Being a parent is one of the most rewarding and difficult tasks on the planet. There’s a lot of joy and a lot of anxiety.
One thing I think about a lot is that I only have so many years left before my daughter won’t want to spend her birthdays hanging out with me anymore. There’s a lot I want to teach her, so I don’t have much time to waste.
I wanted to learn how I can be better for my daughter as she grows into a young woman, so I got in touch with one of the coolest, most successful and badass women I know: Juliet Starrett. She’s the CEO of The Ready State, an attorney, and a champion athlete. She’s also a mother of two teen girls and has managed not to tear out all her hair, so she’s got a lot to say about parenting girls in today’s world.
This post and 2-episode Autonomy podcast episode explore what we can do to raise our daughters to become strong women.
- Topic: Raising Strong Girls
- Rant Factor: 😟😠💪
- Fitness-ness: 🧠❤️👪
- Topic: Raising Strong Girls
- Rant Factor: 😟😠💪
- Fitness-ness: 🧠❤️👪
What It’s About
Navigating the real issues when it comes to raising healthy, strong, and well-adjusted girls in today’s world. Also, Snapchat.
👇 Scroll down for the full show notes, links, and rants 👇
Key Points: Raising Strong Girls
Challenges of Raising Girls in Today’s World
- Social Media: There’s a thousand ways to do social media as a parent, it’s possible none of us are getting it quite right
- Body Image: You don’t have to be a size 2 to wear spandex, tactics to instill body positivity
- Sex, Porn, Difficult Conversations: This conversation is going to happen when you least expect it, have it early
- Technology, Self-Regulation, Sleep : Phones are like heroin, how to make a constrained environment
What do we really want for our daughters?
- Relationships & Community: Participating in the community, modeling good relationships
- Role Models: There are many measures of success, role models can show what is possible
- Letting Go: Your children’s job as they grow is to learn how to separate from you, letting go of them and your own expectations
- Resources: Links to everything mentioned in the podcast
- The Future: Help us decide which episodes to record next
“I feel like the jury’s out on my success until my kids are 25.”
~ Juliet Starrett
Dealing with Social Media as a Parent
- One of the biggest challenges we face today as parents is the role of social media in our kids’ lives. One of the biggest struggles we have is whether to allow it, when to allow it, how much, how much to restrict, how much not to restrict.
- It’s a real challenge because it’s so much easier in a world where what lifts us up as people and makes us feel good and brings joy to our life is that human interaction participating in the community, giving back to others like that. Those are things that lift us up. And focusing on a device all the time often doesn’t lift us up.
- Maybe it’s an assumption that receiving your validation that way as a human is not great, but it has nothing to do with who they are or what they’re into or how they show up in the world or anything.
- It’s interesting because when we were in middle school and high school, we had cliques. So they’ve figured out these digital ways to do that. And so even if you follow your own kid on social media, they are an Instagram for example, chances are, they have three other Instagram accounts that you have no idea about. Who knows what they’re doing in there? Who knows who they’re including and excluding.
- One of the things that my mom hammered into me as a person, and I hope I am passing along to my kids, is the idea of inclusion on all levels.
Instilling Positive Body Image
- Body image is a huge thing for girls, as it relates to social media.
- Growing up in the eighties and nineties, if you were skinny, you look good. One evolution we’ve had is that we have done a better job as a society welcoming all different body types.
- There’s this whole body positive movement. You can still wear spandex if you’re not a size two.
- But nevertheless, what really saved me not having a Kate Moss body type in high school was being an athlete.
- Being around us, my daughters have learned to see strong bodies and fast, athletic endurance bodies and all kinds of bodies. And we’ve tried to teach them that their body’s a tool for whatever they want to do.
- One of the things that is so important about nutritional health is actually just cooking food and learning how to do that.
- A really key point is body image is a part of your identity. It’s not a thing that you just look at it in a mirror. It’s not separate from you. It’s an identity thing. And so if we want our children to have a good body image, or to be confident in our bodies, or to at least accept their bodies, they have to understand that that’s a part of their identity and they have to be able to be building that sort of sense of self around what they look like and how that interacts with the other parts of them.
- One of our values as a family is that you have to move your body, but how you do it is your choice.
- Every kid should be doing something physical whether that’s walking their dog or playing ping pong or dance or ballet. You name it. There’s a thousand ways kids can be physical. Whether a kid describes themselves as an athlete, it’s so clutch that every kid learns how to use their body in some way. And in a way that brings them joy.
- It’s important to have really open discussions with girls at an early age about how complex it is for women in our culture when it comes to body image and that genetics plays such a role in the way our bodies look in ways that we can’t control. At some point, we have to learn how to find peace with what we’ve been given as far as our physical stature.
- Even an 8 or 10 year old would be old enough to really have a frank discussion about how this is actually a challenge for girls and women. It’s not too early to start talking about why it’s a challenge and both the positive and negative external influences that come to play and how there is room to look a whole variety of ways in this world and that’s okay.
Sex, Porn, Difficult Conversations
- Porn is ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. It’s free and available and it can’t be stopped. It’s something that changes expectations for boys. It changes expectations for girls.
- Denial is the force we have to fight against as parents because it is scary.
- A study said that people who have the healthiest sexual relationships are in Denmark and their value as a culture is that they’re really open about sex. They talk about it. They assume teenagers are having it. They don’t assume they’re not. They assume they are and they actually create a space for it to happen.
- Read Girls & Sex and Boys & Sex by Peggy Orenstein. An important point from those books is that boys in particular are getting their Sex Ed from porn. And mutual pleasure is not even part of the discussion.
- You have to talk about it early. You have to actually say the words porn and tell them what the challenges around porn are. You actually might need to say with actual words what the porn playbook is and why that’s not what a normal sexual relationship looks like.
- When it comes to sexual assault, alcohol is this gigantic contributor. Alcohol mutes everybody’s everything and is part of the reason why kids get into uncomfortable situations, make bad decisions where consent starts to get really blurry.
- One of the stories from Peggy Orenstein, she said that that gay kids actually are much better at figuring out consent than heterosexual kids. There’s this well understood phrase which is, you are with a partner and you say, “What are you into?” And then also you have a better chance of actually having a mutually satisfying experience, because you’re actually going to have a slight conversation about, “What are we doing here?”
- We tend to have this outdated notion that this is going to be at the parent’s convenience that, “Oh, when the time is right, we’re going to sit down and we’re going to have the talk,” right? No, it’s going to come when you least expect it. It’s going to come when your child decides that they need to mention something and we have to be able to have that relationship and that trust already there for that to happen.
- I have no idea if my way of being radically open about this topic with my kids is the way to do it. We shall see. We shall see, but I’m hopeful.
“Andy, if some girl was sending you like sexy texts when you were in high school, at 11:30 PM, would you have been like, ‘No, I’m not going to look at my phone. I’m gonna leave it in the kitchen.'”
Technology, Self-Regulation, Sleep
- Perhaps the biggest problem is, and this is kids and adults alike is, the loss of sleep from continuous phone and technologies.
- Kids can not self regulate and I wouldn’t have been able to at my kid’s age either.
- At some point kids have to learn to self-regulate their phone use because we need to send them off into the world as adults and hope that they’ve learned how to self-regulate.
- But the problem with technology is, especially phones, it is like heroin.
- Kelly calls us a constrained environment, but it’s just like a constrained environment is where you have no choice but to do one thing and in our house, when it’s time to sleep, you need to sleep. And that’s your only choice. Your technology devices are collected and not put in a place where you can get them.
- The way I see it as this is protective. We value sleeping as a family. We really think sleeping is gigantically important, and we actually talk about it in our professional life. So we feel like it’s our obligation to protect our kids’ sleep. They cannot do it themselves.
- It doesn’t really matter sometimes what the exact rule is, but just setting rules and expectations and making it really clear that we have these things because we value sleep.
What do we really want for our daughters?
“Most of our parenting strategy has been to model what we hope for them by creating community, participating in our community.
We have so many different kinds of people in our life. And I think my kids are able to see success means so many different things.”
Building Relationships and a Sense of Community
- I want them to be healthy and happy. I want them to have healthy relationships. I think that’s at the core, but I also am conscious of feeling like they’re very privileged and with that comes like a little bit of obligation. So, at least I’m trying to instill in them that yes, they want to focus on themselves and find professions that they love. But that can’t be their whole mission in life, that they need to actually care about their communities and participate in whatever kind of makes them excited.
- There’s a Harvard study where they looked at people towards the end of their years looking back at the things that they really regretted and the things that they were proud of. All of the things that we chase after, that make our lives easier in the middle, most of them don’t amount to greater satisfaction later on. And the biggest regrets people have are not having better relationships. Not being a better friend, a better husband, mother, father, sister, brother, et cetera, and not having tighter relationships with people in their community.
- Someone was asking, “Why do you think you and Kelly had been successful in business?” We have some things we’re good at, but I actually think maybe one of our greatest gifts is the ability to create community around us.
- We’ve worked really hard to create a local community, both with our neighbors and our friends in the greater neighborhood who are around and really part of our kids’ lives. One of the reasons that our marriage is successful is we both realized early on that you can’t get all your needs met by a single human.
- I really value having deep and important friendships in my life. I have many of those and I’m drawn to keeping people in community around me at all times. So, most of our parenting strategy has been to model what we hope for them by creating community, participating in our community.
- We really value the whole community piece above all. And honestly, after owning a gym for 15 years, we did a fine job at the exercising piece and we got a lot of people pretty fit, but where we really got it right was creating community.
- Giving back, caring about something beyond yourself and your own personal interest is one of our huge values that we’ve been trying to instill in our kids. And again, we just do that by making sure that we’re good members of our community and that we participate and contribute.
Providing (and Becoming) Positive Role Models
- One of the things we actually did at our gym and it is one of the things I will always be the most proud of is we consciously and specifically hired people that didn’t have a certain body type.
- All of our coaches were athletic. They were good coaches, they understood movement, but they did not all conform from a body type standpoint. It’s important that my kids were able to see that. We could do more of that in the fitness industry– we’re kind of getting a D in that generally speaking– is to feature more people who have different bodies.
- In my local community and many of my local friends are actually not athletes at all and actually have a very wide array of body types. That’s also great for my kids to see.
- We have so many different kinds of people in our life. My kids are able to see what success means and success means so many different things, which is another thing I’ve been trying to instill into my kids.
- I have this very diverse group of women in my life all who I have unequivocal mad respect for and I think having those women in my life, this is regardless of what any mom listening to this does, making sure that you have a cadre of women around you, that your daughters get to know and see, is one way to make sure that they’re seeing what’s possible in the world.
- Create community and include your kids with that so that they can see what’s possible. There are many measures of success.
Learning to Let Go
- One of the challenges as you raise teenagers in particular is their whole job is to figure out how to separate from you. There’s a graph that shows that by the time they’re 14, they’re getting 50% of their life advice from you and 50% from their peers and then 15, it’s 60/ 40.
- So your influence is going downhill as they go through their high school years, which is natural. We’ve been trying to set it up but no matter what, there’s external influences that you can’t control.
- There’s a thousand things that happen as a parent that require letting go of what you thought it was going to be or what you hoped it was going to be.
Like links? Here’s a few things to click:
Hey, so that’s all we’ve got! Like Juliet said, it’s hard to say if what we talked about in this episode will bear out over time. We could be way off the mark, but like most of life’s big concerns, parenting isn’t an exact science.
At the risk of being overly self-referential, that’s part of why we recommend autoregulation and continual reassessment at GMB: Assess, address, apply… and re-assess.
The only way to really learn and keep getting better is to practice with an open mind. And at some point, we’ll have to let go, hopefully with the knowledge that we’ve done our best to teach our kids what we could teach them and loved them the best we knew how. That might happen sooner than we’d like, so we have to appreciate what time we have.
👉 Now go show your kids you love them.
Be sure to catch the next episode by subscribing to the GMB Show: