"There is a central paradox: If we want our daughters to think for themselves, that means we have to give up some of our own influence. If we train them to always take orders from us, they will shift and take orders from the next authority that comes along, and that could be the girl culture, boys putting pressure on them, or even drugs.
So we have to give girls strong roots when they are young and allow them to spread their wings as they grow up. This mean allowing them to express their anger at us, as this is a huge part of establishing independence, using their voices, and developing real self-confidence."
Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D.
Co-author, Mom, They're
"Some mothers become anxious when their daughters get angry. They may try to resolve their daughters' anger before the girls are ready to talk it out. This can convey to a girl that her anger is a problem, even a crisis, and communicate that her feelings are unacceptable," says Rachel Simmons.
"If you cannot tolerate your daughter's anger, you teach her that anger is not OK and she may start to suppress it. But when anger is not properly expressed, girls start talking behind each others' backs — and may engage in self-destructive behaviors or become depressed," adds Simmons.
"It's important to understand too that 'bossy,' 'mean' (or later on in her teens, 'bitchy') are names people call girls who speak up for themselves, ask for what they want, or say no to things they don't want," notes Lyn Mikel Brown. "It's hard to encourage your daughter to speak her thoughts and feelings, knowing she could get labeled like this. Talk with her about these stereotypes and double standards, and offer your support for her courage to speak up."
If your girl acts out, make sure she understands that you are not going to tolerate out-of-control behavior. But it is important to let your daughter be angry so she can learn to be aware of and manage a full range of emotions. In this way, you will make your home a positive counterpoint to the negative aspects of girls' social rules.
Next: The Girl Net