You’ve had the birds-and-bees conversation with your daughter, and you’re relieved that that’s finally off your plate. There are so many other issues on a young girl’s mind, though. If you’re not sure what she needs to hear, here’s a list of things that every young woman ought to know about.
Honesty is the best policy. If you’ve ever smoked, tell her everything that you hate about it. If you’ve never tried it, explain why. Understand that as an invincible teen, health is not her top priority, so appeal to her sense of maturity and responsibility.
2. Weight control
You can’t change society’s ideals, but you can teach your daughter about healthy weight control. Don’t worry that this discussion will trigger new concerns about her weight – she already has those. Explain that it’s OK to worry about weight in the context of overall health, and that there are safe ways to control it.
Honesty might not be the best policy here. Moderate alcohol consumption is too deeply integrated into our society, and it simply isn’t as dangerous as smoking. If you drink at home, you can be sure that she will too. The best you can offer your daughter is a 100% guaranteed punishment-free rescue card if she’s ever in a drunk-driver situation.
No one knows why, but girls are biologically catty, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Don’t scare your daughter away from having friends, but do explain that while some of the friendships she has now will be deep and lasting, the ones that turn sour are absolutely no fault of hers.
5. Having children
Uh, isn’t it a little early? Well, no. As the years go by, young women who wait too long to start a family find it more difficult to do so. She doesn’t have to start making lists of baby names now, but she should be aware that it’s not a decision that can be put off indefinitely.
It’s tricky to encourage conservative dressing without reinforcing your daughter’s notions that something is wrong with her body. Monitor her media consumption closely, and gently steer her toward wholesome role models.
7. Personal care
Somewhere between wearing clown make-up and refusing to shower is a happy medium that will help your daughter look and feel her best without neglecting her health or over-sexualizing her appearance.
8. Financial responsibility
Show her how you pay the rent or mortgage. Have her make grocery shopping decisions. Teach her about online banking and credit cards. These are skills that she’ll need for the rest of her life, and it’s never too early to start learning them.
Maybe your daughter seems proud to be a math whiz or a gifted musician, but chances are that she feels some discomfort at being set apart from the crowd. Reinforce the idea that everyone is good at something, and that she’s lucky to have found her calling early.
Even CEOs have to go home sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with knowing how to wash a load of delicates or clean a coffee pot. Learning how to maintain a house isn’t going to stop her from becoming a rocket scientist.
Although having more lifestyle choices has freed young women to create their own unique stories, it has made deciding the course of those stories ever more difficult. It seems like a paradox, but the more independent she is, the more guidance she should receive. She doesn’t know what questions to ask, but you can give her the answers she doesn’t even know she needs.