Teaching our children to love themselves: A lesson for my biracial children

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I love Maya Angelou. I recently bought one of her books of quotes, and it’s been a great way to get a quick pick-me-up during the day, or just to help me feel inspired when I need it. One of my favorites has been: “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

I’ve always been pretty far from normal and often found myself asking “who wants to be normal?” I can’t deny the fact that I was born with a unique spirit. One that is extremely curious and overly optimistic. There have rarely been situations that I’ve walked into and thought “I can’t do this.” Usually I am utterly shocked when I realize after the fact that I wasn’t ready for a particular challenge.

Teaching our kids to love themselves

When I attended BYU, students took their exams in a building known as “the Testing Center.” After scanning your ID someone hands you your test and you’re wished good luck before heading into a large room full of desks and other test-takers. Every time I left the building and walked down the stairs to the screen which would display my score next to my student ID number, I expected to see a high score. Even if I hardly prepared, I thought my guessing skills would pay off and get me at least a B. Nearly every time I was wrong. I think my testing center average at BYU was somewhere around 50. But I always went down those stairs full of confidence and, hope.

Teaching my kids to love themselves.

There were occasions during my youth when other people’s opinions of me influenced me more than my own view of myself. But luckily that was short lived. As I’ve grown I’ve learned to love myself, my opinions, and who I am inside and out. I think there’s something to be said about that. Somewhere at the root of that confidence (even if somewhat misguided), the willingness and desire to love yourself gives you the power to live a happy life, and love others.

“I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves and tell me, ‘I love you.’… There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” – Maya Angelou.

Teaching my kids to love themselves.

My daughter knows not to tell me she can’t do something. It’s not a word I will accept. She must realize it’s possible, and at least try. The same will go for my son when he has the audacity or vocabulary to throw out that word.

At some point in my daughter’s life someone will tell her she is ugly, someone may call her stupid, or incapable. People may stereotype my son, may find our family inappropriate, or our religion odd. They’re going to run into people who dislike them. But they’ll be armed with my uplifting words of encouragement, and limitless love. I want them to have an undying love for themselves.

Teaching my kids to love themselves.

In the words of Ne-Yo, “Let me love you, and I will love you until you learn to love yourself.”

I often ask my daughter to describe herself and I love hearing what she says. They’re all compliments: “I’m a good artist, I’m nice, I like to cuddle…” And she adores when I help list off the other fabulous qualities she possesses.

Although my extreme optimism occasionally sets me up for disappointment, I think it’s a quality that lends more positives than negatives; Part of that being the ability to love myself, and I hope that’s a trait that rubs off on my two beautiful children who I know have the power to be amazing.

Teaching my kids to love themselves.

Teaching my kids to love themselves.

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  1. Love your optimism! I am the same in some ways. It is extremely important to build up our children. I have noticed that it takes a very long time to repair an adult whose spirit and confidence was broken. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have loved that part of that NeYo song, but now it almost made me cry! Thanks for pointing that out. I might have to put it up on my 'Someday going to happen' gallery quote wall that I haven't made 🙂 And I love this thought process. Someone told me that rather than always congratulating my children, which might lead them to just strive to earn my praise, they told me to ask them "how does that make you feel" or "doesn't it feel great to do that?" I did that on the park a couple weeks ago. My son freely shared with a little girl and I was so proud. I cheerily asked my son "yay! How did that make you feel to share with her?" And he replied "Good!" An older lady who was a nanny came over to me and practically hugged me and cheered me on for the exchange. It was one of my prouder mom moments 🙂 Thank you for the reminder to continue to do that.

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