Asian parents can be hard on their daughters. It’s common to hear an adult make a comment on a girl’s looks, the way she dresses and her body size. With many cases of self-esteem issues in young women, it is clear the words we say damaged them and did not help them ‘achieve more’ in life. Here are some of the things we may or may not have said to the growing girls around us and should be changed for the better!
1. You’re a little young for that
Better alternative: “You can achieve whatever you want if you work hard, consider obstacles and learn how to overcome them.”
Every child has dreams and fantasies but when you ask boys and girls what they want to be when they grow up, the answers are really different. Boys will go down the imaginative route by saying they want to be an astronaut or a magician while girls will pick safer routes such as a teacher, a nurse or actress.
These answers may seem better and responsible but also points to a lack of imagination at a young age. This is why if daughters confide in aspirations bigger or ‘riskier’ than the usual, never underestimate them but help guide them. You’ll never know what they can achieve unless you help support them too!
2. Lower your expectations
Better alternative: “Yes, you can!”
When a child expresses her goals and dreams, help them discover their potential instead of telling them it’s not doable. After all, it’s always better to give things a try rather than ponder the what ifs in the future. Everyone is always told to aim high and dashing children’s dreams (even cutting down adults) does not tally at all with the initial advice.
3. That’s a job for a man
For a girl to be able to be fully independent, she has to experience both worlds such as doing the ‘manly’ things like using power tools, driving manual, playing sports and doing the house repairs and the ‘feminine’ activities such as cooking, washing up dishes, doing laundry and caring for kids (when they become parents). If you think about it, guys need to learn to do both ‘manly’ and ‘feminine’ tasks too! It’s all living skills!
4. I’ll do that for you
Parents should be motivating and encouraging but they should be careful not to solve everything for their child. This is to prevent dependency (and to prevent too much culture shock and homesickness) when they leave for college or university. You don’t want them to feel like incompetent adults too. Children need to learn things like responsibility and admit it if they did something wrong. Parents who always swoop in to the rescue will take away that learning opportunity from kids.
5. That’s not ladylike
While it is important to teach girls to sit properly, forcing them to live and behave like the ultimate lady can be harmful. This is because not all girls are girly girls. Some of them are much more comfortable in pants and jeans. Some of them like loud music. They may even not like painting their nails and that is fine too.
Parents sometimes ‘control’ their kids because they are afraid of what other people may say and think and may be following general sexist beliefs without realizing. Just like a parent who is ok with some swearing at home, it is much more important to be a nice and kind person at the end of the day.
6. Girls shouldn’t eat a lot/ You’re fat
A growing child already has to deal with some of life’s challenges and pointing out that she shouldn’t eat a lot when she’s still hungry can be dangerous to her health too. A healthy diet also starts from the home so if you want your child to eat healthily, the adults at home must model it and provide the proper food.
Many teens also develop anorexia or bulimia due to a distorted view of their bodies. Telling a girl that she’s too big or too small can push an already insecure person deeper. Instead, help her find safer ways to keep her body healthy such as inviting her for a jog or gym class or plan an exercise routine if she wants to lose weight. Also, it’ll be good to educate her about good nutrition.
If she feels guilty about eating, listen to her reasoning and try to help change her mindset to a healthier path.
7. You’re too good for him
While the chances of teens staying in a relationship with their childhood sweethearts are slim, it’s still best for parents to keep mum about it. It still doesn’t mean parents should ignore the relationship or be confident that it wouldn’t last.
What parents can do is to get to know their partner and let their daughter know that she can go to them if there are any problems. A girl can only have a healthy relationship if she can be open with her family without fear of being reprimanded. If parents are open with their kids, their kids are less likely to do things behind their backs and lie about it.
Parents also have to be careful that their dislike for the other person is not based on his social status, family or appearance.
Here’s something to think about when we find ourselves trying to change a girl’s behaviour.
Feature image from SheKnows