My heart sank last week as I watched American children run for their lives due to an active shooter in a
school. Take a minute and meditate on what I just said… American children running for their lives due to
an active shooter in a school. Shouldn’t our children be running into school because it is a place of
safety, inspiration and the launch pad for great futures? I am livid about this reality in America. I believe
every American adult should be too. The Marjorie Stoneman Douglas school shooting added to my
growing sense of distress about what seems to be one of the darkest moments in American History.
Daily I wonder what in the entire hell is really going on America? As the war of words about gun control
rages something else captures my attention.
Out of the darkness of this horrific event came a ray of light in the form of Emma Gonzalez. An American
girl who decided to stand for youth. Emma formulated a position about school safety in partnership
with other talented students to launch the #NeverAgainMovement. As we embark on Women’s History
Month I invite you to join me in teaching our daughters to be like Emma.
I am not advocating for your daughter to take Emma’s political position. However, I voraciously
advocate for you to inspire your daughter to find her voice and lead. Emma is a model of youth
leadership for girls. To make this point I lean on Gwen, Inc.’s leadership model based on the
competencies of confidence, competence, courage and calm. Parents, it is never too early to teach your
daughter to lead.
Confidence- Emma exudes confidence in herself, her fellow students and her goal of ensuring no other
students experience a school shooting. We must help girls develop self confidence in every area of their
lives. Girls lacking self-confidence are vulnerable to the influences of others who may not have their
best interest in mind. Teach your daughter to confidently vote for herself in every life situation.
Competence- Emma has many leadership skills. She is a skilled communicator. Emma mastered the art
of respectful heated debate. Emma is a talented public speaker. Emma understands strategic
relationship building. Teach your daughter to use her voice and build relationships in support of her
own mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
Courage- Emma is courageous. She reminds me of a quote, “Just because you feel fear does not mean
you can’t do it. Do it afraid.” Life can be very scary for girls, especially girls focused on being great and
smart. Work with your daughter to develop courage strategies to move through fear of anything stifling
her greatness and intellect.
Calm – Emma has this look in her eye that appears to be a combination of exhaustion and
determination. She has every reason to crawl to the bottom of her bed and never come out. Emma
needs to practice self-care. Our daughters need to practice self-care too. American girls are stressed!
Peer pressure, media images, over scheduling and navigating school, often not feeling safe for an a array
of reasons, has our daughters feeling pressured. As parents we need to make it okay for them to take
self-care breaks. Encourage your daughter to be healthy. Help your daughter navigate the stressors in
her life. Normalize mental and sexual health as critical to overall health. Help her understand the key to
her future is learning to absorb life’s chaos and be calm in the midst of it all. She can’t pursue her calling
if she is a broken empty vessel.
America is at a powerful tipping point. Historically, tipping points are driven by young leaders
dissatisfied with specific national issues. The students of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas join the list of
young American citizens focused on causing change to better our country. Young women are stepping
up and out to lead these movements. In the spirit of Women’s History Month, it thrills me to bear
witness as Emma Gonzalez joins the list of nationally recognized women leaders. I believe the future is
female. Emma is evidence of that future. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her. Happy
Women’s History Month! Celebrate this special time of year by encouraging your daughter to be a
confident, competent, courageous and calm young woman leader. Encourage her to be like Emma!
Doing so is not only good for her it is good for our country.
Image Credit: RHONA WISE/AFP/GETTY