Finding positive female role models for our daughters can be a bit tricky these days. Try as we might to shield our girls from Amanda Bynes’s Twitter account and steer them instead in the direction of hardworking and commendable female stars, personas can change rapidly. It wasn’t that long ago, for instance, that Miley Cyrus and her parents sat on Oprah’s couch enjoying praise for managing to remain grounded and down-to-earth.
So what’s a parent to do? Here are our ideas…
Look to the Past
March is National Women’s History month, so it’s the perfect time to share with your daughter the accomplishments of pioneering women from all walks of life. This year’s theme is “Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment.” Honorees have dedicated their lives to serving a range of worthy causes including Native American rights, African American rights, domestic violence awareness, employment equality and women’s rights internationally.
Along with visiting the National Women’s History Project website, you can also hit up the library for books on female historical figures written for children of all ages. The “Who Was…?” series from Penguin Books features biographies on a number of inspiring women from Rosa Parks and Anne Frank to Jane Goodall (pictured below) and Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut to fly in space (pictured above).
Look to Literature
With the creation of characters such as Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen, strong female role models are popping up all over the pages these days, making the world of fiction a great place to motivate and inspire your daughter. Along with the fierce heroines of these young adult novels, classic female literary protagonists, such as Anne of Green Gables and Little Women‘s Jo March, can teach our girls about feeling flawed, lonely, and insecure – and succeeding in spite of those feelings. If you’re not sure where to find books with admirable female protagonists, a simple web or Pinterest search using terms like “strong female role models in literature” is a good place to start.
Look to the News
Amongst the reports of Hollywood starlets checking into rehab or moving onto their third boyfriend of the month, there are news stories of amazing acts of bravery and fortitude being performed by women all over the world. It’s our responsibility as parents to make sure our daughters are hearing about women like Malala Yousafzai (pictured above), the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls education who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 and later nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Look to Your Family
Perhaps one of the most powerful places to find positive female role models for your daughter is in your own family. Make an effort to learn about your female ancestors and the contributions they made to their communities and families. I’ve already started sharing with my preschool-aged daughter (and son) about my grandmother, who was the first female elected official in our town. As my kids get older I plan to elaborate on the pressures and scrutiny she faced as a widowed, single mother working outside the home and under the spotlight.
Our tabloid-obsessed culture can make it difficult to teach our daughters about what it means to be a confident and capable women these days. Whether we champion Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, or the stay-at-home mom down the street, the most important thing is that we continue to introduce our girls to women of substance and character.
Photo Credits: Getty Images