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5 simple things we can do to raise brave daughters

Of the many things we inherently imbibe – be it grandma’s stories, mom’s cooking, or a sense of pride in being Indian – girls in India grow up learning an additional concept – safety. The conditioning to stay safe begins early on, takes different forms and shifts shape as we age. This could mean anything from returning home before sunset, wearing ‘appropriate’ clothes or even being vigilant at our places of work. By the time we become mothers, ‘safety first’ – becomes our default.

And while these adages have helped address the safety issue over the years, it’s probably time to take stock and teach the next generation, a few new things about how they can retain control over their identities and define the course of their lives bravely.

Here are five simple adjustments, if practiced right from the teenage years, can help us raise brave daughters:

1. Teach her to tackle small day-to-day problems.

Let her know the difference between a good touch and a bad touch, build confidence in her to speak up when she feels uncomfortable. Teach her to be independent – whether it is her homework, her ability to stand up to bullies in school or managing her pocket money with discretion. Let her know the pride and joy of making her own small decisions.

2. Ensure she is physically fit at all times.

Trusting the ability of our bodies adds to mental strength. When your daughter knows that her health will not fail her, safety will not be a primary concern. Something as simple as using a soap like Hamam that gives her both good skin and protection from the harsh environment, can surely boost her confidence significantly.

3. Find strong female role models as inspirations for your daughter.

They are all around us – P V Sindhu, the first Indian woman player to bring home a silver Olympics medal, Priya Jhingan, the first female recruit in the Indian army or Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy, who fought against the dedication of young girls as Devadasis in the early 20th century. Let your daughter learn from the lives of these women of steel who excelled in their fields and let her know that she is not only worthy but capable of being a leader herself.

4. Give her freedom, encourage her to take risks.

The world is her oyster, and there’s nothing that your daughter cannot achieve. Teach her to drop her inhibitions that held us back – a certain career wasn’t right for girls or a specific educational stream was too demanding. Encourage her ambitions and let her try activities that challenge her. Also develop her self-esteem and skills, if she wants to grow up and become a fire fighter, tell her to go for it!

5. Be a brave mom.

Take the lead in donning a few unconventional hats and breaking a few barriers yourself. Don’t hesitate to pull up that rowdy who’s harassing the young girl on the train and be brave enough to let your daughter realize her dream of sky diving or bungee jumping. Equip her with tools – which could be anything from a cellphone to a self-defense class – to make her feel in control when she’s navigating her environment.

Remember, it’s the brave moms’ daughters who achieve all their dreams!