“That’s not very lady like.” 

Raise your hand if you heard that one growing up. 

“Little girls are meant to be seen, not heard.” 

Another toxic trope we were raised with. 

Mothers today were raised during the slow emergence of “girl power,” but still got mixed messages filled with outdated sexist ideas. And we want to raise our daughters to be fierce—and for our sons to celebrate strong women—but we still end up on the receiving end of critique and scorn when our daughters are too loud, too messy, too demanding, “too much.” 

Sometimes, it’s hard to be the mom of a fierce girl

Related: What I wish people knew about raising a ‘wild’ child

As moms in 2022, we are parenting in a new paradigm. One where we know that girls and women can do anything—but there are still so many cultural and structural barriers in place for them. One where a new generation of parents aims to cultivate tenacity and grit in our girls, while our daughters still receive messages from the culture telling them they should focus on looking pretty and acting “perfect”. We’re parenting in the in-between—in between the hope of one day reaching equality and the reality of cultural gender stereotypes—and it can be messy. 

I want my daughter to speak up for her boundaries—in a respectful voice as much as possible. 

I want my daughter to decide what clothes she is happiest wearing—even when her outfits don’t match or she’s wearing a swimsuit in Winter. 

I want my daughter to decide what she likes to eat—but sometimes I wish she’d eat dinner without complaining. 

I want my daughter to follow her dreams—but it’s clear that sometimes her dreams don’t include doing her homework. 

I want my daughter to be a leader, to know her voice, to be unafraid to speak up to power—but right now, that authority is me. 

But I know that in order to raise a daughter who becomes a bold, opinionated and unafraid woman, I have to cultivate the fire within her now. Parenting fierce girls isn’t for the weak. Raising strong women starts with us. 

As moms raising fierce girls into the next generation of women leaders—leaders our world desperately needs—let’s celebrate the loudness and demands of our daughters that have so often been shunned. 

Let’s tell our girls to shout loudly when their boundaries are violated.

Let’s nurture what’s wild within our girls, instead of taming them into sad and sublimated version of themselves.

Let’s teach our daughters how to advocate for their own needs and practice authentic self-care

Let’s normalize girls doing “unladylike” things, for the sake of them being liberated from oppressive gender norms.

Related: Our kids are human, too—5 ways to treat them like an equal

Let’s destigmatize daughters speaking up to authority like grandparents or teachers or coaches, even when it makes those people uncomfortable. 

Let’s tell a new generation that it’s OK to fail at somethingthat it’s good!—and that the only failure is not trying. 

Let’s encourage stubbornness in our daughters, even when it gets directed toward us—because it’s that conviction that will enable her to reach for her dreams. 

Let’s celebrate girls’ physical toughness and strength and pushing their athletic skills to their limits.

Let’s model healthy relationships with our partners and ourselves so that our daughters inherently know their worth. 

Let’s normalize a healthy understanding of girls’ bodies rather than talking about periods and puberty and sexuality with any sense of secrecy or shame. 

Related: 6 ways to raise emotionally intelligent kids, according to a clinical psychologist

Let’s talk about girls in STEM and question our own biases that steer our daughters away from industries they may love. 

Let’s work hard to open a world of possibility for our girls by recognizing domains where traditional gender roles continue to creep in.

And let’s honor and nurture ourselves as healers of this next generation, by practicing self-love and appreciation for the challenging labor we are doing on our daughters’ behalf. 

So as the mother of a fierce daughter, I say to my fellow fierce mamas: Embrace your little girl’s loudness. Champion your daughter’s intensity.  Celebrate her tenacity. 

My daughter is fierce, opinionated and stubborn—and I hope she never changes.

She’s gonna need it.