Inspiring your daughter to be a healthy, fit, and confident young woman takes more than just driving her to ballet class, emphasizing a longer hemline, and serving up smoothies on Saturdays.
In order to really connect with your daughter and discover how she sees herself and her body, you have to ask the tough questions and be willing to listen with an open heart (and often a shut mouth) as she answers.
No one knows your daughter better than you. That being said, there’s a possibility that you’ve never really asked her about how she sees herself. Do you know if your daughter thinks she is beautiful? Do you know if your daughter thinks she is “fat”?
That’s right! I just said “fat” and “daughter” in the same sentence!
Moms have become so freaked out about discussing weight, food, beauty, and body image with their daughters that the young ladies of today are only talking about these topics with their friends.
As a fitness trainer and food coach for tween and teen girls I’ve discovered that moms can barely stay afloat in their own body drama, and that they often will allow their daughters to drown in the deep end of body shame. What’s so sad is that most moms don’t realize that you don’t have to have it all figured out! You just have to be willing to talk about it.
Over the years, I have found that moms actually ignite healing within themselves when they create an opportunity to dialogue with their daughters. Something magical can happen when you step outside of all your body b*llshit and listen to how this little creature you are raising sees her body and her true beauty. Only then will YOU really start to see your own body in a different way.
Find a way, your own way, to ask your daughter the nine questions at the end of this article. Remember there’s no right way, and there is no perfect answer!
One piece of advice…no matter what your daughter says and no matter how she responds, just acknowledge her real, true answer. Listen. Take it in. It may not be comfortable. That’s OK! Because the more conversations you have, the more YOU will become willing to be uncomfortable.
Every question is meant as a jumping off point. Your daughter’s answers will organically guide you to the next topic SHE wants to talk about. The goal is to ask at least two questions per week. Try not have an agenda, and be open to where the conversation goes. Great times to chat are on special mom and daughter dates, in the car, just before bed, or on a neighborhood walk. Make sure you create a private and safe space so she feels she can be very relaxed and honest with you. Mostly, choose a time and place where you are the most comfortable. Give your daughter the chance to get the best version of you.
After all, can you imagine what our world would be like if every young girl was able to freely talk to and share with their mom how she feels about her body, beauty, and place in the world without feeling dismissed or judged? I truly think it could change the world!
Here are the nine questions every mom should ask her daughter:
1. What are three things you like about the way you look?
2. Name three things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with what you look like.
3. In what ways do you take care of your body and keep it healthy?
4. Do you feel pretty?
5. What makes a girl or woman beautiful to you?
6. Do you eat when you are not hungry? If so, why?
7. When do you feel most proud of who you are?
8. What is your favorite meal? Why?
9. What are you the most afraid of?
*These “Connection Questions” are taken directly from my Mother Daughter fitness workbook, 90 Days to a Stronger Body & Deeper Connection with Your Daughter. I co-authored this book with Holly Clapham after years of creating fitness programs just for moms and their daughters.