When I entered the motherhood circle at the young age of 19, I got a lot of advice about how to take care of my daughter’s physical needs. Breastfeeding, cloth diapers, nap time, burping, cereal in bottles, etc. Wherever I turned, there seemed to be an abundance of women ready, willing, and able to teach me the basics of keeping my daughter alive and well. What I don’t remember is an abundance of women sharing advice on raising emotionally well human beings. And, at 19 years old, I was not equipped to think about my responsibility to raise an emotionally well human. So, as a young mother, I poured into my daughter by focusing on providing a decent life, cultural exposure, and opportunities for advancement.
Emotional well being is something that we as moms sometimes take for granted. If we are “taking care of our children”, the emotional part will come.
Now, more mature and the mother of three girls, I look back. I wish some mothers would have been talking to me about the things I should consider to ensure that I raised emotionally well daughters. Could such conversations help to combat the number of girls and women that are out there struggling with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and not being good enough? I think so. As mothers, we have to take an active approach and declare war on societies ability to break our daughters down. We also have to make sure we are not subconsciously playing a role in the break down of our daughter’s psyche. What better way to do that than to be proactive about making sure our girls are emotionally well and strong.
In an effort to win the war against the negative societal influences that play mental games with my daughters’ psyche, I have changed my approach.
Now that I have a chance to offer some advice, here are a few things I would share with mothers that are seeking to raise the best humans they can raise.
Teach your daughters to strive for excellence
Of course, I want my daughters to be the best versions of themselves. To do that, they must strive for excellence. The way I see it, the old folks were right when they said hard work ain’t never hurt nobody. Striving for excellence is a necessary part of becoming financially and mentally independent because it helps us to grow and evolve as human beings. Thus, I highly recommend you encourage your daughters to strive for excellence.
Butttttt… Don’t take yourself too seriously
This is the part I completely missed. Don’t take yourself too seriously!
I am neurotic to a fault. To give you an example, as a lawyer, when I have gotten a not guilty verdict, I would spend more time dissecting the things I could do better next time than I did celebrating the victory. Crazzzzzzy right? God forbid I lose a trial, which of course I have done. I cannot even begin to describe how hard I would come down on myself. Real talk, I was taking myself too seriously, and I needed to chill. My ability to chill has definitely had a positive effect on my household because more than anything, I have given my daughters permission to relax and not take themselves too seriously.
Along with the chill I have had to incorporate PERMISSION TO FAIL into the mix
I cannot tell you the number of times I ran around my home telling my daughters, “failure is not an option”. I prided myself on being “tiger mom” extraordinaire until I opened my eyes to the real damage such messaging was doing. When I thought about it, here is what I realized my daughters were hearing, “Be excellent! Although I know you are human and did not come into the world knowing everything, you are not allowed to make any mistakes along the way. If so, I will consider you a failure”. Such messaging paralyzes little girls because it creates emotional turmoil. Little girls receiving that message will more than likely end up playing it safe because safety almost guarantees no failure. Playing it safe interferes with their opportunity to realize their full potential.
Failure is an option and is almost guaranteed, so give your children permission to fail. Teach them to use those failures as an opportunity to learn and grow. Celebrate them for striving even if they failed. This will give them the freedom to relax so that they can take a chance on realizing their dreams.
Don’t be so judgmental
We all have done it as women, look at what another woman is doing with our noses turned up and thought about how we would do it so much better than her. Let’s teach our girls to chill with that judgment mindset. The best way to accomplish this is for us to chill with that judgment mindset. Women should not be made to feel they have to justify the decisions they have made for their life by other women.
I don’t know about you, but it hasn’t felt good to me as a mother to see my daughters in emotional pain because their peers have actively looked for their “flaws” in an effort to break them down. Getting rid of that judgment mindset will go a long way in reducing these experiences.
Block out the societal noise and learn to trust your instinct
Society can be a B!T%H sometimes. I don’t know any other way to put it. We have to teach our children the importance of blocking out the societal noise that is steering them down a path they know is not right for them. We waste too much time trying to please the world when oftentimes the world is not necessarily concerned with pleasing you. And societal noise can greatly interfere with our children’s ability to live their best life!
Okay, well there’s my two cents! As usual, I look forward to hearing what advice you have to offer.