is much more jovial than my daughter's.

rumbamel Report
My daughter was traumatized in Jr. High, not only on the school grounds but on the bus. She said she never felt safe. I saw her sense of self worth plummet. I took her out after the first year and home schooled her. Academically she was always on top, plus she is pretty on the outside as well as the inside. Just a quiet sensitive soul.
I believe she learned by my example and values. We talk alot even to this day, she's a Freshman in college and doing very well. She still has to stretch herself past some of the shyness, but she is rising above it. Her self-worth is in tack.
I wonder why girls are so mean anymore! ? She runs into a few, and she talks to me, very intelligent and level headed about it. I believe I have taught her that in life there are people like that and hopefully have shown her how to deal with it. She has to learn on her own and she is doing a very good job at it. If I had left her in that bad situation she may have ended up so demoralized and not have any goals or aspirations or even want to try to aspire to any thing. She has run into some of the girls that she had problems with and their life situations are not good. The thing is she is not gloating over them, she has compassion on them with wisdom and is thankful that she didn't end up like that. And yes I do pray for her and believe we made the right choice. Report
You are right to communicate with your daughter. Continue to praise her strengths and try to help her develop in the weak spots. I have a 16 year old daughter,I try to communicate with her, meet her friends, have them in my home and talk with them about what is going on in school and in their lives. I tell her what I expected of her and what I value, like about her and how I see her and how I want her to be. Communication is key,pray, listen, talk and show her the way. Middle school is brutal, but go into with both boots on. From time to time, I tell my daughter I will kick butt for you, we laugh, but it's my way letting her know that I am in her corner. Report
First - I would not think there is any difference to raising a son concerning self-esteem and communication... but I do have a daughter, she is twelve and puberty is rolling in. Yes, I talk and yes I tell her that she is beatiful, clever etc. etc - I hope that gives her something but I am sadly aware that I cannot carry her through life, she is her own person and will be what she will be. I think those years 13-16 are horrible for most young people, my "recipe" is to help her find some interest where she can forget herself and her pimples - I had horses, I think she will be into dancing... whatever, something that she wakes her passion and gives her a place to timeout from that hormon hurricane... what I also do is telling her about my own embarrasing moments and failures today, I want her to know that she is not alone. Report
I think that you tell them everyday that they are worthy and loved. You encourage them to make the most of their gifts and grow in all ways. Create a climate where taking risks is acceptable and failure isn't the end of the world.
I teach in a middle school and the kids I see who have the most trouble socially (the bully and the bullied) are the ones who have no strong sense of their worth and their capabilities. No parent or significant other has taken the time to discover and reinforce their strengths. Having said that, my daughter emerged from the womb with a pretty well defined sense of self and never looked back.
I think if we can only do one thing for our kids to make the world a less threatening place it's love them unconditionally. Report
Middle school students are the closest I have come to actual cannibals! They eat each other alive!

That's partly why my children were homeschooled through the middle school years, and then were able to integrate back into school in high school with their self esteem intact and leadership abilities ready to demonstrate, flying through the challenges that could have derailed them for a long, Long time. Report
I also have a 4 year old daughter. I am raising her to be a strong independent woman as well. Everyday I tell her she is beautiful and everyday I tell her to not follow the crowd and do what she likes. She is already starting to become a leader and be independent in class. I maybe her personality and it may be that letting her know it is ok to do what she wants and not what everyone else wants makes her stronger. Sometimes people follow because no else has the nerve to stand up with a different idea. Report
I think you can't insulate them from it, but you certainly can let them know you are there for them and that they are GREAT people. My parents did this for me, and so did my grandmother. I didn't tell them about my being bullied either, for a long time, but at least I knew those kids were jerks and that I was a good person. I knew that because of my family. Report
I have a 15 year old and an 8 year old. I have always taught them to do what they believe is right even if it goes against what everyone else says or does. I believe they've become well rounded although we had a couple of incidents with my 15 year old. The school system that they are in has a no tolerance policy and I think that helps. The school that my 8 year old is in also does a lot of older kids helping the younger kids with in the classrooms (her school is a k-8) so the junior academy is held to a higher standard. My high schooler only has to deal with the kids her age, she is in a school that just opened and they only have 9th grade only and 140 students a grade level so they too are also held to a higher standard when the other kids come into the school. They are able to use what I've taught them in the school and be able to hold themselves confidently and know that they live and die by their decisions and about what is done to or helped with other kids. I believe that this will help them as they continue on with their relationships as they get older. Report
Really enjoyed and could def relate to what you are saying, and I am 63 years old. Some things never change, do they? Report
It starts so young anymore! I remember only have problems with cliques in 7th/8th grade, but my daughter's had to deal with the whole "mean girls" thing since Kindergarten!!! I've just gotta wonder what on earth the other kids' homelives are like that they act like that! Report
Oh my goodness, I remember those dreadful feelings from school years.
One thing I really *have* to say, though, is that many parents bring things on themselves, re their children, by *demanding* that their children do things in a certain way or live their lives in a certain way.

We have to remember that our children are persons in their own right.
I also started the ethic & moral considerations with my sons when they were really wee.
And it worked for them all through school and since (now ages 24 and 22). They have their own thoughts and opinions, but skin colour or differing religions or whatever mean nothing to them because they each focus on the person, not the baggage. Report
I can relate to the hellish school years. I have 2 daughters, 7 and 15. My oldest is in high school and dealing with nearly the same thing I did. I have been in contact with the school, but that doesn't seem to help either. Our last resort was counseling and talking with each other and reassuring her this is going to be over soon and you will not have to deal with this anymore. I am hoping that some things will change by the time my youngest begins high school. It hurts me to see my kids upset by bullies. Too many lives have been lost by these people and something must be done to stop it. Report
"I got picked on a lot, mostly because I got good grades and didn’t like to get in trouble." Wow - that describes my youth, too (although I'm sure my being arrogant about it didn't help me out, either:)). Good for you for working on mitigating this from their early years. Report
I raised three and I think I did a pretty good job. I was horribly shy and didn't want my kids to be that way so I pushed them to do things so they would learn to speak to people and not be that way. Though they all have some problems growing up they didn't have near the problems I did with not being able to stand up for myself or trying new things. We used to take walks every evening which was a time we could communicate quiet well and always got along without the fighting I see in other families. Report
My daughters are 21, 16, and 14. So far we have very open communication, and I do get peeks from time to time into their worlds. I am thankful and blessed to be able to talk to my precious girls about nearly everything. I did not have that relationship with my mom. To get there, like so many of you, I started in infancy. Talking, but mostly LISTENING. Making sure I did not judge, did not criticize, and did not lecture my kids when they spoke to me. I knew I had to be safe to talk to at age 5 if they were going to try to talk to me at 15. I had to listen to YEARS of what dolls were fighting with what other dolls and why yellow crayons were better than green ones before we got to talking about life issues. But I knew that if I did not take the time to listen to what was important to a 5 year old, (or a 5 month old) I would never get to listen to what was important to a teen. So far it has worked well. My kids know I am safe to talk to, I don't over-react, I don't yell, and I don't judge. When they have a problem we talk about ways they can handle it themselves. If there is no solution, I simply listen, sometimes cry, hold them, and tell them that I love them and wish they did not have to go through these things.

I also have an 11 year old son. I am now in the throes of listening to hours and hours of the ways he has defeated this or that level on the wii games. But every once in awhile he also has a story or two about someone in class and what he is going through. He will enter middle school next year, I hope we can continue to talk.

I cannot make them feel beautiful. I cannot make them confident, or independent. What I can do is listen, love, support, and try to show them by example how to live a life free from drama. So far they do seem to be learning some lessons. I hope it is enough! Report
Raising strong, independent girls is not easy. My daughter is now 18. She struggled during middle school because she had always marched to a different drummer and just didn't fit in. and middle-school girls can be pretty cruel to anyone who is different. It took a lot of reassurance (and some councilling) to get through those years. I'm fortunate that she was usually willing to talk to me about things that were bothering her. It wasn't until high school when there was a larger pool of kids with a wider range of interests that she finally found her niche and blossomed socially.

Setting a good example by doing things for yourself also helps girls realize that both men and women maintain their cars, fix the plumbing, fix delicious and nutritious meals and troubleshoot the home computer. Report
My daughter is 9 months old and I tell her all the time that her mind is what is beautiful. I tell her it is her smile and her laughter that brings beauty to my day. I realize I am starting early but I figure if I say it enough, it will stick not only with her but with me. Report
I'm doing the same thing with my daughter. She will be 5 in two weeks. I am trying my best to be open with her about everything. If she asks a question, she gets a straight up answer. I tell her everyday that she is beautiful and that I love her. She knows it too. So far it's working. I ask her everyday how her day went. And she answers me in detail. If she gets her feelings hurt or something is bothering her, she tells me. She is really open with me and I'm hoping that she continues to be. I didn't have a good relationship with my parents growing up. Still don't. So I'm hoping by the way I'm raising my daughter she will know that she can talk to me about anything no matter what the situation is and feel comfortable talking to me. Report
I have two girls, 6 and 4; already, I try my best to talk to them about their interactions with others, how it's not okay to laugh when someone gets hurt, and to help others. My 6 year old is very empathetic, and is usually the first person at the side of a fallen friend. I always praise her greatly when she does this!

I also have the pleasure (and heartache) of working with middle schoolers on a regular basis; I get to see their "real" sides, as I'm one of two adults who manage an entire website of around 20,000 kids, mostly between the ages of 12-16.

Some of the things they deal with are heartbreaking; I often wonder where their parents are. If they saw half of the things their kids are posting when they're not around, they'd be horrified.

I think the best advice I can give anyone based on that experience is KNOW what your child is doing, and saying, everywhere; this includes texts and the internet. Where they go and what they do is a part of their lives now... and it's important that it be monitored while they're too immature to manage on their own.

It's also about what I say and do; I don't focus on "losing weight" - try (usually successfully) to focus on being stronger. When my daughter compliments me on my weight loss, I thank her, and then tell her that I'm REALLY proud of being stronger and fitter and faster. I hope she gets the message that my health is more important than the scale reading. Report
As the mother of a 13 year old, I have had to learn to let go and let God take over. I pray over every area of her life. I always have, but at the same time I had these ideals of who she would become and how our relationship would be. I am also a teacher and am used to being in the know of all the drama and social dinamics in school. My daughter is her own person (whom I don't even recognize sometimes thanks to hormones!). She knows I love her more than anything and am here to listen, but she doesn't tell me everything. It's a hard time when we have to let them grow up and they struggle to learn how to transition from child to teenager. I talk, she listens, I get tid bits of what's going on (I get loads more information from talking with her friends), and I trust her. So far, I am very impressed with the woman she is becoming...strong, responsible, and independent. (Also helps to have relationships with her friends' parents & keep up with all their social media.) Report