Susan Smith Blakely

Note to Women Lawyers:  Teach Your Daughters Well

In my last blog I promised you additional information on fending off domestic violence.  We must break this pattern, and here is some excellent advice on how to do that.

In the article, "9 Ways to Bulletproof Your Daughter Against Domestic Violence," the author explored methods of early prevention to protect the most vulnerable, our daughters.  The keystone to this process is developing high self esteem that will lead to healthy relationships and the strength to extricate themselves from unhealthy relationships.  The recommendations were as follow:

Be the model you want your daughter to copy.  Your daughter --- or your granddaughter, your niece or your young female friend --- needs to see you stand up for your beliefs even if they are not popular.  You need to demonstrate a respect for the opinions of others and demand respect for your own opinions.  Demonstrate the correct behavior in drawing boundaries of what is safe and comfortable and how to effectively communicate those desires and preferences;

Do not accept the stereotypes that are popular in the media, and teach others not to accept them either.  If you are voluntarily watching gender degradation and violence in any form, that becomes a part of what people think you respect and find acceptable.  Be aware that the young women in your lives are watching;

Be careful of the messages you send about what is valued in a girl or a woman and make sure that physical attractiveness is nowhere near the top of that list.  Make young women understand that it is not their bodies and their physical looks that define them.  Communicate to them that it is their talents, abilities, grit, good manners and general pleasantness that is valued, and make them less dependent on the traditional female attributes for their concepts of personal worth.  Talk to them about the wrong attitudes about women being objectified sexually and "prized" by men as some kind of trophy.  Discuss this within the context of differing world cultures to make them understand how those negative attitudes can be limiting to their futures and the choices they will feel comfortable making;

Have high expectations for your daughters and let them know that you expect a lot because you have confidence in them and in their abilities;

Take every opportunity to send the message to your daughters that to get respect from others they first must respect themselves; and

Keep an open conversation with your daughter, one that allows her to feel comfortable about telling you things that are difficult for her to express and assures her that you will not judge her.

Do this, do it often and do it well.  Your life or the life of your daughter may depend on it.


Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and a nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law.  She is author of Best Friends at the Bar:  What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another.  Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, DC Spotlight, Daily Muse and Huffington Post Business.  Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues and the law profession.
Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she taught legal research and writing. She also is a Marshall Goldsmith trained career and leadership coach and a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches.  She also is a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy.   For more information, please visit 


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