Soledad O'Brien's 3 Secrets for Raising Strong, Independent Girls

Soledad O'brien at the 6th annual Starfish gala

While there's no foolproof formula for creating strong, successful women, if there were a road map, we think this mom and award-winning journalist owns it. In her personal life, career, and philanthropic work, Soledad O'Brien proves she's the ultimate mentor. During her 6th annual Starfish Foundation Gala, CafeMom had a chance to speak with the passionate broadcaster who's committed to helping underserved young women get "to and through" college. 

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Unlike many other scholarship programs, Starfish Foundation -- cofounded by O'Brien and her husband of more than 20 yearsBrad Raymond -- stands out in that it provides more hands-on mentoring than most.

Soledad lit up with pride as she spoke about the four young women set to graduate this year, all of whom were partially guided by the Starfish Foundation. 

More from CafeMom: On Raising Girls in a 'Boys Will Be Boys' World

When interacting with these scholars, Soledad applies her maternal touch, proving that mothering and mentoring have plenty in common.

Here are three golden nuggets that will undoubtedly assist in raising little girls to be strong women -- and will resonate with moms everywhere -- courtesy of O'Brien: 

1. "We need to tell our girls (and boys) all those amazing attributes we see in them, all the time, until they own them as their own."

I'm a big fan of unconditional love. I think many moms -- myself included -- will sometimes overtly or subtly tell our daughters what they need to fix -- do your hair like this, don't wear that, get more exercise.

That's all valid advice, but I think there are so few people in one's life who just truly think you're great for just existing, and I think a mom sending that message -- all the time -- is a really powerful thing.

Obviously, as a parent you need to be giving your child feedback and guidance -- 'Use a fork! Don't hit your brother! -- but I have really focused on giving tons and tons of positive feedback to both my own two daughters and our scholars! ... We need to tell our girls (and boys) all those amazing attributes we see in them, all the time, until they own them as their own.

More from CafeMom: Raising Boys vs. Girls: The Difference Is the Drama

2. "Take 24 hours to melt down."

When something went wrong, I freaked out, cried, sat in bed and ate ice cream from the carton -- for a day. My mom always said take 24 hours to melt down. But the next day, get it together, and make a plan.

3. "[Different children] need different things to be successful."

We decided that we would treat our scholars like our children, in that everybody needs individual attention. I have four kids ... and I have a set of twins, but even the twins need different things to be successful. And, we have that approach with our scholars.

Some need tutoring, some don't. Some need encouraging. Every girl who comes to us is an individual, they need different things, and the ideal of 'we're just mailing you a check for $500' was not enough to help a young woman get to and through college.

So we will do whatever it takes to get you through college -- if that's your dream. 

O'Brien said she sees the same individual challenges within her own family.

"I don't think you can scale education for an individual -- no more than I can scale education for my kids. Each kid needs what they need to be successful, but at the same time we wanted to be able to reach out to more young women and bring them the skills we knew would help them to be successful."

Great insight from a mom and a woman who's achieved so much and is committed to sharing what she's learned along the way.

 

Image via Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty

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