Affirming your daughter's gender identityWritten by Dr. Julia Harron Hamilton
A mother can affirm the gender of her teenage daughter both by the example she sets and in the relationship she forms with her daughter.
Example. A mother who is strong yet nurturing, neither overbearing nor overly passive, helps define femininity as a gender worth embracing.
Positive feedback. A teen needs approval for who she is as well as what she does. A mother should look for ways to praise rather than focus on areas needing improvement, which teens interpret as criticism. Included in this should be positive feedback about the daughter’s femininity.
Just listen. While the mother-daughter bond begins in infancy, one way to build this relationship is for the mother to listen curiously. A mother invites her daughter to open up when she listens with the goal of understanding her daughter’s heart rather than with the intent to correct or teach.
- Validation of feelings. A mother should try to see things from her daughter’s perspective, empathizing with both her experiences and her emotions.
As a mother sets a desirable example, provides positive feedback and develops a close relationship, she helps to affirm her daughter’s sense of gender identity.
Julie Harron Hamilton, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist.
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