When I was a girl I had no idea how lucky I was. I thought every little girl had a loving home full of support and encouragement. I thought all children had a mom and a dad who listened to their unique perspective and truly believed their children could conquer the world. I didn’t think too much about how it would feel if I didn’t have this soft place to land or the solid foundation at home to keep me from losing myself, especially during those tough pre-teen and teen years. And I never thought about what kind of a grown-up person I would be if I hadn’t lived this way because I was busy figuring out who I was.
However, now I see it clearly. I see it in my children’s friends and in my friends as parents. I see how the core of who one is is built on the foundation of one’s childhood. Now, as an adult and a parent myself, I see how critical that secure and nurturing childhood is to the well-being and success of our children out in the world. And, sadly, I see how few people are blessed enough to have it.
My parents passing on the legacy of love to their grandchildren.
How is it possible to confidently make decisions out of love even when they go against the grain if you never experienced this yourself as a child? How is it possible to nurture your children’s unique and individual spirit, help them to feel confident in who they are and value their difference, when you were taught to toe the line and “fit in”? How is it possible to avoid passing on your own insecurities to your children if they are founded in doubt passed on through generations before you?
I see the impact of my parent’s legacy of self-acceptance on myself as an imperfect but self-confident and self-aware adult and I also see it on the little people in my life every day. My children are both unique. They are very good students and stellar athletes but what makes me most proud is that they both have a strong sense of themselves. They are not threatened by others because they feel good about who they are. My son said to me the other day, “I don’t understand why my friends talk about who they can’t stand or who they don’t like. Everybody has something good about them so why don’t we talk about that?” Amazing.
And my daughter. The other day as we got ready to go to the theatre production of The Lion King I instructed her to put on something “fancy”. She doesn’t have much but I thought black jeans and a glittery t-shirt would do. Instead, she came down in something I would have thought too casual and said, “I know this isn’t what you call “fancy” but I think I look pretty.” How can I argue with that?
My point is that this is what will make them happy and successful in life, not trophies and the “right” friends and public recognition. Just like my parents did for me I want to give my kids the confidence to love and accept themselves. They may not be rich or famous or #1 but this gift will lead to a life full of joy. I should know.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt