The Gift of Confidence Only a Parent Can Give

Why did you do that?  What were you thinking?  I told you how, why didn’t you do it the way I said?  You didn’t listen, did you!  You didn’t work hard enough.  You’re not big enough, strong enough, fast enough, smart enough….etc.  And worst of all…the system is not fair. Have you said any of the above?  Sure, we parents all do at one time or another.  We think we are helping by grabbing the child’s attention and getting them to see they are on the wrong path.  But what if that wrong path had its own lesson?  What if we instead guided with: You are smart, what did you learn from your mistake?  You are smart, you are strong, you are quick, you are destined to win at whatever your choose…just don’t give up.  The system may not be fair for everyone, but you are smart and talented.  You will rise to the top, just keep believing in yourself. Being in my fifties now, I have a reflective mind.  My core personality is a fixer.  My passion is children.  What I have learned through experience and studies of how the brain develops is children do not need fixing…parents do. Yes there are some children who are strong willed, some who are special needs, all will test your patients at times, but they all started at the same place in life and we adults created the connections in their brains that lead them to be who they are or who they are not.  Nature is what they came into the world with and nurturing is how we help our children develop what nature gifted. Sometimes it is our own fear that leads us down the wrong rode of correction.  We fear they will do wrong.  We fear they will fail.  We fear they will not be big enough, strong enough, fast enough, smart enough or the system will not be fair for them.  We gift them—pass on—our fear for their future which can become their own stumbling block. The world is a complex place where fair is not always present.  Where there are real things to be feared. The best gift we can give to children is confidence.  Confidence will become their shield to both defend and win over fear and difficulties.  Confidence, not conceit, is developed through positive reinforcement a 100 times a day.  In the little things, the big things and the tender I love you things. I write this piece for you today after realizing that I too passed on my fear to my son.  I have raised him with positive reinforcement and a million “mama’s lectures” for his safety and success.  Recently, he has achieved top athlete levels in all the conditioning aspects of his sport and his moment is upon him.  But when he is given the light, he stumbles.  I have been searching my mind for what could be causing this.  It hit me this morning, fear.  Fear of not being good enough, not knowing enough.  Fear of failing when it means so much emotionally to succeed.  As I contemplate where the fear originated, I realized I was a source.  It is my fear that he may not be big enough, fast enough, strong enough.  It was me who was afraid of the politics and competitiveness of his sport.  My fear of the chance he may be disappointed and what imprint that would leave behind.  I realized the best way to help my son was for me to release my fear and in turn gift him the flight of confidence that he would find his own way to conquer his world. Father and daughters wearing superhero suit. isolated on whiteRaising children can be difficult and we adults will never make all the right decisions.  But in our love and in our willingness to continually grow our efforts to be good teachers of life, the children we nurture will always have a shield of confidence.  Confidence that we have their back.  Confidence that they are loved. Confidence that being who they are and doing their best will always be good enough.

The Father’s Role and Impact in Raising Children

Father Helping Daughter With HomeworkI selected this topic of research as part of a degree program in Early Child Education.  What I found was that the important development age for a child is approximately 7 years old.  This period in a child’s life is so important that it has a strong influence through age 20.  Thus fathers’ interaction during these years are very important and can shape the likely outcome of teen and early adulthood where many life shaping decisions are being made.

Research has shown that a child’s cognitive abilities score higher when fathers (biological or otherwise) are involved in the care and rearing of their children.  Fathers who are involved with their child’s schooling and academic achievements increase the likelihood their child will graduate from high school and go on to higher education.  There are lower rates of childhood violence, delinquency and resistance to authority and an increase in self-confidence, compassion and life skills.[1]

According to the Father Involvement Research Alliance (FIRA) Flouri and Buchanan (2004), “…father and mother involvement at age 7 independently predicted educational attainment by age 20 for both sons and daughters.” “Children of involved fathers are more likely to have higher levels of economic and educational achievement, career success, occupational competency, better educational outcomes, higher educational expectations, higher educational attainment, and psychological well being.”[2]

It’s more than just “two heads are better than one”, when it comes to raising children.  Men tend to have a physical and analytical interaction with children that stimulates cognitive development differently than the nurturing interactions of the typical woman. Questioning is of the what and the why vs. the how and the who.  For example, a mom may ask, “How was your day at school today?” whereas dad would likely ask, “What did you do in school today?”  It is not to say one line of questioning is better than the other or to say that mom’s wouldn’t ask the question in a similar manner; it is the concert of the two and their differences that expand a child’s thinking and understanding of their environment.

FIRA research makes a strong case to support the claim that father involvement is positively correlated with a child’s overall satisfaction with his or her life.  That is a powerful statement.  But the benefit is not only to the child.  FIRA research show that “involved fathers report fewer accidental and premature deaths, less than average contact with the law, less substance abuse, fewer hospital admissions, and a greater sense of well being overall.” Fathers may feel the demands of the family’s economic needs preclude the luxury of being an integral part of parenting.  However, research has shown that the quality of the time spent is a, if not the, determining factor. “There is no single “right” way for fathers to be involved. Instead, there are many types of father involvement in all aspects of raising a child.” “Research has found that the value of father involvement is determined by the quality of the interaction between fathers and their children – for example, a father’s responsiveness to the needs of his child – rather than the amount of time fathers spend with their children.”[3]

Family is not just a word. It is a way of life that helps each member achieve the most that life can afford. Invest time with your children and it will pay dividends to your life and theirs.

[1]  Retrieved 2/8/2015

[2]  Retrieved 2/8/2015 [

3]  Retrieved 2/8/2015

The Child Who Taught Me to Give

It was about five years ago when I arrived at a little girl’s home with a white box with orange and pick ribbons tied festively in a bow to secure the contents inside.  Sarah was the Via E girl of the month.  She was awarded this honor after her mother wrote in and submitted an entry telling of how Sarah had shown compassion and leadership to help others.

I was especially impressed with Sara because she gave of herself in a very personal way.  Sarah spent 8 months growing her hair with the intention of cutting it off and donating it to help girls who had lost their own hair due to sickness.

Sarah had a sweet smile and sported a freshly cut bob hairstyle.  In her presence I actually felt a bit small.  Here was a girl not older than seven years who had given one of the most prized possessions a little girl has…her own hair.  Sarah and her mom’s impression never left me.  I had to do more.

I later found more girls who were giving of their hair.  How wonderful, I thought!  But admiring, praising and even rewarding others who care so deeply for others that they literally give of themselves was not enough.  I wanted to join in and help too.

haircutIt began 18 months ago.  I decided I would grow my hair for another.  Over the period of time, I would take care not to damage my hair because it was not my own anymore…I was growing it for some girl who couldn’t grow her own hair.  As it took on that long hair look, I would periodically take out my tape measure to see how close I was to my goal of ten inches.  As we came into the year end of 2014, I knew I would reach my goal by Valentine’s Day 2015.  My Valentine gift would be to help a girl smile by sending her a piece of my heart by way of my hair to cover her own hair loss.

With all the planning, caring and waiting, I found that it wasn’t enough…what I mean is that I could only help one girl.  That’s when I remembered Sarah and her mom.  Sarah inspired me so maybe I can inspire someone(s) too.  AND then they could inspire more and so on and so on.  There are more of us who can grow hair than girls who can’t.  So all we need to do is care enough to donate and inspire others to do the same.

You can start your journey today.

There is a wonderful organization that gives FREE wigs to girls who have lost their hair due to illness.  They will continue to provide wigs until the girl(s) in need reach 21 years old.

I just sent my hair to them today…ten inches!  But they will take as short as eight inches.

It doesn’t require money to love and give of oneself.  The only requirement is a heart full of love and willing to help others in need.

Thank you, Sarah, for teaching me this very special lesson. An thank you to all those who have already taken this journey and continue to inspire others.