Raising strong daughters amid #MeToo and social media: what to do, what to avoid

Raising strong girls in the current social media climate — with everything from hours spent online to cyberbullying to movements like the #MeToo campaign to contend with — can be a challenge to navigate.

It comes down to talking to daughters, says author of Growing Strong Girls

Social media and technology is altering the challenges of parenting, says developmental specialist Lindsay Sealey. (REUTERS)

Raising strong girls in the current social media climate — with everything from hours spent online to cyberbullying to movements like the #MeToo campaign — can be a challenge.

Investing time is the most important thing a parent can do, says educational and personal development specialist Lindsay Sealey.

"I'm seeing families that are extremely busy and overscheduled and … contending with time on screens, with technology and social media," Sealey said. "It's really tough. It's been a big shift in our society."

She is the author of the parenting book, Growing Strong Girls, and gave a talk earlier this week in Vancouver about the challenges parents are facing.

"There is a big disconnect," she told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition . "It really comes down to not enough time spent talking, getting to know what is really up for them and what's going on."

Equipping girls

Bring up social media behaviour long before the child goes online, Sealey emphasized.

"We really need to equip girls with the knowledge and even the inner strength and power to deal with mean comments," she said. "It's causing a lot of damage."

That means talking about how to set and uphold boundaries, who is invited into their circles and what kind of behaviour makes them feel uncomfortable.

"Girls often don't understand that they have every right to set those boundaries and keep those boundaries," Sealey said.

One of the strategies she encourages is role playing and asking questions like 'What would you do in this situation? What does that sound like?'

"Being able to strongly assert herself without smiling, without laughing, without looking away or feeling like she is doing something wrong is practice, practice, practice," she said.

Those kind of discussions can only arise from consistent, daily conversations, Sealey added.

"You need to invest a lot of time with her," she said. "Be there for her, listen, validate, affirm and just get to know her."

Raising strong girls in the current social media climate — with everything from hours spent online to cyberbullying to movements like the #MeToo campaign to contend with — can be a challenge to navigate. 7:00

With files from The Early Edition.  

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