In theory, I am a perfect mother. I have three grown up confident daughters, (well, today they're fine), and I teach parents how to parent. I am employed as a 'Parenting Expert' in the media. The truth is, although personal and professional experience really helps, like any parent reading this, I don't find parenting easy.
I have always wanted to have children, but the reality of parenthood hit me like a sledgehammer. Fortunately, I found the right kind of help to make parenting much more straightforward and enjoyable. That's why I trained to coach parents accept what is normal, have more fun, and see their confidence rise.
When my mum died after a long fight with Alzheimer's, grief threw me an opportunity to consider her legacy to me, and my three daughters. A friend said to me, "We all leave our shadow behind". So what is my mum's shadow? What will mine be to my darling daughters so they have what they need to thrive in the modern world?
Big questions came up like:
'What has she left me with?'
'If I knew this was my last day, what do I want to leave my daughters with?'
' What kind of parent do I really want to be?'
This prompted a long hard look at what I had learned in 25 years of parenting daughters, and coaching parents to change their parenting for the better.
I asked hundreds of parents and daughters, for their best tips and advice on what it takes to parent a daughter well, given the pressures 21st century life. I found their answers honest, useful and sometimes hilarious. I have gathered their answers with my own experience and some timeless wisdom from my mum ' Marmar' into a new book: '7 Secrets of Raising Girls Every Parent Must Know. '
My seven secrets in a nutshell are:
1. Mother Nature -
Your daughter will go through physical, mental and emotional changes as she grows up. Have a basic understanding of what is happening to her, and what she needs most from her parents at each stage.
2. Values -
Focus on the most important life skills, morals and values you want to pass on to your daughter.
3. V signs-
Replace anxiety for common sense around the danger zones of technology, self-esteem, friends, body image and sex + relationships.
4. Dads -
Never underestimate how valuable your role is, and use your power wisely.
5. Mums -
Ditch the guilt, and spend your time on what energises you to be the role model you want your daughter to have.
6. Village - They say it takes a village to raise a child. Build a great community to help you, and inspire your daughter.
7. Patience - There is no rush. Slow down and make room to collect the treasures of raising a daughter
You were born with what you need to help your daughter grow up, leave home and make the most of her life. Parenting books, experts and media opinions can cause you to doubt that. I hope my book will reassure you, and help you create a lovely story to tell in the future of how you raised your daughter.
It helps take the pressure off when we can pool our wisdom, our humour and our stories on raising our girls. Please share yours at www.darlingdaughters.org
Judy Reith is the author of 7 Secrets of Raising Girls Every Parent Must Know, published by Vie books.