Woman to Woman
Competition has the potential to be a very constructive experience. Among high-achieving women, one third of those studied mentioned that they could recall positive experiences centered around competition.
Let's be a little more definitive on what moms can do to raise women who will achieve self-sufficiency in adulthood. The following list is compiled from research studies conducted by Dr. Sylvia Rimm (based on 1,000 successful women) and information from Sondra Forsyth, author of Girls Seen and Heard (Putnam, 1998).
You might be interested to know that in Dr. Rimm's study, 83 percent of the mothers of these high achievers were home full-time when their daughters were of preschool age. By the time they entered high school, 67 percent of these girls' mothers had established careers outside the home.
Based on Dr. Rimm's findings and those reported by Forsyth in her book, here is a comprehensive list of things you should do to nurture high achieving women:
- Provide a healthy example.
- Allow your daughter to see fully who you are.
- Show your daughter that you are proud to be a woman.
- Make sure you give your daughter as much direction and time as are given to sons.
- Help your daughter to discover the things she likes to do, wants to try to do, and doesn't like to do.
- Reinforce how wonderful and worthy your daughter is of her own life.
- Allow your daughter to be her own person.
- Let your daughter be free to make her own solid choices.
- Help your daughter to remain strong and happy through the period of adolescence by holding onto a strong self-image.
- Try to focus on her strengths, intelligence, and problem-solving ability; don't dwell on her inadequacies.
- Encourage your daughter to develop dreams, focusing primarily on those that are obtainable.
- Help her to develop traits that are considered primarily masculine traits—assertiveness and proficiency in math and science—that will help her in life.
- Make sure your daughter stays productive, not idle and wasteful of time.
- Encourage your daughter to speak up for herself and not let her back off from difficulties.
- Encourage your daughter to be realistic about her strengths and weaknesses.
- Help her to bounce back after the unexpected.
- Teach your daughter to find the value in qualities that separate her from others or make her different.
- Teach your daughter to familiarize herself with women who are active, productive contributors.
- Encourage her to seek leadership opportunities.
- Be determined for both of you to think outside the box.
- Set high educational expectations.
- Make education a high priority and stress the need for her to stay academically challenged.
- Teach your daughter it's possible to be smart without being the smartest.
- Introduce many and varied activities into your daughter's life and help her learn to balance them.
- Encourage competitive activities.
- Broaden your daughter's horizons through travel.
- Stress the unimportance of popularity and the value of independence from peers.
- Help your daughter to see the value in creativity, challenges, and contributions.
- Be opened-minded about your daughter's career path, whether it is traditional or nontraditional.
- Encourage your daughter to select a mate who will respect her choices.