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Never Do These 7 Things in Front of Your Daughter

As mothers, we're the first and most prominent female role models that our daughters (and sons) have. Our behavior sends powerful messages about how women should act and how we fit into society.

Are you doing any of these seemingly innocent habits in front of your child?

1. Saying 'I'm sorry' when you've done nothing wrong

I'm a chronic over-apologizer. Friends have told me this before, but I never thought it was a real problem until recently, when a man accidentally bumped into my 2-year-old daughter and me at the grocery store. He clearly was the one who ran into us, but Beatrice immediately looked at him and said "Sorry!" The man smiled and complimented me on how polite my daughter was. But good manners do not include apologizing when you've done nothing wrong.

Over-apologizing is something many women are raised with, but we need to stop. When you apologize for no reason, it sends a message that you are worth less and deserve less than the people you're apologizing to.

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2. Canceling an outing because you don't have anything to wear

I wish I could say I'd outgrown the desire to just call and cancel plans whenever I'm not feeling pretty in any of the clothes I can find in my closet. That feeling still creeps up sometimes. But these days, I make myself just grab something and go. Socializing is about the experience not about showing off your appearance. The people you are going to see are (or should be) interested in spending time with you, and you should be interested in spending time with them, too—not showing off how hot you look.

3. Letting your child see an argument but not its resolution

Parents should strive to spare our kids from witnessing major arguments with our partner or anyone else. But it can actually be helpful for children to see minor disagreements between adults if we also let them see how we come to a resolution. As mothers, it can be tempting to try to seem like the adult version of a princess in front of our daughters, as if we're always right and never make mistakes. So when our kids see us squabble with another adult, we don't talk about it with them afterwards. And we certainly don't tell our kids if we had to apologize or work out a compromise with our partner later.

...[I]n modern society, you'll only be demonstrating that her value as a women lies in her appearance and sexuality.

But if you're not willing to admit your faults and model how a healthy adult woman works to resolve differences in her relationships, you'll be setting your daughter up for a lifetime of difficulty with conflict resolution.

4. Gossiping about other women with your friends

Gossip is tough to resist. But if you can show your daughter empathy and a desire to support other women, rather than participate in an environment of constant competition that society creates between us, that's a trait that will serve your daughter well in life—both in her friendships and her own self-esteem.

5. Comparing yourself to other women

Never use another woman's appearance or accomplishments to put yourself down in front of your daughter, even if you think it's good-natured. This is especially true for unrealistic images you see in the media. If your daughter tells you look as pretty as Princess Jasmine, don't tell her that you wish you did, except you're older and you have a flabbier stomach and flatter hair. Just say, "Thank you." Show her that how we look compared to other women just doesn't matter.

6. Using your appearance or flirting to get special treatment

Never flirt your way out of a traffic ticket or wear a short skirt to the mechanic shop for a discount. Maybe if we still lived in the middle ages, the art of using femininity for personal gain would be a helpful skill for mothers to teach their daughters. But, in modern society, you'll only be demonstrating that her value as a women lies in her appearance and sexuality.

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7. Turning your nose up at practical skills because you are a woman

There is no task that's beneath you because you are a woman, and there is no skill that's not ladylike to master. I'm not saying you shouldn't let your husband take on the "manly duties" around the house if he likes to. But if you're ever in a situation where you need to change a flat tire, replace an old toilet flapper or grease a bicycle chain, never refuse to do so because of your gender. There's a good chance your daughter is actually interested in learning how to do these things and wouldn't you rather she know how to do them for herself someday?

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Image via Twenty20

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