Parents are the single most influential figures in helping daughters forge a strong identity. A strong identity can help your daughter to reject the overly sexual images of women that she sees in the media. Girls that have strong identities are less likely to suffer from depression, low self-esteem or lack of confidence, and eating disorders. If you want to raise young girls to develop a strong identity, the following ideas can help.

Find Healthy Outlets

What is your daughter’s passion? Baseball, cello, karate, art, soccer, dance-as long as your daughter is interested, it’s worth encouraging her to develop her skills. Activities offer you as a parent more opportunities to show your daughter that you value her for her personal strengths as opposed to her appearance. Girls who are taught to nurture and develop their passions are likely to incorporate them into their identities instead of trying to tailor their own identities to celebrities they see in magazines, TV shows, and films.

Get Involved in Your Daughter’s Life

Be active in trying to understand what is going on in your daughter’s life. From the age of eight to around thirteen, the television shows, movies, video games, websites, and music your daughter is exposed to will have a tremendous impact on helping her to forge her identity. You need to monitor what she watches through her teenage years. Try to find out who her role models are. Guide her towards positive female role models and discuss values. Instead of simply forbidding her from watching or listening to something that may influence her negatively, use these moments as a way into discussion. Explain why you don’t like them.

Point Out Family Values

Identify and reinforce your family’s values with your daughter. You can do this by creating a family motto, mantra, or tagline. This can help to foster closeness between family members in times of difficulty. While you want your daughter to feel unique within her family, it’s helpful for her to feel like she belongs to a family. Ask yourself if you are modeling these values for her. Leading by example is far more effective than lecturing. Use everyday moments to demonstrate the values you want your daughter to learn. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses and what they may be saying to your daughter.

Give Her a Say

As she gets older, allow your daughter to make some of the decisions that affect her own life. Give her choices within limits or boundaries. She should have a say in choosing her own clothes, after-school activities, and middle or high school timetable. While you may have to make some compromises, it’s important to make your daughter feel like she has a say in her own life. As a parent you may have the foresight to know that she may not enjoy every decision she makes. But she will learn from them. The important thing is to step back and let her make mistakes within reason for herself.

A strong identity can help your daughter grow into a confident and powerful young woman. Her identity comprises her skills, talents, and passions and how she sees herself within the context of your family. Ask yourself if you are modeling the type of identity you want your daughter to have.