5 Tips from Ruth Bader Ginsburg on How to Raise Mighty Daughters

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become known as somewhat of a rock star for her work on the Supreme Court.

The feminist icon is known for her cutting honesty and brave sense of justice in an often complacent world. She is exactly the kind of woman we would like our daughters to become. Thankfully, the Notorious RBG has seen fit to give us advice in accomplishing just that.

In a recent New York Times article, as well as in her new book My Own Words, Ginsburg offers advice on raising daughters who are clever, courageous, and mighty as herself.

Here are my favorite pieces of her advice:

1. Focus on the solutions – not on the challenges.

Ginsburg did not come from a wealthy or influential family. When she applied to law school, only three percent of attorneys were female. Women held nearly no power in the workplace, or even at home for that matter. It would be another two decades before Ginsburg, as a woman, could have a credit card under her own name. When she and her husband simultaneously began law school while caring for their infant daughter – a difficult prospect even in modern times – Ginsburg’s father-in-law provided some much valued words of wisdom. “Stop worrying,” he told her, “and find a way to manage.”

2. Teach her when to listen, and when to turn a deaf ear.

Most of us teach our daughters how to listen – but do we teach them how not to? According to Ginsburg, the best advice she ever received was from her new mother-in-law on her wedding day. “In every good marriage,” she said, “it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” Ginsburg cited this as important marital advice, but also added “I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court. When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”

3. Help her to find role models.

Most successful people can vividly remember a handful of teachers who were pivotal in shaping their values and sense of self. Help your daughter to find these people. American women are less likely to seek out mentors than their male counterparts. This makes our lives – both personally and professionally – much more difficult than they need to be. Encourage your daughter to identify other women she admires. Teach her how to approach these people, and how to learn from them.

4. Support her sense of self.

Society will tell your daughter to be a million different things. As her parent, you have the power to help her filter these voices. Better yet, help her to find her own. Encourage her to make it the loudest, most forceful one of them all. Teach your daughter to treasure her unique spirit, and to create her own goals and values rather than adopting someone else’s. Ginsburg remembers that her own mother “counseled me constantly to ‘be independent,’ able to fend for myself, whatever fortune might have in store for me.”

Society will tell your daughter to be a million different things. As her parent, you have the power to help her filter these voices. Better yet, help her to find her own. Encourage her to make it the loudest, most forceful one of them all. Teach your daughter to treasure her unique spirit, and to create her own goals and values rather than adopting someone else’s. Ginsburg remembers that her own mother “counseled me constantly to ‘be independent,’ able to fend for myself, whatever fortune might have in store for me.”

5. Break out the books!

Read to your children. Read with your children. Read in front of your children, showing them the joys of literature by example. Go to the library. Collect and treasure favorite books at home. Ginsburg has long fostered a love of reading, for which she once again credits her own mother’s example. Books can educate us, transport us, enhance us, and grow our minds in a million different ways. As George R.R. Martin wrote, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.

“My mother told me to be a lady,” said Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “and for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.” I, for one, aspire to take these tips to heart in hopes of raising a lady just like the Notorious RBG.

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