Raising Confident Daughtersby Brandon Bennett on 01/11/19
The other day, I had a couple of interesting things happen. First, I was driving a group of young teenage girls to rehearsal. They were discussing an assignment they had done at school. This assignment asked them one question. The question was “Who am I?“ This question upset the girls. I really didn’t understand why until we talked. The answer lies in, as teenage girls they are told many different stories about who they should be. They receive little or no positive affirmation from our culture about who they are. They are often objectified and treated like Barbie dolls or future baby mamas by culture, peers and family.
The next interesting thing I saw was an article on the BBC website. It described how many women were killed in a day in the world. Most of these women are killed by domestic partners. Less are killed by family members. Although this article focuses on the cultural climates in areas by providing profiles of some murdered, I believe that the question of “Who am I?” and the killing of women by domestic partners are connected.
I might be stepping out of my lane a little bit - I teach people about personal protection - but I see two simple ways that we can decrease these numbers.
First, we constantly need to affirm to our daughters, nieces, and the young ladies that are around us, especially in the preteen years, with a positive message about who they are. These messages should not be connected to the way they look. They need to be connected to their character. To young ladies in my martial arts class, I am individually assigning them “tell me who you are”. I say it must be positive, it can’t describe how you look, and give me as many examples as you have years on the earth. Ten years old, 10 things that describe who you are. Simple but not easy.
The second is far more complex. We need to show our daughters how to pick good partners. That means we need to be good examples. Our daughters see how we communicate or disagree with our partner. We show what good relationships look like. We need to talk about the value of our daughters to our daughters. We need to explain to our nieces the signs a relationship is dysfunctional. We need to explain to our granddaughters what a relationship should be based on.
No problem like this is simple. Both solutions take years. You could do the exercise “Who am I?” once and never have an effect. We need to do this daily. We need to do things that affirm our girl’s confidence. Martial arts is only one way. It’s the way I know. I know it works.
As I read the numbers in the BBC article, they’re just numbers to me. But they’re somebody’s daughter. Somebody’s sister. Somebody’s niece. Somebody‘s granddaughter. Don’t let your little girl be a number.