7 Lessons to Teach Our Daughters About Love

7 Lessons to Teach Our Daughters About Love

Experts offer simple, yet profound, lessons about love to impart to your daughter.

By: Laurie Sue Brockway

Suddenly, your adorable baby girl is a teenager who is very interested in boys and relationships. Having once been a teenage girl, you are tempted to lock her in her room until she is a young adult, only because you want to protect her -- and her heart -- and prepare her! But, as experts point out, moms can start teaching their girls important lessons about love early.

“The most important and influential imprint a relationship can have on a daughter is the one the mother cultivates with herself,” says Julie W. Smith, MHS, a family and adolescent counselor. “Regardless of whether a mother has had ‘good’ or ‘bad’ relationships, it’s how she treats herself that has the biggest impact.”

Here are some simple, yet profound, lessons about love to impart to your daughter.

1. Love thyself, first. It may sound cliché, but self-love goes a long way. Let her know she is worthy of love and that being lovable is not based on how she looks or whether she aces her math test. “Teach her to love herself as a perfectly imperfect person, and move away from the thought that she can only love herself if she is perfect,” says psychologist and resiliency coach Patricia O’Gorman, PhD.

2. You are already complete. A good relationship is an enhancement, not a requirement for wholeness. “If you love yourself first, you feel complete,” says Smith. “You don’t need someone to complete you. You just want someone to complement you.”

3. Hold on to yourself. Love should not mean losing track of your own priorities. “Too often women love another and forget that they are one half of the relationship, so they give all they have to another and forget themselves,” says O’Gorman. “Keep the focus on loving yourself as you love another.”

4. Pick someone who fits the life you want. It is important to think about the bigger picture, says family therapist Linda Carroll, MS, author of Love Cycles: The Five Essential Stages of Lasting Love. “There are two essential questions for every girl to ask,” she says. “’Where am I going in my life?’ and ‘Who do I want to go with me?’” The idea is that she seeks a partner who treats her with that same care and respect she shows herself.

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5. Do not become bitter. Not all love relationships work out and sometimes we get hurt, but it would be tragic if a bad experience soured her faith in love. “All too often, young girls are taught that hate is the way to turn off [feelings of] love,” says Smith. “It’s not.” That attitude only creates bitterness.

6. Appreciate small gestures. We often look for validation and proof of love through grand, romantic gestures, but it is important to appreciate the small stuff. “Every little thing we do works to build a relationship or destroy it, so it's important to show how you feel on a daily basis,” says Christina Steinforth, MFT.

7. Don’t expect a fairytale. Love can be an enchanting delight, and it can be messy. Daughters should have a sense of what to expect so they are not disheartened by the reality of love’s imperfection. “A healthy relationship has generosity, happiness, trouble, protest, repair, stormy times, forgiveness, acceptance, and finding ways to manage the differences and celebrating the connections,” says Carroll. It is not meant to be blissful at all times.

What is a favorite lesson about love you learned from your mom?

Laurie Sue Brockway is a journalist and author who has written extensively on love, marriage, parenting, wellbeing, and emotional health. Her work has appeared in hundreds of print and online publications, including Everyday Health and The Huffington Post.

Image ©iStock.com/IPGGutenbergUKLtd

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