As a parent, one of the best things you can do for your daughter is to listen to her. Young girls often look up to their mothers as role models, but this can quickly fade away if you brush aside their questions and needs.
In an opinion published last Sunday, the author, Sunny Ntayombya, really made an impact on me not only as an ardent New Times reader, but also as a mother to an eight year old girl.
Ntayombya’s piece was titled “Girls, will you blaze your own paths?”
I don’t intend to contest his opinion of our society doing a lot better in terms of giving girls the freedom to do what they choose. Instead, I wish to add some few points that might appear contradictory to his opinion.
First, I agree with Ntayombya that, just like boys, girls should be allowed to pursue the career path they want, but I highly disagree that they should be allowed to live life the way they choose. I am saying this bearing in mind that these are teenagers.
I also disagree that these girls should be allowed to dress as they wish. I was once a teenager, so I know the changes these girls are presently undergoing physically, emotionally and even in terms of attitude.
Your little baby girl may start out as a sweet, polite child and then puberty hits and one day, you are left with an emotional time bomb. As a parent, you may not know where to begin to help your daughter deal with all her daily challenges.
Many of my readers have called me a feminist due to the strong stand on the modern woman and equality. However, a lot of these views may have changed with time, which I attribute to my daughter, Ivory.
Gone are the days when I thought my mother was so old fashioned that I wished she would offer me no advice on life.
In my imagination, I first thought of myself as too beautiful and thought that I was God’s gift to the human race. I mean in the 20th century, how would my 57-year old mother know anything about fashion, love, relationships or anything else apart from just sitting and getting old.
I was bewildered that Ntayombya clearly told the girls that “nobody loved them more than they loved themselves.
That no one, not their parents, not their teachers, not their society had the right to dictate to them what they were supposed to do with their lives.”
Really? In this day and age, should parents allow their daughters to live life the way they choose? With all the challenges our daughters are facing nowadays, it is unsurprising that depression is common among teenage girls.
The pressure to fit in or to look like a model in a magazine is overwhelming.
So, is the African that I am supposed to let Ivory come home with a lace dress and lingerie underneath just because that’s what she feels like?
By taking the time to listen to your daughter on a continual basis, you will learn about her concerns and problems before it is too late for your intervention. Parents are the strongest influence on their children’s lives and without a proper role model; your daughter will begin looking to other sources for self worth.