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For the last two nights tucking Audra into bed, as a part of our night time ritual, I asked her what she was grateful for.  Without hesitation, she looked at me and said, “I’m grateful for being me.”  It stopped me in my tracks, heart swelling.  “That just might be one of my favourite things you’ve ever said you’re grateful for”, I replied.  “Loving yourself is so important.”  To which she replied, “But of course I love myself, mommy!”

Self love.  It all starts there.  Wow.

When I witness my kids expressing positive feelings about themselves it gives me great joy.   Perhaps it is knowing how essential it is to start with ourselves – that the degree of respect, confidence, love or assertiveness we have in our lives starts with our own self esteem.  So I guess it make sense that my heart soars when I see or hear evidence of that being well nurtured in my kids.

Truth be told, working with a lot of people, I think often of all the ways we limit ourselves, play small, or focus on our faults rather than our strengths.  And I’ve been guilty of it, too.  But seeing how self love translates into every area of our life, I consider it one of my greatest jobs as a mom to foster healthy self esteem in my kids.  Life will throw plenty of challenges their way, I am sure.  I want them to be able to stand strong, know and love themselves, and be their best – even when the going gets tough.  Especially when the going gets tough.

Being a mom to a little girl, I am very conscious of the messages I send her.  I’d have to put her in a bubble to avoid the messages that are sent to little girls by media and society – and the enormous emphasis that is placed on appearance, beauty and fitting an ideal.  It’s sadly evident in many girls’ toys, dolls, shows, and movies – it’s everywhere.  We embrace the positive female portrayals wherever we can find them (like her recent love of Zena, Warrior Princess.  When I asked her why she loves it so much, she said:  “She’s brave and strong and helps people.  Nobody beats her.  And she’s pretty.”)  While we may limit poor influences when we can, we feel that it is more important to teach her about true beauty.

We try to teach her to focus on inner beauty before outward appearance.  We want her to love herself enough to choose good friends, make good decisions, and to have the courage to try new things.  We want her to go through life with awareness, confidence and a deep inner knowing of her own strengths and abilities.  We want her to dream big, with no limits and know that she can do and be anything.

And it all starts with loving herself.   There is no stronger foundation.