Father’s Day Edition: Building confidence and self worth in daughters.

June 14, 2019

 

I asked my husband Gabe to write today’s post in honor of all the fathers and father figures out there fighting the good fight….

 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Early on in my career as an educator and mentor, I saw how an alarming number of kids lacked confidence. Not the type of confidence that comes with the belief in their ability to succeed at a given task, but the type of fundamental confidence that is rooted in security. ​​​​​

It became clear how adolescents more than anything need to feel secure and safe, so that when challenges arise in their lives, (ie: family challenges, peer challenges, school challenges, financial challenges, and so on) they have an internal foundation of security they can pull from. The type of security that can allow their personal identity to gradually develop with a confidence in their own self worth. Now, as a father of girls, I see the experience I gained as a mentor and teacher to these young ladies with priceless value as I raise my own girls.​​​​​​​ Here are a few main actions I am practicing to positively instill self worth and confidence in my daughters….

 

 

I really do believe that a few intentional actions can go a long way in fostering this confidence in children, especially when his or her father (or a father figure) doubles down on these actions. Even if their primary parent is their mother, it is still very possible to have this accomplished by other important role models in their life. In my own life for instance, my Opa (grandfather), an uncle, a best friend’s father, and a select group of coaches and teachers have greatly shaped the way I wanted to live my life. The same can be said for a young lady. What is important is being vigilant and open to those relationships that can shape her life.

 

Reading to children

 

First – affirmation. I try to find a way to compliment Veronica (and Zelie to a lesser degree) daily, not only when something good happens, but also at random times. Those “just because” affirmations especially help to reinforce a sense of unconditional love, and recognition her strengths. My goal in doing this is to acknowledge and reinforce that she is invaluable, unique, and unlike anyone else. But selfishly, I also love seeing her face light up into a sheepish smile, which right now is missing three, soon to be four teeth.

 

 

Second – a listening ear and interest in their lives. I think every young girl desires to be seen and understood. Because of this I really try to make a concerted effort to regularly stop and truly listen to what she has to say throughout the week by cultivating open lines of communication. For instance, asking Veronica questions about her day to extend the conversation, and seek more details. To be honest, this can be a difficult thing to do with how noisy our busy house of people can be! This doesn’t mean I let her jabber on to her heart’s content, but I do want her to know that her ideas are important, that she is worth listening to, and that I enjoy spending time with her.

 

 

Third – mistakes are ok. I try to take the time to explain and regularly remind Veronica of her qualities and strengths, but also instill in her a sense that those gifts are meant to be given to others and shared out of love. I know she needs to understand through positive reinforcement when those qualities are used well, and also understand when they aren’t being put into practice the right way. I hope that by openly discussing a failure, and the consequences of the failure through gentle redirection and conversation, she will learn and grow from it. Honestly, holding firm on those consequences can be hard for me. I put on a tough exterior, but my heart is filled with the pink fluffy cream of a unicorn sprinkle doughnut, and it is hard not to cave when it comes to my girls.

Finally – Sacrificial love is a gift to be given. I believe the most important and influential gift that I can give my girls is to show them what sacrificial love is. Love is a choice we make to do what is best for those around us, not just what we desire for ourselves. Everything written above has this single element as the root and ultimate goal. My hope is also to show them what random intentional acts of love and service look like. Such as the gift of flowers, telling my daughters they are beautiful inside and out, unexpected compliments, a letter of love, acts of service, etc. done at random times for both them and their mother. I really hope that through these things Azelie and Veronica will recognize and value those same modeled actions in others. I know that this will guide them in future friendships and potential relationships, and also help them put those same acts of love into practice in their own lives. I deeply desire for them to find comfort and familiarity with others that exemplify courage, integrity, warmth, humility, and honesty so that Veronica and Azelie will grow up with the core belief that they are worthy of and deserving of love.

Photography by Chelsey Heidorn

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