Children who grow up with a strong mom who is gentle but also firm, knowledgeable about her body, open to teaching them about theirs, and direct with her expression of feeling (without being insensitive to theirs) grow up respecting women and understanding their value. Many families are lacking these empowered women mentors though, so how do we teach girls/women to be assertive without being insensitive to others feelings? How do we teach them that they don’t need a boyfriend, but an interest to pursue in life? How do we teach them to understand and know their body so magazine ads and other media sources cannot turn them into women who hate their bodies and feel totally disconnected from them? It begins with teaching them to honor themselves enough and to explore their options. Here are a few other suggestions to help empower women so they can make wise choices with sexual partners.
1. Quit focusing on abstinence and instead focus on helping girls decide what they want to do with their lives. Empowered girls who feel better about themselves make better choices with securing a partner.
2. The focus should be on being your best self, not a magazine photo of an airbrushed beauty. I recently did a story on HLN that depicted moms of beauty pageant toddlers now giving their young toddlers “pixie sticks” to eat so they would behave perkier. This is not empowerment, no matter what the moms say.
3. Focus on how you talk to your daughter’s other parent. Are you disrespectful of him? Moms teach daughters (and sons) how to talk to their dad (and future men). Respect your child’s other parent because empowered women respect men.
4. Never tell your daughter that she shouldn’t feel the way she does. A feeling is never right or wrong; it just is. Validate her feelings even if you don’t agree…she has a right to how she feels.
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Empowering women, daughters, or anyone doesn’t mean you become their best friend. No gender is more or less than the other, as we need both men and women. Empowering women doesn’t mean “de-powering” men. When you are someone who empowers others, you believe in encouraging, educating, and being a mentor. Empowerment like most things begins at home. –Mary Jo Rapini
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Tags: Empowering Women, Sex, HIV, Marriage, Relationships