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How to Raise a Strong Woman

By Ana-Maria Temple, MD on 10/11/2016 | General

Over the past 15 years since having my daughter Allie, I have worked hard to raise a strong woman; a woman who can see past the negativity and unrealistic expectations that come with life.  In teen world, the unending effort to fit in, to be noticed and to be liked can quickly change into a vortex of self-doubt and negativity. In adult world, the buzz words in female circles are perfection, work-life balance, doing it all and having it all which result in a very daunting outlook for a young girl. So here are ten ways I’m working to raise a strong woman:

1. Making me a priority! Kids do not always listen to what we say, but they pay very close attention to what we do. Over the past 15 years, I have learned how to take care of myself. I buy fresh foods and make recipes that feed my body, not my cravings. Sleep is a priority and fitness is an appointment that I keep with myself several times a week, despite a busy professional and personal schedule.  

2. The power of words! Girls, of any age, are sensitive to negative comments that surround them, even if they are not directed at them. Thus, I don't make derogatory remarks about myself. It can be a real challenge at times but with practice, I have learned to praise my body, discuss my strengths, and appreciate who I am. It’s okay to compliment yourself out loud!

3. The importance of compliments! Admiring other women illustrates self-confidence. I have never been good at shallow niceties. However, I take the time to praise a woman on her accomplishments as a mother, a friend, or a professional whenever the opportunity arises. It takes a strong woman to appreciate and compliment another without jealousy.

4. Food: Friend or enemy?  From starvation to food addiction, people’s relationships with food can be complicated. In my house, food is discussed on how it helps the body. We do not discuss fat or thin and those words have little meaning. However, a food conversation may illustrate how choosing sugary breakfast options can mean choosing headaches and fatigue every morning while selecting fruits and eggs is opting for a clear and focused mind.

5. Fitness is more than just muscles! Fitness improves posture and standing straight creates confidence. Fitness builds a strong mind that can think clearly, increases energy, and lowers anxiety thus decreasing self-doubt. 

6. Lending a hand! A handshake is often the first impression in a human encounter. Thus, we have practiced firm handshakes with great eye contact as a standard first impression from a very young age in our home.

7. Listening! In the morning and right after school, I close my laptop or put my phone down when Allie walks into the room. My eyes are on her. She is the important thing in that moment. It’s a simple thing with a huge impact. 

8. Fostering independence! From middle school on, Allie has had to do her work, keep up with her work, and perform to the best of her abilities. I keep an eye on her from the periphery, but she is in charge of failures and success. Lessons learned from failure are as important as those learned from success. 

9. Embracing shortcomings! I am not afraid of admitting when I am wrong, that I am not perfect, when mistakes have been made, and when things could have been handled differently. Things do not always happen as planned but how we choose to react and handle our short comings is an important life lesson. Our family dinners are the platform for such discussions.

10. Hard work! Before medical school and since, I have not encountered a job that is too small, too demeaning, or unimportant. It all counts. It takes courage and humility to start from the bottom and there are lessons to be learned every step of the way.

How do you encourage your girl to be joyful, healthy and confident as she grows older?

 

Ana-Maria Temple, MD

Author

Ana-Maria is a General Pediatrician who has worked at hospitals across the country and is currently with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic in Charlotte, NC. Along with treating children and teaching them about nutrition, Ana-Maria is a mother of three and blogs at MC2Charlotte

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