Ten Lessons for Our Daughters

My older sister, a long-time fan of this blog, sent me some suggestions for raising Orthodox girls (but they could apply to anyone) and challenged me to add a few of my own. Hers are marked with an asterisk.

  1. *Be educated and self-confident enough to know that you can support yourself if necessary.
  2. *If someone tells you that you are no good, *they* are no good for you.
  3. *Stay away from leaders/teachers who tell you that the rules apply to you but not to them, especially in the realms of money, sex, and abuse/violence.
  4. Don’t be alone in a room with a man. Rabbis and teachers also need to observe laws of yichud.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and to ask for help.
  6. *Develop skills to talk about problems that are “too embarrassing to talk about.”
  7. *Work actively to establish a set of friends, family, therapist, rabbi, blog, whatever — where you can talk safely about those problems.
  8. When you think you have “no choice,” you’re probably wrong.
  9. Learn, and know how to look things up for yourself.
  10. You don’t have to be like everyone else. God made us all different for a reason.


  1. Related is: do not discount the your own experience and thoughts with respect to assessing if something is true or right.

  2. except for the one about yichud, and possibly even that one in a slightly altered form, they all apply to everybody and not to specifically raising an orthodox girl.
    They are good guidelines for anybody raising any kid of any denomination, ethnicity or race.

  3. Regular Anonymous says

    Good list.
    May I add:
    Understand that you have intrinsic value as a person created Btzelem Elokim regardless of your actions and accomplishments.

  4. mother in israel says

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I may very well continue to work on it.
    Leora, those nuances are so hard to explain, the line between being friendly to a neighbor and getting into a threatening situation.

  5. Comment about Rafi’s comment: many American young women have no sense about yichud being a danger. Like him, I wonder how one could use this knowledge to avoid problems.
    A related discussion might be what words to use to talk to your daughter, and at what age are the discussions appropriate. My daughter is only 5. Stranger danger is important at that age. Yesterday she saw me talking to a neighbor down the block. “Who is he?” she said. I don’t know his name. “So why are you talking to him?” He’s OK, I told my daughter, he’s a policeman (he wasn’t in uniform). I like that she had a sense of protecting her mother.

  6. Helene Rock says

    Mom, I’d also include basic life skills: basic sewing skills, basic cooking ones, basic car repair/ownership skills (e.g. how to change the oil, put in gas, check fluids etc.) , financial skills – how to open a checking account, a savings account, all about credit and using it wisely, and basic legal “skills.” And not just for girls, but for our sons as well. And basic living skills, as well, like how to change fuses and light bulbs, where the circuit breakers are, how to use a fire extinguisher, etc. etc. It’s funny how these things are never taught, yet we’re expected somehow to “know” them.

  7. Interesting.

  8. Lion of Zion says

    שבוע טוב
    MOther in Israel:
    “My older sister, a long-time fan of this blog, sent me some suggestions for raising Orthodox girls”
    i don’t want to make a political post out of this, but i think that you meant to write “non-haredi orthodox girls”
    “basic cooking ones”
    i still haven’t forgiven my mother-in-law for not letting my wife in the kitchen while she was growing up. i’m just curious why you write specifically “basic” cooking skills. don’t us husbands deserve better?

    • “I’m just curious why you write specifically “basic” cooking skills. don’t us husbands deserve better?”

      Seriously? I think “us husbands” should learn to cook for themselves as well (“basic” and otherwise). To that end, I’ve made sure that my sons are somewhat familiar with cooking and following a recipe.
      Cooking was never just “for girls,” you know.

  9. You can add this:
    “We/I believe that you CAN do “it” “.
    Let her know that you have faith in her.

  10. Standing up to peer pressure/societal pressure/parental pressure will be one of the hardest things you may have to do in your life. But if you feel your own choice is right for you, stick with it.

  11. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and to ask for help.
    As long as you don’t have to ask for directions.

  12. Jameel, don’t you know that women are always quick to ask for directions. It is only anathema to men. See http://kallahmagazine.com/Archived%20Articles.htm

  13. Great list. Much to add, but very key is to keep your friends. Keep up with them. And make new ones.

  14. Ariella: Sorry, but Kallah magazine is blocked by my company’s firewall with the message:
    Security Warning! Attempting to access a web site that violates organizational policy!
    The URL http://kallahmagazine.com/archived articles.htm was blocked, it is in the Restricted Pornography category.

  15. anonymous mom says

    Travel. Travel. Travel.
    I hope you dance. (let your spirit soar, make time for fun)
    Yes, you should watch how he treats the waiter, but more importantly watch closely how he treats his mother!
    Along the same lines as “It’s just as easy to marry a rich guy…” is mine:
    It’s much, much easier to be married to a bald, sweet accountant than to a cute, cool domineering guy who owns his own business.

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  17. My mother always told me that I could do anything as long as I could read. I think that answers Lion’s and Helene’s comments.
    I’ve redone my bathroom (new sink, light fixtures, vanity, faucets, toilet) and learned how to cook gourmet dishes because of my mom’s advice. But the real reason is because my mom believes/ed in me that I could do these things… so way Jake.