Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Put Your Own Mask On First

 I have been extremely thoughtful on how I choose to boost the girls self confidence. This is something Kevin and I have been mindful since the girls started to understand language.
When you have girl children the compliments around them tend to lean toward the "Wow, you have beautiful girls", or "aren't they cute, sweet, pretty." You get the picture. At home I like to throw in a different kind of positive reinforcement .  When they struggle with something, whether it be school or sports.  I remind them persistence pays off. I let them know we are not looking for perfection, but rather for them to do the best they can do.  When their feelings are hurt on the playground, we talk about the meaning of what true friendship is. Would a true friend stand by while other friends say mean things? I ask them to ask themselves, "what would you do?" I console them as they come to terms with the fact that not everyone is nice, that not everyone wants to be our friend, and the hardest idea, not everyone will like us. Once that sinks in, we talk about why that makes our true friends something we should truly appreciate and treasure.

They tend to talk amongst themselves a lot about what they want to be when they grow up. Sometimes it's a doctor, other times it's an astronaut, artist, teacher, president. Over and over and over again, I tell them they can grow up to be whatever it is they want.  Elizabeth once told Abbie it would be really hard to be President, and Abbie just replied, "Yeah I know, but I can do it". She didn't miss a beat, she acknowledged it would be hard, yet it didn't scare her off and there was definitely no confidence lost in her response. That exchange really hit home for me and it also made me think about how I  view myself.

I have made it my life's mission to make sure these kids know they are smart, strong, creative, funny, can achieve anything they put their minds to and are worthy of respect.
Listening to Abbie I wondered when did I stop believing all that was possible for myself? I don't think I'm alone in this position. I have so many friends that bend over backward for their children. They give them the best of everything. I'm not talking about material goods. I am speaking about doing the work that really and truly shapes a child. To let them know day in and day out they are loved, to sit at the table and work together on homework and school projects. To race home from work and get them to soccer, baseball or ballet. Make their favorite dinner. Praise them when the note is sent home to let us know, just how good they were in school today. To stop whatever it is we are doing and give them those moments they need to feel important to us. To listen, to encourage, to provide constructive criticism.

We are so very good at doing these things for our children, but so many of us have stopped doing them for ourselves. How many times have we diminished ourselves instead of giving ourselves the pep talk we needed? Are we listening to each other? Are we encouraging each other? Are we praising each other? I don't think there is an age where that stops being important and yet it is no longer a priority for us or our peers. How many times have we had the thoughts, " I can't do it,  "I'm not strong enough", "I'm too old now", "I'm too tired" "I'm too fat" and on and on. Do we stand up to the "playground bullies" or are we politically correct? Do we value ourselves enough to let go of friendships that add more chaos and less love?

Can we really and truly set a good example for our kids, if we are not taking care of ourselves? We all know children pick up on everything they see and hear. It affects the way they think, behave and view the world.

I think it's time we remember we need to put on our own oxygen masks first. How can we affectively help our kids if we are not first helping ourselves.  We need to remind ourselves, our spouses and best friends,  that " Hey, I think you are strong, smart, funny, can do anything you put your mind to."

It's never too late.