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Having daughters is such a beautiful combination of gifts and responsibilities. These incredible little women provide us with an opportunity to have the deepest and truest feminine friendship for life, and to gift the world with the next generation of strong, compassionate and driven female souls.


But this takes work—there's no doubt about it.

Harmony between mothers and daughters and the ability to lead them (and have them listen!) doesn't just happen. It is a relationship that has to be created and nurtured. Mutual respect can be taught from a young age, empowering both moms and daughters to truly feel like they belong, both in our relationship together and in the world.

Anchoring this sense of belonging for our girls is one of our most important jobs as a parent. Teaching our daughters that they belong in a world that often fills them with oppositional messages can be tough, so empowering them is key.

When looking to build our girls up, commit to empowering them to:

  • Develop their voice
  • Believe in themselves
  • Stand up for what they believe in
  • Lean into their desire to feel powerful
  • Love themselves
  • Trust their gut
  • Chase their dreams
  • Be firm with their no's
  • Be respectful and persistent in their stand against injustice
  • Seek peace in the areas they see a need
  • Allow their emotions to guide them
  • Trust their heart that vulnerability is good
  • Always believe in their innate goodness
  • Allow empathy to guide them
  • Use their hearts to freely give compassion
  • Have confidence that they can create any kind of life they choose

Consider using these phrases with your daughters to empower them to lean into the strength, kindness, vision and power they each hold:

1. “I love you no matter what."

Take a break from: “Be good today," or “If you're good, I'll give you extra hugs tonight."

Example: “I want you to know that I love you no matter what. You will always and forever have my unconditional love, no matter what."

Explained: Unconditional love is at the core of Positive Parenting and means that our love for our kids does not depend on the level of good behavior they have. Rooting our parenting in unconditional love is essential to building strong, confident girls. Trust that your daughters ARE good ALL the time, no matter what mistakes they make, or challenges they face each day.

Feeding this truth into our girls pours into their need to belong, which is a key motivating factor that Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs (grandfather of Positive Parenting) helps us understand is underneath kids' behaviors. Remove conditions and lean into unconditional love, even amidst imperfection and tough days or stages of life.

2. “You are absolutely beautiful, inside and out."

Take a break from: “You look so pretty in that dress."

Example: “I love you in that dress AND you are absolutely beautiful inside and out. Your heart is just as pretty as your princess gown!"

Explained: The world will give our girls plenty of messages that their beauty is all about what's on the outside, so let's be sure to remind them often how true beauty comes from within. Confidence, kindness, optimism, compassion, kindness—these traits radiate beauty from the heart in the most powerful ways.

Show your girls female role models such as Jenna Kutcher, Malala Yousafzai, Bethany Hamilton and the 2018 Olympic Women's Hockey Team and explain how each of these women represents deep beauty.

3. “You are strong, and you've got this! I'm here to support you."

Take a break from: “I will talk to that girl's Mom, it's not okay for her to treat you like that."

Example: “It sounds like you don't like the way your classmate is treating you. How will you let her know that you'd like her to be kind to you? You are strong and you've got this! I'm here to support you."

Explained: In order for our girls to feel empowered to solve their own problems, it's essential that we let them try. Resist the urge to do it for them, rescue them or always give them the answer. Allow them to be stretched so that they can find courage and seek to use that courage in their life. Support them by being by their side, but allow them to use their voice for peaceful conflict resolution and to initiate change.

4. “How do you feel?"

Take a break from: “Oh, don't cry…it's okay honey, don't worry about it, everything is fine."

Example: “How did you feel when that happened?" or “I can see your brother has upset you…how are you feeling and how will you take care of yourself to feel better?"

Explained: Feeling and processing emotions fully is essential for our girls to develop emotional strength. As parents, it's important to know that emotions are neither right nor wrong, they just are. Teach your girls that emotions are good and that identifying how they are feeling will help them take action to feel better.

Communicating that emotions such as sadness, anger and hurt contribute to the wholeness of life is important to help our daughters embrace all emotions. Resist the urge to fix when guiding your girls and expect some level of messiness. Lean into the power of listening, which will guide your daughters to find their own solutions.

5. “Gosh I love my ____________ (body part)! What is your favorite part of your body?"

Take a break from: “Uggggh, I hate my stomach, I need to lose 5 lbs."

Example: “Gosh, I love my strong legs and how they were formed from my 15 years of springboard diving…they are my favorite part of my body. What is your favorite part of your body and why do you love it?"

Explained: Teaching our girls to focus on one thing they love about their bodies instead of telling them they need to love every inch of themselves takes the pressure off having a “perfect body image." Allow your daughters to express negative emotions about their bodies and resist the urge to make them wrong for their feelings. Instead, guide them to find one thing they do love and empower them to put that at the top of their mind.

6. “Oh yeah? Tell me more."

Take a break from: “You should do this _________," or “Well no wonder that happened, you shouldn't have _________."

Example: “Oh yeah? Tell me more. How did you feel, what happened? What did you do when the teacher said that? I'm here to listen to you…"

Explained: Developing a strong ability to listen intently to our daughters empowers them to find and use their voice. It also allows them to express themselves freely and fully instead of being interrupted or rescued. When our daughters know they have a parent who will listen without always trying to fix them, they will open up more, learn to trust their voice, express their feelings and communicate effectively both with us and in the world.

7. “How can you be a light in this situation?"

Take a break from: “Stop being mean, I refuse to raise a mean girl."

Example: “Friendships with other girls can be really challenging. How can you be a light in this situation and use your kindness to solve the problem?"

Explained: Girl relationships can get sticky and messy. Take a break from using the term mean and instead fill your daughter with the truth about who she really is—kind, good, loving, funny, resourceful, creative, caring and smart. Guide her to seek creative ways to use those strengths to solve problems with her friends, classmates, siblings and YOU! Supplementing this phrase with a lesson on peaceful problem solving is always a great idea.

Teach kids to take turns using a win/win exercise with this verbiage: “I feel __________ and I want _______".

8. “You have a strong desire to feel powerful and that is GOOD!"

Take a break from: “Don't be bossy, no one likes a bossy girl," or “Why can't you just listen, you always push back on rules. What is wrong with you"?

Example: “You were gifted with a strong desire to feel powerful and that will make you an incredible leader. You need to practice expressing yourself with respect however, let's try that again." Or, “You have a strong desire to be in charge and that's a gift! Can you try asking your friends to play the game your way instead of telling them what to do?"

Explained: Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, writes in her book Lean In, "I want every little girl who's told she's bossy to be told instead that she has leadership skills." What a gift it would be to mentor our daughters on how to see this need they have to seek power as good, instead of something that makes them unattractive or bad. Encourage your daughters to find ways to feel powerful in respectful ways and how to lead with integrity.

9. “How will you be the change you want to see?"

Take a break from: “Stop complaining about it, they'll never change." Or, “Those girls are mean, don't be friends with them."

Example: “I can see that you don't like the way those kids are acting, how will you be the change you wish to see? How can you respond to them in a way that you want them to follow suit?"

Explained: Empowering our daughters on how to influence others with integrity fills them with the capability to create positive change in their peer groups, schools, community and even their own families. Teaching our girls how to continue acting with kindness, compassion, self-confidence, grit, determination and respect—even when others aren't—helps to develop strong character and high self-esteem.

10. “I am not okay with ___________," or “I'd like you to __________."

Take a break from: “You need to stop that," or “You should listen more to what I say."

Example: “I am not okay with you using your hands to solve problems with your brother. I need you to take a pause button, then use words to peacefully resolve your problem with him."

Explained: Using “I" statements and taking responsibility for our own emotions and desires, teaches our girls to do the same. It also mentors our daughters to ask for what they want (vs. telling people what they don't want), which increases the rate at which others cooperate with them.

Raising daughters who use “I" statements to own their choices, wishes, dreams, and goals helps to create a future generation of women who blame others less and take control to create the life they want (instead of waiting for others or outside circumstances to provide the way).

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98

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3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99

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4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95

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7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99

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11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99

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This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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While you're gearing up for (or in the middle of) back to school season, Halloween may seem like it will never get here, but it's only a couple of months away. And if you can barely wait for the leaves to fall and temperatures to drop, Disney and Amazon are here to get you in the spooky spirit.

Enter: Disney's Halloween shop on Amazon. 🎃This curated collection features tons of items for the season and we love that many are nods to some of our favorite festive movies. Think: Hocus Pocus and A Nightmare Before Christmas.

From Halloween costumes for kids to ghostly mugs for mama, these are the best items for the entire family:

1. Disney Jack Skellington Mug

skellington mug

If you're a fan of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, this will be your favorite mug to sip your coffee or tea from.

Price: $12.99

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2. My First Halloween Board Book

disney amazon halloween shop

Halloween doesn't have to be scary, mama. This touch and feel board book introduces baby to the season.

Price: $8.99

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3. Anna + Elsa Costume

anna else costume

Get a head start on your costumes by adding this one to your cart. Bonus points for having accessories that can be used for playtime year-round.

Price: $16.01-$28.99

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4. Minnie Mouse Sequin Ears

minnie mouse ears

If you don't want to fully dress up to trick or treat, add on these ears to feel festive for less.

Price: $11.99

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5. Hocus Pocus Women's Tee

hocus pocus tee

Hocus Pocus will always be a favorite. For a humorous take on being a mama, add this one to your wardrobe.

Price: $16.99

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Ashley Graham is having a baby! The supermodel recently shared the exciting news on social media — and it didn't take long for her to make an important statement about pregnant bodies.

Ashley shared a beautiful photo featuring something nearly every woman on the planet has: stretch marks. The photo, which features Ashley nude and seemingly unfiltered, is kind of revolutionary—because while it's completely normal for a woman to have stretch marks (especially during pregnancy), we don't often get to see celebrities rocking this reality on magazine covers or even in social media posts.

That's probably why Ashley, who will welcome her firstborn with husband Justin Ervin, is earning so much praise for the photo, which she posted on Instagram. The images shows the model's side with the caption "same same but a little different".

One follower who is loving this real look at a pregnant body? Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who writes "My Lord, THANK YOU for this."

Ashley's post touches another user in an unexpected way: "I'm such a wimp. I'm pregnant, hormonal, and going though so many body changes. This made me tear up. I really needed this today," she writes.

Another user adds: "I showed my husband this photo and he said, 'See! She's just like you' I am almost 21 weeks pregnant and I've been struggling with my changing body. I love how much you embrace it. I've always looked up to you and your confidence. ❤️ Congratulations on your babe!"

Yet another follower adds: "This is what girls need to see. We need this as a reference for real and relatable. Women young and old. Thank you!"

Of course this is social media we're talking about so a few hateful comments make their way into the mix—but Ashley's many advocates shut that down. We have to applaud this stunning mom-to-be for showing the world how pregnancy really changes your body.

Women everywhere can see themselves in this photo of a supermodel (and how often does that happen?). That's powerful stuff—and it just might make it a little bit easier for the rest of us to embrace the changes we see in our own bodies.

One follower sums it all up best, writing: "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be a mother and teach another human being that ALL bodies are beautiful. You're going to be such an amazing mother."

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For a lot of families, summer is a season where rules relax and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting, weekday mornings are about to start a lot earlier for many kids, and parents might be wondering how to reset the clock on bedtimes.

According to Terry Cralle, an RN, certified clinical sleep expert and the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, a new school year is a good opportunity for families to get a fresh start on sleep routines.

"We have to start with really making sufficient sleep a family priority [and] having some discussions about the importance of sleep with our children," Cralle tells Motherly. "It shouldn't be at bedtime when everyone's cranky and tired. It should be during the day that families really discuss the importance of sleep for all family members."

If you need to have a conversation about getting enough sleep for school, try the following tips from Cralle.

1. Be positive about sleep

Make sure that younger children, especially, understand that sleep is a positive, not negative thing, and don't use the threat of bedtime as punishment.

"What we want to do is, ideally, change how children perceive sleep because children can see sleep as a great big timeout where they're missing out on things," Cralle explains, suggesting that parents instead try to present sleep and bedtime routines as "with positivity and as just a non-negotiable part of our lives."

Cralle wants parents to make sure they're talking with their kids about how a lack of sleep can impact one's mood, health and academic ability. Just as we teach our kids about the importance of eating healthy, we should be teaching them about the importance of sleeping healthy, and from an early age.

2. Empower your children with choices

According to Cralle, it's really important to empower children with choices around bedtime, because the one thing they can't have a choice in is the fact that they do need to go to sleep.

"They're going be more accountable, more responsible, and hopefully, develop good sleep habits and practice good hygiene early in life," if we empower them through simple choices, Cralle suggests.

"So we can say, what pajamas do you want to wear to bed tonight? What book do you want to read? Let them participate. If they can pick out their color of their pillowcase, let them do it. Whatever's age appropriate."

3. Let them do their own bedtime math

Instead of just telling kids when they need to go to bed, involve them in figuring out an appropriate bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists how much sleep kids need depending on their age. Have them look up how much sleep a kid their age needs, and then show them the National Sleep Foundation's online bedtime calculator. Kids can choose how many hours of sleep they need and when they want to wake up, and it will show them when they need to go to bed.

It's not an arbitrary decision mom and dad made, it's science and math, and you can't argue with that.

4. Add one sleep item to the back-to-school shopping list

Cralle says adding one sleep-related item to the back to school shopping list can really help children understand the importance of sleep as they head back into the classroom. A conversation about how getting a good night's sleep is important for school success, combined with a shopping trip for a new pillowcase or comforter can really help children see sleep as an important priority, and give them something to look forward to using at bedtime.

5. Provide an environment conducive to sleep

When our kids are infants we're really good at setting up rooms that can help them sleep. But as our children age out of cribs and start to accumulate a lot of possessions and playthings, their rooms can become a less ideal sleeping environment.

According to Cralle, it's not uncommon for kids to get up after bedtime and start playing with toys in their room. She recommends removing stimulating toys or storing them in another area of the home, and never putting televisions, tablets or smartphones in a child's room.

6. Enact a media curfew

At least an hour before bedtime, screen time should come to an end and other, more relaxing activities can begin. Cralle says families can designate a certain hour as DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, or move from away from brightly lit screens and towards a board games or puzzles, "things to do to get that blue light out of their eyes."

A family-wide media curfew can be a good thing, says Cralle, as it helps parents "walk the walk" when it comes to sleep hygiene. "Don't be looking at your iPad and tell your child to put it away," she explains.

7. Remember: It's never too late for good sleep habits.

According to Cralle, age 3 is the ideal time to start reinforcing the importance of sleep for a child's health, but older kids and even mom and dad can reverse bad bedtime habits if the whole family buys in. That may mean curtailing your kids' (and your own) caffeine consumption, says Cralle.

"We're seeing younger and younger age groups of school children walking around with their Starbucks cups, with coffee, late in the afternoon," says Cralle, who thinks a lot of parents just don't have good information on how caffeine consumption can impact sleep—for our kids and ourselves.

She recommends limiting the number of caffeinated beverages available in the house if you've got tweens and teens at home, and watching your own consumption as well.

"We have to say 'Here's how we're all going to approach it.' It's sort of like seat belts with children, we never would buckle them in and get into the car, and not do it ourselves."

This may be the season to tweak your own sleep habits mama. Here's to a well-rested September.

[Correction: August 24, 2018: The sleep calculator was created by the National Sleep Foundation, not the Better Sleep Council.]

[A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Learn + Play

Finding out that you are having multiples is always a surprise, but finding out that you're in labor with triplets when you didn't even know you were pregnant, well that's the mother of all surprises.

It happened to Dannette Glitz of South Dakota on August 10. The Associated Press reports she had no idea she was pregnant and thought the pain she was experiencing was kidney stones.

"I never felt movement, I never got morning sickness, nothing!" Glitz explains in a social media post.

"Well this was a huge shock"

When Glitz posted photos of her triplets to her Facebook page last week one of her friends was confused. "What? You really had triplets?" they asked.

Glitz (who has two older children) started getting pain in her back and sides in the days before the birth, but it felt like the kidney stones she had previously experienced so she brushed it off. Eventually, she was in so much pain all she could do was lay in bed and cry.

"It hurt to move and even breath[e]," she wrote, explaining that she decided to go to an Urgent Care clinic, "thinking I'm going to have to have surgery to break the stones up."

A pregnancy test at Urgent Care revealed Glitz was pregnant—that was the first surprise. The second surprise happened when a heart monitor revealed the possibility of twins.

'I need another blanket, there's a third'

Glitz was transferred to a regional hospital in Spearfish, South Dakota. "And in about 2 hours they confirmed twins as there was 2 heart beats," she writes.

Glitz was 34 weeks along and four centimeters dilated. She was transferred again, rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Rapid City and prepped for a C-section. When the C-section was happening she heard the doctor announce that Baby A was a boy and Baby B was a girl.

"Then [the doctor] yells 'I need another blanket, there's a third' ....I ended up having triplets, 1 boy [and] 2 girls," Glitz writes.

Glitz and her husband Austin named their surprise children Blaze, Gypsy and Nikki and each of the trio weighed about 4 pounds at birth. Because the couple's older children are school-aged, they didn't have any baby stuff at home. Friends quickly rallied, raising over $2,000 via a Facebook fundraiser to help the family with unexpected expenses.

A family of seven 

The family is getting used to their new normal and is so thankful for the community support and donations. "It's amazing in a small town how many people will come together for stuff that's not expected," Glitz told KOTA TV.

Her oldest, 10-year-old Ronnie, is pretty happy about a trio of siblings showing up suddenly.

"One time I seen a shooting star and I wished for a baby brother, and I wished for like two sisters for my little sister because she always wanted a little sister, I knew this day was always going to come," Ronnie told TV reporters.

Ronnie may not have been surprised, but everyone else in this story certainly was.

Congratulations to Danette and her family! You've got this, mama.

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