“I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story. I will.” – comedian Amy Schumer
March is Women’s History Month.
The three co-founders here at Piper+Enza, as well as most of our in-house experts, are women and mothers, and many of us have the challenge and privilege of having daughters.
The world we grew up in as young women (now in our 30s and 40s) is very different from the world our daughters are living in today—and changing by the minute, it seems. There is so much information being thrown at them (and us) from every direction that it can feel impossible to determine what messages and conversations will support and empower our girls to be confident in who they are and work toward what they want in life.
So the big, looming question for so many mothers out there is:
What can we do to raise the next generation of strong, compassionate, independent, intelligent women?
There isn’t one right answer, of course, but we thought it would be helpful to talk to the moms and mom-experts on our team about what WE are doing in our homes, with our girls (and boys!), as well as sharing some resources we found to be useful.
Rita, founder, mom of 2 girls:
My husband and I have one goal for our girls—for them to live a fulfilled life. With that as our north star, we center our parenting practices on giving the girls space to learn, to fall, to hurt, and to heal. We make sure to cheer them on when they’re faced with challenges, and celebrate their victories. We make sure we are there for hugs and kisses when they need comfort and security.
We have been lucky to have a village around us that shares similar values. And it is with this village we hope to raise our children to be empathetic, independent and strong.
Mary, child psychologist, mom of 2 (1 girl):
As one of four sisters growing up, we were taught by my parents to hold our own, to stand up for what we believe in, and to continue being strong-willed and bold as women. Now, as a mom to a reserved, yet strong-willed 3.5 year old, I consciously try to instill the same values. I hope to push her past her fears, to continue building her confidence that she can and will do hard things, and to take her lead in showing me what her strengths and likes are in this world. I hope to continue to follow her strengths and help guide her the way she has guided me on how to become a mama. She is my forever muse and I am truly in awe of her, every single day.
My husband and I remind her daily of how proud we are of her, remind her that she is brave and strong, to continue instilling her confidence from within, and for her to know that she is perfectly imperfect. A woman’s strongest asset is knowing her worth, deeply and confidently. I see my job as nurturing this mindset from within so that she feels confident and secure in every and any avenue she wishes to embark on.
Giselle, healing specialist, mom of 4 (1 girl):
A part of me was afraid of having a girl, so at age 15, I decided that I would only have boys. And you know the saying, “When you make plans, God laughs?” That was true for me. So my firstborn was a girl.
I decided, the day she was born, that I would be very intentional in raising her to be able to speak her mind, to acknowledge her gifts (beyond the physical attributes), to take up space in the world, and to feel safe and secure in herself and life. I also wanted to be a part of her life as a teenager and a resource anytime she needed me.
I learned from countless women, as I heard their stories of their mothers, what to do and what not to do to achieve my purpose in raising my daughter.
Today she’s 17 years old, she’s intelligent, is capable of taking up space and speaking her mind, she feels safe and secure, and she’s on track to pave her way in this world with resilience, strength, and the knowing that others are there for her at all times.
I believe the best we can do for our daughters is to let them shine, reserve judgment, squash generational oppressive biases of females, and allow them space to form their own identity in their way.
Many good men acknowledge that women are superior to men in many ways. And I believe the Earth is feminine, and so is God. Beyonce was right when she said, “Who runs the world? Girls.”
She’ll forever be my baby, and I’m so thankful to have had a girl as my firstborn. Spirit knew that I had many lessons to learn and much to give, and as always, it worked out exactly as it should.
Katie, child life specialist, mom of 2 (1 girl):
My mom stayed home to care for myself and my brother until we were in high school. She was, and has continued to, maintain a balance of strength and gentleness that has shaped me to be the mother I am today.
When I think about teaching my children to be strong, it has less to do with the physicality of our bodies and more to do with a deep understanding of what their internal desires are. When I think about teaching them to be graceful, it has less to do with being delicate and more to do with gently riding the ebb and flow of life.
I often fail at these important lessons, but sometimes I get it right. I’m grateful to my parents for instilling in me the, “you can do anything you want to,” mentality and I’m so glad to pass that onto my daughter.
Taraneh, co-founder, mom of 2 (1 girl):
My almost 8-year-old girl has been spicy, spirited, and determined from day 1. Hours after she was born, lying in her bassinet at the hospital, she lifted her head and shoulders off the mattress and appeared to look around at her new world. We were, understandably, shocked. And every day since then, she’s shown us her strength, curiosity, and incredible sense of self.
So I see it as my job to nurture and encourage and learn from this amazing little human the best way I can, even when the powerful qualities she possesses feel …. challenging. Increasingly, I find myself processing her words, questions, and actions for a few extra beats before responding, focusing on how I can best serve her as her understanding and point-of-view expands.
We try to set an example for her, not as perfect people, but as people who are trying their best, who make mistakes and try to learn from them, who treat others with respect and kindness, and who strive for happiness and balance.
I can’t wait to see how she will make her way in this world as she grows, and I hope that I can protect that determined, headstrong nature that will serve her well through life’s many challenges.
Maria, co-founder, mom of 1 (a boy—this impacts our future women, as well!):
As a mom of an 8 year-old boy, raised by my mother and grandmother without my dad, I found myself making sure that my son knows we are all equal. It is hard when he sees other boys his age not having to do “women’s chores” but I think it is really important in this day and age to have these talks with our boys. My goal is to make sure that as women get to run more and more companies, more men can decide to be stay at home dads without any stigma.
Well, that’s all she wrote! Thank you for reading, and let us know what you think! Below, we’ve linked some additional resources that you might find helpful.
PBS: Raising a Powerful Girl
Girl Scouts: Raising Awesome Girls
5 Ways to Raise Strong Daughters in a World That Can Be Tough on Women