A few weeks ago I asked my friends on Facebook for inspiration for my next blog topic. I love writing about my own experiences but I thought it would be different to write about a requested topic. One particular response that came from a friend of mine was to write about boosting confidence in young girls. I loved the idea of that topic. After all, I am a “girl”, I’ve taught girls, and I have a daughter. Piece of cake, I thought. Boy, was I wrong. I sat in front of that computer and my mind went blank. What was wrong with me? I usually have no problems writing about topics that I’m passionate about it. But this was just not coming to me. Although I have a little girl, I realized that trying to boost her confidence was not something I had begun to think about. After all, she’s only 15 months so this was something that really didn’t need to be on my radar yet, or so I thought. A week or so after my “brain fart” and non-existent promised blog post, I had an experience that made me realize I had better start thinking about this, and quick:
While over at a friend’s for a fun Friday night gathering, my daughter sat on the floor with another little girl who was around the age of 3. As the girl sat coloring with a marker, a huge bag of at least 70 additional markers sat next to her. Being curious, my little Bean tottled over and reached in the bag to pull out a marker, when the 3 year old snapped out of her drawing trance and with squinted eyes, yelled, “Hey! stop I’m using those!” Immediately, I switched into my teacher voice, hoping to diffuse the situation, “Sweetie, you have a lot of markers. Can you please let her use one and when she’s done, she’ll give it back to you?” That ought to do the trick right? NOPE, it didn’t. The little girl just stared at me and responded just as snappy as before, “No, I’m using them! I don’t like her!” Wow, I did not see that coming. Naturally, all my teacher instincts went out the window. And as I pictured myself snatching the bag of markers from the little girl and perhaps bumping her slightly with my bottom, I looked at my daughter who had already moved on to the next thing, totally unfazed by the whole situation.
And it was at that exact moment that it occurred to me that I am the mother of a little girl and having been a little girl myself, I know that “girl world” is a heck of a lot different from what I was use to when raising the boys. I had to start thinking about building her confidence much sooner than I thought.
I had an epiphany that evening and I realized that it has to be one of my many goals to make sure that I raise a little girl that is so confident, she will be able to walk away, unfazed, moving on to the next thing if someone else says “No, I don’t like you”. But how? Where do I begin?
When it comes to raising a girl, it’s so common to hear people say, “make sure you tell her she’s beautiful” so that she can be confident. But somehow, I don’t think that’s enough. Sure, this has to be one part of building her self –esteem. Girls, people, and the world can be cruel and judgmental when deciding what look is “in” and what features are favorable. My little girl will definitely need to know that she is wonderfully made both inside and out. And though I think that this is a small part of creating a confident little girl, it is going to take something big from me. I have to first understand that I am her first example of what she will aspire to be. With that said, I have to show her what it looks like to love myself, flaws and all. I have to continue to embrace my natural hair so that she can embrace hers. I have to love all 4 foot 11 inches of me no matter how tall everyone else stands around me. I have to resist the urge to show signs of self-loathing, realizing that every time I critique my cellulite, and inability to acquire the perfect hourglass figure that my Bean is watching and she will criticize those same things on herself. I will have to tell myself that I am beautiful and show her that we are beautiful.
But this is not enough. One day my daughter may encounter someone else who tells her “You can’t use my markers”, “You can’t come to my party”, “You can’t be my friend” “I don’t like you”. Her knowing that she is beautiful won’t help her to walk away unfazed. The only way that she is going to be able to keep it moving, head held high, when she is rejected is if she understands that people who didn’t make you don’t have the power to break you. She will also need to understand that she can move on to the next thing and that there is something out there made especially for her. As her mom, I’ve been charged with the job of truly seeing my daughter for her talents and skills and I must nurture those things so that she can grow to understand how special she is. If her eyes are bright and focused on the goals that she and I set for her, then she will be too busy in her own world to care that someone has rejected her from theirs.
But even that may not be enough. One day, with her knowing that she is beautiful and having a goal in mind, she may be told that she still can’t do something just because she is a girl. Well for that, I simply say, thankfully she has two big brothers to run side by side with. She already tries to keep up with them and they have already proven to be her biggest supporters.
I don’t know if this is the perfect formula for raising a confident girl. I’ve never raised one before but I’m thinking that with beauty, drive and strength my baby girl will also have the courage and determination to walk tall (no matter how tiny she may be), and proud as she navigates her way through “Girl World”.
Talk to you soon,
Share with me: Where does your confidence come from? Who helped you to gain that confidence? What did they do?