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Words of wisdom for raising a young girl today

November 16, 2009

Dear Amy: My husband and I have a 6-year-old daughter.

Looking down the road, I'm wondering, how do we help her to develop a sense of self-respect and self-esteem?

In a society where thin is everything, being popular is a matter of selling yourself out and sex is happening at an early age, what message should we give her?

I'm not in the dark ages, but I am not sure how to give our daughter the armor she needs to go forth and be her own person.

A Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad: The message you should always convey to your daughter is that she is an individual with the strength of character to make good choices, and that she should face the consequences with integrity when she doesn't.

While she is young, she will look to you as her strongest influence.

You should provide her with ample "teachable moments" where she can see herself as intelligent, capable and strong. You should encourage her to be kind, generous, tolerant and involved in the world.

You should limit her television, movie and Internet exposure, and encourage her to read with you and then talk about what she has read.

You should also become media literate and encourage your daughter to discuss concepts or influences she is exposed to.

There are wonderful examples of women who have used their brains, talent and character to change the world -- and you should make sure your daughter knows about these people, their contributions and life stories.

Your girl will be the hero of her own story.

If she feels good about who she is and is secure in her attachment to her parents and extended family, she is less likely to worry too much about how to please other people.

::

Dear Amy: I am fascinated by the question of how to deal with people who are always late.

In my family, we have a member who is like that.

Eventually, we got sick of it and just proceeded with our plans, whether or not the person had arrived.

I can't help but notice that when the plans are person- ally important to her, she manages to arrive on time.

Faithful Reader

Dear Reader: I agree that a person should not hold a group hostage to her own poor timing.

Your family's technique for dealing with this is effective.

I give you credit for moving on with your plans.

Send questions to Amy Dickinson by e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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