By Trish Allison
Now that you have defined ‘respect’ together, let’s connect ‘respect’ and ‘self-respect.’ One way to pivot the conversation from ‘respect’ to ‘self-respect’ is to discuss simple definitions of self-respect together.
Here are some ideas for simple definitions:
- When you set boundaries that you don’t let others cross.
- When you accept yourself for who you are, no matter what others say.
- When you feel good about yourself and know you deserve to be treated fairly.
Let her tell you which definition she likes the best. You want her to feel like she has an equal stake in the conversation.
Play a game where you both think of everything you love about yourself. You can start by listing the wonderful things about yourself. This will allow her to see clearly your own self-love and will give her permission to do the same.
When it’s her turn and she shares things that she likes about herself, discuss it with her extensively. For example, if she tells you she thinks of herself as a kind person because when no one would play with someone during school recess one day, she comforted that person and spent recess talking to her and getting to know her.
Ask her questions about why she comforted the girl at recess and how it made her feel. Ask her more questions about the incident. Try to lead her into saying out loud (again) that she thinks she’s a kind person.
Or maybe she’ll tell you that she always keeps her word to others. She considers herself very reliable because she always does what she says she’s going to do. Or maybe she considers herself to be trustworthy because when someone tells her something in confidence, she keeps it a secret.
Whatever she tells you, the goal here is to make a big deal about the traits she considers admirable about herself.
Then connect the traits she admires about herself with self-respect. Give her an example of when you chose to respect your own boundaries.
Maybe someone tried to cut you off in the Starbucks line? Grocery store line? Tell her that your inner dialogue said “Wait. That’s not fair to me.”
Ask her if she can think of an example of someone who tried to cross her boundaries and she stuck up for herself. When she offers her own example, pay extra attention to it. Ask her what made her decide it wasn’t fair to her, what she said/did, what was the outcome?
Dwell on her decision to respect herself so she gets a healthy dose of experiencing what self-respect feels like. This is a great opportunity for the concept of self-respect to fully sink in.
Another suggestion is for you to find a role model who exudes self-respect and point out that person (Beyonce? Lady Gaga?). Even if the role model you point out seems obnoxiously self-involved, talk about how you can tell that person would never let anyone take advantage of her.
The goal of this suggestion is to give your daughter a visual role model of self-respect — someone she could hypothetically ask herself ‘Would Beyonce let someone do that to her? Probably not.’
Continue to think of ways, together, that you can practice self-respect as you go about your busy lives. Return to the conversation and compare notes. She might have more questions as she goes out into the world and practices what you discussed. That’s good. It means she heard you.
Take time to answer her questions thoroughly. Make it an ongoing conversation.
Stay tuned for part 3 (‘Define Boundaries Together’) of “How to Help Your Daughter Understand Consent.”
Trish Allison is the founder and writer of the P.I.N.K. Backpack gender-equality book series for parents. Visit her website at www.pink-backpack.com