I was interviewing my mom yesterday and I decided to focus on things she would want our kids to know, her grandkids. One of the questions I asked her was about confidence. As a mom of five kids and a coach and teacher of many, many, kids…confidence is something I strive to teach all of them. I think self-love, self appreciation and an understanding of your gifts and how to use them is critical for having a happy and a successful life. As a young girl I can always remember my parents telling my sister and I that there was nothing that we couldn’t do if we wanted it badly enough.
They said that to us over and over and over, so much so, that I do believe my sister and I really believed that for most of our lives. We’ve been really blessed to have been given that lesson from our parents. I’m also not naïve enough to think that we didn’t learn that lesson from other places as well! Our parents put us in sports, arts, dance…literally all the things when we were kids! We were good at some of it and we were not so good at some of it. Yet all of those successes and failures and missteps helped build us in our confidence.
I also know that we were fortunate in our sports careers to play for other people who supported us and promoted us and told us that we were good, not just as players, but more importantly, as people. Finally, we had good friends and our friends had good parents and their parents also encouraged us and supported us and told us that we could make great things happen. For that, I am incredibly grateful.
I can remember saying to my parents as a young girl things like “you have to tell me that you’re my parents, you love me and you are biased.” My mom and I actually laughed about that today. But I learned yesterday that because my parents said all those things to us and encouraged and believed in us, it actually made it that much more believable when someone else said it. Wow. I guess I had never thought of it that way before.
Having people other than your parents in your life that tell you they believe in you and encourage you and that give the sense that you can do hard things is so critically important to developing the confidence of young people.
Now, this is not something that I didn’t already know or something that I don’t think about on a pretty regular basis. But… My mom said something to that really struck me, I think I’ve always known it, I guess I’ve just never really thought about it this way. She said “confidence comes from being loved, and your family teaches you that love before anyone else.”
In some ways it’s kind of a strange thing for her to say because she had such a horrible home life and as an outside person looking in it didn’t appear that her family “loved” her very much. They certainly didn’t care about her well-being enough to give her a good life. So as an outsider, I have to marvel of the fact that my mom grew up to be a confident person that believes she could do anything that she puts her mind to. She went on to become a teacher who instilled that same confidence in her students and of course her most important vocation, that of being a mother, where she instilled this belief into her two girls.
So that got me thinking a few things, first, how did someone who lived in such a horrible home environment grow in confidence the way that my mother did? In our discussion it led me to a few things. First, all the hardships that she went through helped to form her into the person that she has now. Which of course goes to show that we learn from everything in our life, the good, the bad and the ugly and my mom certainly had more ugly than most. Yet, somehow, she took all of that and it taught her that she could do hard things, she could overcome incredibly challenging things and still be a happy, fulfilled, confident, hard-working accomplished person despite all of that.
It’s really remarkable.
But the truth of the matter is that when you look at her life and her siblings lives she was one of five of them that was truly able to do that. This just goes to show you how hard it is to develop that confidence and self love when you don’t have a good start. It really is very challenging to come out on the other side and be the person that you were truly meant to be. But, it also means it isn’t impossible. This is one of the many reasons that my mom is my hero.
We also discussed the importance of having good influences outside your home. For my mom, that was critical, especially because she wasn’t getting confidence from her love at home. For her it was a teacher, people she worked with and later our father who really made her believe she was everything she really was.
We also discussed the concept of choice.
My mom had a choice on how she was going to respond to all the things that happened in her life. She could have chosen be a victim and complain about how hard her life was and how she didn’t have a fair shot, but she didn’t. She never let her upbringing hold her back, she never let it be a crutch or an excuse for bad behavior or poor choices or ultimately, her inability to find happiness. Thankfully, she was able to overcome all of that and become this magnificent person that impacted the lives of so many people, most importantly, her two children.
She and I talked about how our kids (mine and my sisters) are so blessed because they’re loved by so many people. They of course have us, their parents, they have their aunts and uncles and cousins, they have their grandparents on both sides, they have teachers, friends parents and coaches who push them, challenge them and love them. Those are all things that she never had, so in essence, our kids and the kids of many people that we know are so much further ahead than someone like my mom ever would’ve been.
As a mom of young kids, I would say more lately than ever before, I’ve worried about instilling confidence in our kids. I think the world they are growing up in is far more complex than the world that I grew up in. I know that there are challenges that they will face that I couldn’t have even have dreamed up when I was 10. It scares me a little, to be honest because I want to raise strong and confident children…people who are sure of who they are and their value in this world. I want our kids to believe (like I do) that there is not one thing in this entire world that they can’t do if they work hard enough and they believe in themselves.
I worry that I’m failing them and that mission every day.
But…my mom reminded me as she always does, that we’re doing everything we can right, because our kids are truly and deeply loved. Knowing that you’re loved breeds the ultimate confidence. Before this afternoon and this conversation I had never thought of it that way and it really helped bring me some peace. I know I’m not perfect, I know we will never be perfect parents or people, but I also know that our kids know that we love them and that no matter what, we always will.
I know that my kids are around other people who make them feel worthwhile and seen and heard and loved. I know that all of this will help them become the amazing human beings that we know they can be. I also now know that because we love them, the truth’s they hear from other people about their beauty, their goodness, their talents…are more believable.
So if any of you are anything like me and you worry a lot about how to raise good, kind, hard-working, strong willed, confident human beings in a world where things are really complex and sometimes really confusing…I hope my mom‘s definition of how to build confidence may help you as well. Confidence comes from knowing you are loved. It’s so simple.
So here’s to raising the best human beings that we possibly can in an effort to give them the best life possible so we can help make our world a better place.