Raising Smart, Confident, Successful Girls

Raising smart, confident, and strong girls is not something to be ignored, but a conscious act in which every mom and dad struggles with all the time. As a mom and dad of a 10 year old tween we are entering the stage when everything we do becomes even more important in how our daughter makes it through the toughest years of her life to become the person she wants to be (and we want it her to be)-- Smart, Confident, and Strong.


My husband, Jean was given a book, Everyday Ways to Raise Smart, Strong, Confident Girls, Successful Teens Tell Us What Works, by Barbara Littman, recently by a friend and co-worker who has a single 15 year old daughter. She scribbled a note on a  post-it, "Read the book now, it will make all the difference in the world."  Trusting his friend, he dove into the book, reciting to me everything we needed to do.


Struck by #14, "Teach your Daughters to Cook and Do Basic Maintenance," he highlighted the key point. Learning to cook is about becoming independent. Yes, we bake once in a while and she helps set the table and make her bed, but learning to cook has not been high on our list. Afterall as the youngest daughter I never really learned to cook well until recently and Jean, had maids growing up and was not encouraged to be in the kitchen. We realized, however, how this skill wasn't only about independence but could also be a great family event in which we did together.


Starting off with the menu, Zoe stated that she wanted to learn how to cook Thai chicken curry, followed by tiramisu. "Let's start with Thai chicken curry," we agreed, the tiramisu could come later! Once at Trader Joes we shopped for the stir fry vegetables, chicken, curry sauce (some day we will learn to make our own curry) coconut milk, and a bottle of nice wine.


The next step was to lay out all the vegetables; cubes of yellow squash, green onions, snow peas, borccoli, edaname, chicken strips. Learning to cut and chop was the first task, close to the edge but not to close. Jean and Zoe continued to throw in the vegetables one at time stir frying each, adding spices, the curry sauce and the chicken. Waiting for it to simmer, they sat on tall bar chairs next to the stove sipping their drinks and talking about what it was like to cut, chop, and cook.


At one point Jean asked her if she wanted to go sit on the couch and read while it cooked. She said, "No, I will sit right here so I can stir it and watch it cook. I like doing this with you."


Next, they checked the rice that was being microwaved (the easy way out for this time) and set the table. Ten minutes later heaped up on 3 dishes was a beautiful Thai Chicken Curry dish heaped on top of rice with a basil leaf for decoration.


"How did you feel cooking?" I asked Zoe. "I felt like I was climbing Mt. Everest and I planted the flag on top of the hill."


"Wow!" Jean and I said together smiling at the one of many small steps towards raising our smart, confident, strong daughter.


Our goal is 10 recipes in the next 6 months and have fun engaging in the process with her.


Stay tuned for more ideas on raising strong, confident, and smart girls-- and enjoying it as well!