When our daughters are little, it’s all princess, ponies and tea parties. It’s great to allow our daughters the opportunity to be girls and delve in happy fantasies and fun imaginations. That’s what childhood is all about. However, childhood is also about preparing our children for adulthood. The better prepared our children are for adulthood, the less emotional pain and metal setbacks they will suffer. When it comes to matters of the heart, love, relationships and friendships, these can be difficult on our daughters’ mental psyche. That’s why preparing them for relationships, even in childhood, is imperative. So how do we prepare our little girls who believes in princesses, princes, fairies and happily ever after that relationships can end in betrayal leaving them lonely, heartbroken and depressed?
Admit it will happen
No matter how pretty and smart your daughter is, she will experience heartbreak. Heartbreak isn’t just relegated to the less attractive, the less popular or the non rich. Every girl will one day experience heartbreak. It’s human nature to love. It’s also human nature to experience loss and betrayal in some form. I know this doesn’t fit into the perfect world you’ve created while assembling that magical princess castle, but this is about reality. By age ten, you should began having conversations about friendships and how to handle conflicts and disappointments. By this time, your daughter has slowly started to see the uneasy dynamics of friendships. After you’ve wiped her tears because a friend she thought was a friend no longer is a friend, console with compassion and caution. Let her know how people treat her is more about them and less about her. Instill in her that you can’t control the actions of others. You can only respond to their actions and behaviors in manner that shows who you are. Tell her when people show you who they are, don’t make excuses for them but you have to believe them. Remind her not to internalize their false perceptions of her and that those perceptions don’t have to become her reality.
When love hurts
As women, we often tend to seek validation from men, validation of beauty and self worth. Teach your daughter not to do that. Teach her to be selective in her love partners. Teach her that she’s valued; so she isn’t likely to allow a man to define or disrespect her. So what happens when the love of her life betrays her or leaves? Nothing can prepare you for the crush, devastation of betrayal and heartbreak. So how do you help your daughter get through this time of emotional trauma? Breakups have tarnished the self-esteem and joy of many women over the years. How can we teach our daughters not to be a victim of love?
I’ve asked myself, “What could my mom had done to prepare me for my heartbreaks?” While she did a great job teaching us about Christ and grounding our identity in who He is, I needed more info than “Sex is a sin.” I knew Jesus loves me, and I’m wonderful to Him, but without proper training and information about relationships and sex, yes sex, girls are left broken, some irreparably broken as a result of heartbreak, heartache and rejection. While my faith in Christ helped me to heal, the right information and training can help our daughters also deal and move forward more wisely and stronger.
Relationships are such heart risks, often like an unsuspecting minefield. You’re walking in complete bliss until you take a wrong step; next thing you know, you’re in pieces. You can’t control relationships because you can’t control the decisions and actions of the one you love. When the heart receives another heart, it’s vulnerable. As women, we’re such givers, and we open ourselves up to the possibilities of forever love, ignoring the possibility that this may not be forever and find ourselves crushed.
How can we prepare our daughters for the possibility of being casualties of love? We must reinforce what love is. Love is kind. Love is faithful. Love is not jealous. Love is spiritual connection, not physical. Love means loving yourself so well that you recognize when love isn’t being reciprocated. Teach our daughter that she teaches others how to treat her by how she treats herself. Tell her because love is kind, if he’s not being kind to you consistently, he doesn’t love you. Love is not controlling. If he’s consistently trying to control you, he doesn’t love you. Often as women, we mourn a relationship we thought we had not the actual relationship we had. If he habitually cheats on you or if you caught him cheating, mourn the death of the relationship, but also be honest that things weren’t what you painted them to be. While a devastating breakup may not have been the outcome she wanted, it’s the outcome she needed. Teach her to let go of a man who isn’t trying to hold on to.
Teach her that she’s the prize
If he’s a winner, it’s because she is the prize. We have to teach our daughters honor and respect; any man who wants to be in their lives and take residence in their hearts must honor and respect them. When he doesn’t respect her, he must go. No excuses. He must go. So many women respond in detrimental ways to betrayal (overeating, self-doubting, self-esteem issues, becomes cheaters themselves, suicidal, settles). Often how others treat us impacts how we end up treating ourselves. His betrayal is not an indictment of her self-worth. It’s a revelation of his issues and frailties. It’s not her fault he cheated. That was his choice and his alone. It doesn’t mean she’s not beautiful, smart, kind and worthy of love.
No one is saying start ruining your five year old daughter’s tea parties with stories of heartbreak and betrayal. Let her enjoy her tea parties and princess dresses. Just know that while she’s living her princess life, you better be preparing to teach her about the reality of love and relationships. You don’t want her to get there ill-equipped and unprepared. Remind her that even after an awful breakup, love is still a reality and a beautiful possibility. Teach her to allow heartbreak to empower her to still love in the right way and at the right time.