When my daughters were just toddlers, I made a commitment to raise them to be economically independent and empowered to make their own financial decisions. I wanted them to become financially secure and self-reliant; for young women, empowerment is a skill that is taught.
"As parents, we can educate our children to be financially independent so that they learn how to protect themselves from the vulnerability of economic insecurity."
Here are 7 impactful ways to teach women empowerment to help our young women to be financially savvy:
Women empowerment tip #1: Open a saving account for your child
What better way for kids to understand money than to have and manage their own? I gave my girls an allowance starting at age five. I committed to paying it weekly through college as long as they invested half of it into their personal savings accounts.
Parents can make a household rule that savings—money from allowance and other income including gifts—stay untouched until it affords its owner a valuable opportunity. Your kids will one day be amazed at the doors that their savings will open for them.
Women empowerment tip #2: Advocate the importance of education
Every day at the Women’s Business Development Council, I witness the women empowerment that education offers. Simply put, knowledge is power, and it will give your daughters the opportunity to make choices and follow dreams.
Put education at the top of your parenting priorities by setting expectations and celebrating educational success. Set up a college savings account as soon as possible. Research scholarships and take advantage of low-cost after-school enrichment and tutoring programs. These allow your daughters to explore interests and get extra help to build confidence.
Women empowerment tip #3: Increase perspective-taking in children
Show your girls the world that is waiting at their door. When my children were young, we didn’t let our meager budget get in the way of creating excitement around travel. We’d pack our bags and drive to Grandma’s house, which was on the way to an international airport.
We’d detour through the airport, giddy with anticipation of all the places planes would one day take us. Find ways to bring the world to you, too. Our family hosted young women from around the globe in our home as exchange students and au pairs. Their cultures and perspectives broadened my daughters’ views of the world and made them excited to leave their mark on it.
Women empowerment tip #4: Challenge gender stereotypes
Traditionally, girls are encouraged to take on roles to care for others. The emphasis is on their nurturing capabilities rather than on their earning potential. Help girls become more comfortable with pursuing their ambitions and unabashed about their desire to make money.
Teach them to be in control and effect change. Help them understand that they can care for others with their own wealth. They can use it to invest in their families, communities, and in causes they support.
Women empowerment tip #5: Teach your daughters to be strong
While completing chores wasn’t linked to my kids’ allowance, household tasks played an important role in teaching them independence and responsibility. Each child was responsible for making her bed, keeping her bedroom clean, setting the dinner table, and putting her laundry away at the end of the night.
Keeping the cracks in our long driveway free from weeds—a task I felt encouraged a strong work ethic and was definitely not appreciated by them – was also on the list! At summer camp they were required to clean toilets, wash clothes or do dishes. While they often grumbled about the work, they later thanked me for giving them the skills necessary to live on their own.
Women empowerment tip #6: Don't underestimate the importance of mentoring
Untapped opportunities happen when there isn’t a supportive mentor to share them. The support and mentorship of others who are willing to give their time and pass along skills lead to business success.
While my family was young, my daughters experienced the satisfaction of helping others. For instance, seeing our au pair explore her veterinary career ambition through an internship we helped her land at our local vet.
Today, my girls are early in their careers. One is a lawyer and the other a social worker—and see mentorship as critical to their success. Knowing its power, they are also quick to offer support to others.
It takes a village to raise a child
This last strategy is for you. Raising children is hard work and should not be done alone. Create a reliable support system to help you achieve the goals you have for your children.
My village was a lovingly cobbled together mix of savvy female friends who shared their professional acumen (to help me start a business to support my family and others). They offered parenting advice and gave me access to their nannies and babysitters to care for my kids while I worked. My girls benefited from their support and perspectives as much as I did.
Economic self-sufficiency is one of the most important and perpetuating lessons you can teach your daughters. With education and know-how, broader perspectives and the support of others, your children will be able to explore their dreams. They'll get to know their world, and help to forge change that will empower and inspire others to do the same.
My daughters’ financial savviness and their childhood savings accounts eventually grew to offer opportunities they could have otherwise not afforded. Study abroad, extensive international travel, and a year of income while holding out for a dream job in a new city.
Their confidence empowers them to make good choices because their personal savings served as a source of independence. If you're a parent, what are you doing to empower tomorrow's generation?