Challenge the Status Quo: What I Want My Daughter to Learn

Challenge the Status Quo: What I Want My Daughter to Learn
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What I Want My Daughter to Learn Series Featuring Jacki Zehner

Jacki ZehnerAs a mother, you're a powerful role model, with the ability to impact the values and aspirations of your children. And you have a special opportunity to encourage and challenge your daughters to achieve their dreams.

"You cannot be what you cannot see, and the most powerful role model for what a woman should be is her mother," says Jacki Zehner, a Park City, Utah, mother of one daughter and one son.

The president of Women Moving Millions, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former Goldman Sachs partner is dedicated to instilling in her daughter a strong sense of self-worth and self-identity. In this third edition of "What I Want My Daughter to Learn," Zehner shares how she inspires her daughter to challenge the status quo.

The Value of Self-worth and Equality

When it comes to being a role model for her 15-year-old daughter, Zehner says it's critical to show no inconsistency in what she says and what she does as a mother.

Her children have grown up seeing what it means to be a successful entrepreneur in a male-dominated field. "I want to encourage my daughter to believe — assuming it's aligned with her interests — that she can enter a traditionally male-dominated career," Zehner says.

She has spoken about gender equality to her daughter since she was very young, first in a fun way, like pointing out the difference in the girls' and boys' toy sections in a store, then getting more intentional.

"'Don't you think that's interesting?' is my favorite line with her — to talk about what exists and what we can do to change," she says.

Zehner takes every opportunity to include both of her kids in aspects of her work and personal life, exposing them to as much as possible. "I think that self-awareness, and helping our children be respectful of differences and engage with people who are different, are key," she says.

But she realizes she can't be the only female role model for her daughter. "Sometimes you have to separate the message from the messenger," she says. "As parents, especially as moms, it's important to reinforce the message with other messengers." So she often hosts events in her home, introducing her daughter to influential role models like Gloria Steinem and Sandra Day O'Connor.

A Strong Future for Our Daughters

Zehner wants her daughter to recognize early on that a whole world of opportunities lies ahead of her, and her choices today affect her options 10 years from now.

She wants her daughter to learn what it means to be firm in her beliefs — even if they differ from Zehner's own. "'What do you stand for? Do you stand for kindness, equality, justice? And how do you talk about your beliefs?'" she says. "The more I help her understand herself, and her strengths and her challenges, the stronger sense of self she will achieve."

Continue reading our "What I Want My Daughter to Learn" series, and learn how author and speaker Molly Fletcher is teaching her kids about money and career strategist and blogger Kathryn Sollman leads by her example of balancing career and home.

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