In AON: Family, Parenting

Parents, You Matter Most!

On June 5th, Miss America officials announced they are dropping the swimsuit competitions from the pageant (they are also trading the term pageant for competition.) Why end this 100 year tradition? Officials noted a desire to focus less on appearance and instead on achievements, talents, and ambition.

Following this announcement, Dr. Meg Meeker, best selling author and pediatrician, lauded the decision as good news for our daughters in her article, “Value, Confidence, and Body Image: what the Miss America News Can Teach our Daughters, and Us.”

“The more our daughters see examples of women who are praised for their strength and intelligence, the more our daughters will want to be strong and intelligent…[and] the less they will internalize the belief that they are only as valuable as their bodies.”

Dr. Meeker has worked as a pediatrician for over 30 years. Through her practice, she has seen first hand the impact attentive parents can have on the health, self image, and confidence of their daughters. We are also privileged to have had her as a guest on our Stronger Families OXYGEN Show to discuss her best selling book: Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.

In her response, Dr. Meeker took the opportunity to not only praise Miss America, but she turned around and emphasized the responsibility parents have.

“What matters even more than Miss America to your daughter is what you think about her, and how you tell her what you think about her.”

She provides two tangible actions parents can do to provide a healthy outlook for our daughters.

First, tell your daughter you believe in her.

She recounts a wonderful example of a frustrating time in her life when her father’s belief gave her the hope she needed to follow her career path as a doctor.

“In September 1979, my father spoke a single sentence that changed my life. I…had been rejected from several medical schools, so I was living at home pondering Plan B. One evening, I overheard my father talking to a friend on the phone.

‘I’m excited to tell you that my daughter, Meg, will be starting medical school next fall. She’s not quite sure where, though…’

My father believed something about me that I couldn’t yet believe myself….I felt thrilled and excited because my father’s confidence gave me hope.”

Second, she cautions to compliment the right way — character over appearance.

“Make an effort to pick out one or two character qualities you see in your daughter and applaud her for those. If she is compassionate, tell her that this trait makes you proud of her. If she decided not to quit something even when it was difficult, tell her that you are proud of her perseverance.”

As Dr. Meeker emphasizes, parents have the most influence over their child’s life.

For a very special example of how a dad can make a difference and bring confidence to his daughter even at the earliest ages, don’t miss this adorable, unforgettable YouTube video. It is of a daddy dancing on stage to help his little ballerina get over her stage fright. First grab a box of kleenex, because if you’re like us, this sweet scene will bring tears of joy!

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