Friday, August 28, 2009

Raising confident children when I lack confidence

As I write this entry, I am thinking about my role as a mother. I want to instill in my children a sense of confidence and teach them to live their lives courageously. How do I do that when I have had such poor self esteem? That has been my concern from the time I got pregnant 16 years ago.

In our house we have tried to stay away from words such as "fat" or "skinny." Teaching my kids that there is so much more to a person than his or her weight.

I have also told them to always ask if they want to do something, even if they think we can't afford it or we might say no. I was afraid to hear the word no, because I felt that if my parents said no, then it was a rejection of me. It doesn't hurt to ask. Hearing the word "no" is not anything against them. We try to give them an explanation as well, not just a "because I said so." Sometimes that is not easy to do, but it helps them to not take the no as a rejection of who they are.

I have also made a decision to let my children try things, even if I think they might have difficulty with it, or it might not be the right fit. I have a son that is hard of hearing, if he decides that he wants to be a singer in his life, I will help him find ways to do that. I won't tell him he is Pavarotti if he struggles (like some of those poor people on those singing competition shows that can't sing but have been told they are amazing by their loved ones), but we will find him a voice coach to help him find the best way for him to accomplish his goals. I don't want to say to him, "you can't do that because you have trouble hearing." I might say, "okay, so you want to sing for a living? What can we do to make that happen?" I want to encourage them in their lives.

I don't believe in constant praise, no matter what a child does. I think that there need to be consequences for behaviors that are unacceptable. That being said, I try not to be negative in my words to my children. I have not always been successful, and I have often asked for my children's forgiveness. I believe that admitting I am wrong, shows them that it is okay to make mistakes and that they are important enough to me that I will apologize when necessary. They are not my "property" and even though they are not adults, they are worthy of respect.

I remember how weird it felt when my mom would come to me after an argument and apologize. It also felt really good. Because I was old enough to know she overreacted, but I also knew my friends' parents didn't apologize to them. It made me feel valued. I only wish that I would have apologized to her more, I know now that I overreacted a lot more than she did! Sorry mom!

These are just a few things that I have used to raise my children to be more confident than me. My boys are 15 & 16 years old, and they are definitely worlds ahead of me! I am so proud of the young men they are becoming.

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