Parenting: Raising Strong, Confident Girls (cont.)

The Girls Inc./Harris poll found that most girls feel that they don't see "themselves" on television, and that the issues they're concerned about -- like divorce, making friends, drugs, and sexuality -- aren't being addressed in a way that speaks to them. "Whether it's TV, magazines, or music, being media critics together offers a real opportunity to have good discussions about the messages girls are getting in their real world," Johnston-Nicholson says.

And don't forget about school -- the other source of so much of your daughter's daily input. "Make sure that the role models they see and the books they read are equitable, and encourage them to express their opinion," Marx says. This means meeting with teachers, taking a close look at the books your daughter reads for class, and asking a lot of questions.

"We can't underestimate the importance of adults in girls' lives. We need to explore how we can help them open doors to their futures by breaking down the stereotypes that hold girls back," says Johnston Nicholson. "Our research tells us that the girls who succeed are the ones who have a loving, secure home environment and adults they can talk to."

Published March 17, 2003

SOURCES: Fern Marx, senior research scientist, Centers for Research on Women, Wellesley College, Cambridge, Mass. Heather Johnston-Nicholson, Ph.D., director of research for Girls Incorporated, based at the National Resource Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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Last Editorial Review: 10/19/2004 8:47:28 AM