Posts tagged parenting girls

Self-Reliance: The Gift that Keeps on Giving


What Moms Can Do About Kids Who Want to Be Sexy


As I started reading this article, “Why 6-Year Old Girls Want to Be Sexy,” I could hear my mind saying “UGH!” and thinking about the conversations I have been having…and will need to continue to have…with my two young daughters.

As I got to this section, however, I breathed a bit of a reassured sigh–validated that despite the challenges from the media, there is indeed much that Moms (and Dads and other caregivers!) can do about sexualized media messages:

“Mothers feel so overwhelmed by the sexualizing messages their daughters are receiving from the media that they feel they can do nothing to help,” she said. “Our study’s findings indicate otherwise — we found that in actuality, mothers are key players in whether or not their daughters sexualize themselves. Moms can help their daughters navigate a sexualizing world by instructing their daughters about their values and by not demonstrating objectified and sexualized behaviors themselves.”

Check out the whole article here:

If you are interested in hearing more about what parents can do to help their kids become critical thinkers and consumers of media, I have a few other recommendations:

  • First…check out Friendship & Other Weapons, of course, and the featured sections on helping young girls examine music lyrics, advertising, social media, and technology.  My article “Thinner, Sexier, Hotter” talks about sexualization in media and gives adults practical ideas for helping kids think critically about these messages.
  • Next, check out Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies, led by the tireless Melissa Wardy who always has something bold, brave, and inspiring to say about the impact of media sexualization on kids.  Mattel and Monster High–watch out!
  • Third, check out the innovative work of Ines Almeida and her new online marketplace that celebrates childhood without limits and gender stereotypes.
  • And fourth, New Moon Girls is a great publication and option for young girls who want to be inspired by their peers and celebrate all the things that girls can do without the limits of having to be “sexy” at a young age.



Being Perfectly Imperfect: In the Words of Rachel Simmons


Rachel Simmons is one of the first people to inspire me to work in the field of girl bullying. I love what she says here to girls–encouraging them to own their feelings and accept their imperfections.  I also love the practical skill set she encourages: giving girls a framework for analyzing what they can do better and what they did well in particular aspects of their lives.


While you are checking out Rachel’s video, be sure to browse around the Toward the Stars site–it’s a brand new initiative launched by the visionary Ines Almeida.  Her “tribe’s” purpose is to help reduce the threats to girlhood that crush girls ‘ true nature and potential.   Her dream is to create a unique marketplace focused on changing gender stereotypes that  cause girls to obsess over body image, keep them from taking leadership roles, and limit girls’ interests in sciences and math.

The One and Only Right Way to Parent


It’s a banner week for me, as far as finding Mama-friends who hit the ball out of the park with their writing and reflections on motherhood.  Check out this awesome post, by blogger Lisa Kaplan, who talks about over-watered first-borns (don’t we all have one?), living in glass houses, and developing some much needed empathy for one other.  LOVE it!

8 Things I Want to Tell my 8-Year Old Daughter


I stumbled upon this WONDERFUL, put-a-smile-in-your-heart article yesterday and knew it was too good not to share!  With gracious permission from its author, the wise and inspiring Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker, I present to you, “8 Things I Want to Tell My 8-Year Old Daughter:”


My youngest daughter turned 8 years old this week. This means that she has moved into the world of tweens. Tween marketing is commonly focused on kids between the ages of 8-12 years, and it has become a stage in life when a mini version of adulthood is being promoted as fun and appropriate. But my girl is still so young. Having gone through this stage with my two older daughters, I want so much for her to hold on to and enjoy her childhood. There’s no reason to rush into being a teenager at the age of 8! And yet, that is a vision that I see in so many programs and products marketed to her. As she turns eight, these are eight things that I want her to know:

  1. Your uniqueness is what makes you amazing: As you enter the tween years, you’re going to feel pressure to be like everyone else, to follow the crowd, to not stand out. But the things that make you different are what make you original, uniquely you. Love those things about yourself; from your freckles to your love for animals to the way you feel things so strongly.
  1. Enjoy being a kid: You will be a teenager soon enough, and then an adult. Don’t stifle your exuberance, your love to laugh and run and play because it makes you look like a kid. You are a kid! Chase butterflies, play pretend, wear clothes that don’t match, run as fast as you can and play in the mud!
  1. Believe in your dreams: As I got older, I realized that everyone didn’t believe that I could do things I thought I could. I know that you’re going to feel that too, and that it will hurt your heart. But the voices of those who don’t believe are no stronger than your own. If you believe deep in your heart that you should pursue something then let’s do it!
  1. If you don’t risk, you’ll never know: It’s easy to play it safe and avoid taking risks in life, both big and small. But if you don’t risk, you’ll never know what might have happened. Whether it’s learning a new sport, trying a new food, or making a new friend, go out there and live your life fully.
  1.   You are more than your looks: My precious daughter, you may notice that people suddenly want to tell you that you should be plucking, shaving, coloring, glossing, making-up and whatever else to make you look better. You may suddenly worry about the hair on your legs or the freckles on your nose or the cowlick in your hair. If you’re not careful, it’s so easy to begin to believe that what really matters about you is how you look. But you are so much more than that! You are brilliant, strong, passionate, curious, kind, and more! Know that these are the things that are most important about you, not the way you look.
  1. Know that I am here: For the past years, I have always been here for you whether it’s been to give a hug, wipe a tear, share a laugh, or have an adventure. As you get older, it may get harder to talk to me. You may have feelings that you don’t understand. You may struggle with friendships and romantic relationships. You may struggle with feelings about yourself. Please know that I am still here for you, whenever and however you need me. Whether you need to talk out a disagreement with a teacher or make a big decision, my arms, ears, and heart are always open to you.
  1.  You were born to shine: I believe with all my heart that you were born with a purpose, that you can make this world a better place using your unique gifts and talents. Never forget that you were born to shine the beauty of your unique individuality on this old world and make it brighter.
  1.   Love other people: Even when they don’t deserve it, even when they hurt you, even when they make you mad. Let love for others fill your heart so that it flows out of you to touch the lives of those around you. It’s easy to share hate, bitterness, and rudeness. It’s so much harder to turn to hate with love, to look at the person who is being mean to you and see someone who needs mercy. But the world would be a better place if we all learned to do that. You can’t make other people love, but you can choose to love.


Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker is a nationally certified school psychologist and licensed specialist who has worked with hundreds of families, children, and teachers in her career.  She is the current director of the School Psychology specialist program and an Associate Professor of Psychology at Abilene Christian University. Along with writing and presenting research at professional conferences, Dr. Shewmaker provides media literacy workshops that help parents, teachers, and children learn to more closely examine media messages and plan a thoughtful, effective response. She is the author of the blog Don’t Conform Transform at


Top 10 Heroes for Girls, from Brad Meltzer


The History Channel’s Brad Meltzer wrote this great article for the Huffington Post on what makes a real hero for a young girl.  In his words:

As I tell my daughter, when you want something in life — no matter how impossible it seems — you need to fight for it. When you believe in something, fight for it. And when you see injustice, fight harder than you’ve ever fought before. It’s the lesson that links the lives of every single hero I picked for her. As I tell her: Don’t be the princess waiting for the prince to come save you. You can save yourself.

Check out this great gallery of inspiring heroes:

Conflict Metaphor for Kids


Through the wonders of Facebook, a friend of a friend of a 4th grader shared this pearl of wisdom about conflict resolution.  Only wish I had the pleasure of knowing this elementary school student personally!


In conflict with another person, if you come in fierce like a tiger, you’ll have to win. So only you will be happy.

If you come in like a bunny, scared, the other person will win, so only that person will be happy.

If you come in like a bird, with your wings and your heart open, both people in the conflict will win, and both will be free.


Will be sure to use this during How to Be Angry workshops with kids!

Real Girls Aren’t Perfect; Perfect Girls Aren’t Real


I am printing one of these for each of my daughters’ bedroom mirrors and posting this one to share with you!

“Models are Made:” A Must See Video for Young Girls


In my book, Friendship & Other Weapons, I dedicate a session to media literacy and empowerment–specifically, helping young girls look “behind the scenes” of today’s advertising industry, to understand some of the smoke & mirrors tricks that go into creating cover-girl looks.  I suggest the Dove Evolution video as a great discussion piece that adults can use to educate and inform kids.

Here is a newer video that spells things out for kids (and adults) in a clear and compassionate way–I love the way this photographer explains all of the work that goes into creating a camera ready image…and that he cared enough about young girls’ self-esteem to create the video in the first place.  Cheers to him!

Moms, watch this one with your daughters!  I know I will be showing this in my Mother-Daughter workshops based on Friendship & Other Weapons when we talk about the media’s impact on young girls.  This is the perfect clip for creating awareness about healthy body images, photoshopping, and self-esteem.


My BFF is a Total Nightmare: Great Advice from author Rachel Simmons


On my “To Write” list is an article entitled “What to Do When Your Daughter’s Friend is a Mean Girl.”  I have a classic example to tell and story to share…so hopefully I’ll sit down at some point and get the article written…but in the meantime, check out this great advice from Rachel Simmons on the same topic.

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