Imitation theories are theories that describe a child's early identification with and modeling after the same sex parent. These theories contend that children imitate through mimicking what they see, hear, and perceive their same-sex parent doing.
Simply put, girls initially learn from their mothers. They mimic the persona their mothers project for them, according to imitation theories. In a study of 1,000 successful women conducted by Dr. Sylvia Rimm, Ph.D., and described in her book See Jane Win (Crown Publishers, 1999), half of the women identified with their mothers. One quarter identified with their fathers.
You, moms, are who they have their eyes on, even down to how they eat. A September 2000 Elle magazine article reported on a survey taken by the National Dairy Council. Sixty-four percent of the women polled said they follow what their mothers do when it comes to exercise and eating.
Under Your Daughter's Watchful Eye
Being under your daughter's constant scrutiny puts a big responsibility on a mother's shoulder. With every tick of the clock it's impossible to present your tip-top self and be the best role model. Nor can you control her interpretation of your actions, words, and deeds. Nonetheless, here is what you should be aware of.
- It is more important what you show your daughter than what you say. In other words, actions speak louder than words.
- Your daughter sees a very limited you in which there is room for misinterpretation.
- A mother's influence is indelibly etched into her daughter's being.
The Need for Honest Role Modeling
Not showing the entire picture of yourself shortchanges your daughter and sets up unfair or unrealistic expectations. If you try to protect her from the realities of girlhood or womanhood, you won't be preparing her for life. You might, however, inadvertently engender her frustration or plant the seeds for anger and blame that may later be directed at you.