Raising a daughter in 1971 is a very different thing than it was in 1920 or even the ’60s. More is needed and expected from a mother than ever before.
I am 23 and not yet a mother; my advice comes not from personal experience as a parent, but as a daughter, one who was a teenager not so long ago and whose experience and benefits are still very close at hand.
It is true that this generation is more exciting than any before it. But it is also true that a young girl meets more temptation and opportunity than in the past. Drugs are available at even the most protected schools, a “new morality” is widely accepted, skirts are shorter, curfews are later, and chaperones went out with the Model T. With all these temptations so readily seen, girls need to be not only better educated, but better prepared. They need to be very sure of right and wrong without compromise.
So—what do I think a mother should teach her daughter today? First of all, that to be born a female is a blessing that entails certain obligations and responsibilities. Is anything more important than that a mother teach her daughter about sex and chastity? The Latter-day Saint who knows the importance of such knowledge has a priceless gift. Mothers, gifts are for giving. Share this knowledge with your daughter!
Here are some other gifts you can give her:
1. It is not old-fashioned for a girl to know how to prepare a meal. Let her spend time in the kitchen on her own, as well as with you to teach her.
2. Help her develop grace and poise—how to talk, walk, eat, and dress like a lady. Being a lady is an art.
3. Let her develop her talents, whether it be playing the piano, sewing, doing woodwork, or whatever. Let it be her own decision. Perhaps the most important ingredient in a mother-daughter relationship is to let her be her own person. And above all, praise her for her accomplishments.
4. Let her know what a beautiful thing it is to be feminine. Let her choose her own clothes and style her own hair, but be an example for her to follow. Be the kind of woman she wants to be like. If you clean and cook only half-heartedly, find faults in others, or display dissatisfaction with your way of life, she won’t want your advice and guidance. Set the right example.
5. When she starts dating, don’t ignore her need to be noticed as a part of the dating world, as a maturing person soon to enter the adult sphere. Leave a light on till she returns; give her a reasonable hour at which to be home; listen to her if she wants to talk. If you set rules about dating, enforce them. Raising children today should give parents no reason for making excuses or letting down bars just because others do.
6. Make sure she is adorned with praise and principles. If she finds appreciation of herself at home and is armed with righteous principles, chances are she won’t seek recognition and security in an immature situation elsewhere.
7. Give her the value of your experience. Let her know you have had your problems too and still were able to come out on top. Let her know she’s not alone or different.
The world is faster moving and more advanced today than ever before. Progression will always take place, but that’s not your problem. How you approach it is what matters. A mother’s approach must be more persistent, more loving, more exemplary, but not of less value. Facts are facts, girls are girls, values are still and always will be values, and your daughter is your daughter! Invest in her. She’s a very valuable possession—a thing of beauty.