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As parents of girls, we want to raise our daughters to grow up and become confident, successful young women. That is not an easy task in a world in which women are harshly judged for their appearance, and smart, ambitious women are viewed with suspicion.

Because to the unique challenges faced by young women, it is so important that we pay special attention to how we raise our girls. We can’t let our daughter’s grow like weeds, untended, and hope that they turn out OK.  That is a very dangerous gamble.

Instead, when raising girls, we need to do everything that we can to build up their confidence. When they ultimately leave home, we want them to go into the world knowing that they are beautiful, smart and capable.  We want them to be secure enough to withstand the judgment and criticism they invariably will face on occasion.

If, like me, you are raising a daughter, consider some of the parenting tips below. Our daughters are precious, indeed.  As a result, we need to make every effort to ensure that our girls grow up to be strong, confident and successful young women.

Encourage: You cannot encourage girls enough. Not only do girls have to deal with society’s sometimes antiquated ideas about what girls can and cannot do, but they also have to contend with the media’s very narrow idea of what it means to be attractive.

So, at every opportunity, we need to encourage our girls. We need to regularly tell our daughters that they are smart and beautiful.  We need to tell them that they can do anything that they set their minds to.  And we need to send this message so often that it permeates every fiber of their being.  Only then can our daughters go out into the world with their heads held high, in spite of the negative feedback that they may receive.

Don’t Make Marriage a Goal: Marriage is a lovely institution – when it works. When it doesn’t work, it is a complete nightmare.  A bad marriage can ruin your self-esteem and derail your career.  So, it isn’t something that girls should dream of doing.  Instead, marriage is a choice that a woman can make if she happens to fall in love with someone who is marriage material (meaning the guy is responsible and inclined toward family life).

Marriage should not be a goal that we foist upon our daughters. If we do, they’ll feel obligated to marry the first guy that comes along.  We should convey that success has nothing to do with whether or not you are married.  Rather, it has to do with becoming financially independent, being kind and generous, and serving society in some way.

Help Her Find Her Passion:  The best thing you can do for your daughter is to help her find an activity that she is passionate about.  Then you need to help her figure out how to translate that activity into a career.

So often, women sell themselves short, professionally. They will choose a career which accommodates the family’s schedule, even if they don’t find that career personally rewarding.  Instead, help your daughter pursue a career that she loves.

With a career that she loves, your daughter will be less likely to enter into a bad marriage in order to feel personally successful. And a good career will provide her with the financial independence and confidence that comes from a job well done.

Helping your daughter find her passion requires you to pay close attention to her. What does she do well?  What activity does she lose track of time while doing?  Look for clues and encourage her.  Then, think of careers that might fit her interests. Encourage her by saying, “You would be a great teacher/scientist/business owner.”  Plant the seeds to inspire your daughter to do something wonderful with her life.

Tell Her to Dream Big: In a well-meaning way, we sometimes can discourage our girls.  We might say things like, “That profession is very hard for women to break into.”  Or, “Very few people make it in that field.”  So what if something is hard?  Your daughter might be the first U.S. President.  She might become a CEO or a professional fisherwoman.  But she will never do anything great if you tell her that what she is trying to do is just too hard.

As the Norman Vincent Peale saying goes, if you let her shoot for the moon, she may miss it, but she’ll land among the stars.

Disourage Catty Behavior: As parents, one of the best things that we can do is to discourage catty, mean behavior in our girls. Girls can be very cruel.  The unkind comments I hear some girls make is shocking to me.  Good parents aggressively nip that behavior in the bud.

I have zero tolerance for meanness, and when I observe it in other people’s children, it speaks volumes to me about the parents. In fact, you often will see mean behavior run in families.  Invariably, the parents will chock it up to “sibling banter.”  What it is, is bad manners and poor ethics training.

Girls need to be taught at home to be supportive and encouraging toward others. Kindness is the quality that should be promoted above all.  And the bitchiness that too often can be part of girls’ behavior should be swiftly shut down.

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Raising girls is an awesome responsibility. The challenges faced by parents who want to raise successful, decent young ladies are many.  However, if you work hard, your reward will be a daughter who is smart, successful and a blessing in this world.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

My first book, The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother, is now available on Amazon for only $2.99!  If you purchase a copy, consider writing a review.  I would be delighted to hear your feedback!

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“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

I am now at an age when I and many of my friends have high school age children. So, of course, our minds are on grades, SAT scores and college. Parents and kids put a lot of thought into picking the right college based on academics, social life and cost.

But we can get so wound up about picking the right school for our children that we miss the bigger picture. What I tell my daughter about college, and about life generally, is this: It really doesn’t matter where you start out in life.  It doesn’t matter where you go to college.  The only thing that really matters in life is whether you seize your opportunities.

So, it doesn’t matter whether you go to Harvard or community college. It doesn’t matter whether you grow up rich or poor.  What matters is whether you take every opportunity given to you and do something with it.

If you think about some of the most successful people in our country, most came from very humble beginnings. People who immediately come to mind are Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Oprah.  They are people who started with very little, but who ran with every opportunity given to them.

My daughter is a great example of what happens when you seize your opportunities. In 7th and 8th grade, her middle school teacher offered to sponsor any student who wanted to compete in the National History Day competition.  My daughter was the only student to take her up on this offer.

One year she made it to the state finals. The second year, she created a short documentary for the competition.  She didn’t place, but a more important thing happened.  She realized that she had a passion for filmmaking.  She now knows that she wants to become a documentary filmmaker when she grows up.

The question then is, “How do you get opportunities in life?” There is only one way that I know of – hard work.  Hard work always leads to opportunities.  That is why I am continually amazed at how many people are content to do the bare minimum in life.  I can assure you that if you work hard, have a positive attitude and do a little bit more than is expected, you will be presented with opportunities.  People in power will want to advance you.  The reality is that hard work, professionalism, attention to detail, and good manners will take you farther in this world than a diploma from an Ivy League school.

Every day, we are presented with opportunities to do excellent work, whether it be at school, at our jobs, or in our communities. Seize those opportunities.  Run with them.  In life, when you do your best with one opportunity, invariably another will follow.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. When we have high self-esteem, we view ourselves as capable.  We consider ourselves to be worthy of love, to be paid a proper wage, and to be treated with respect.

If we have low self-esteem, we question why anyone would love us. We believe that we are too dumb or too unskilled to be successful.  And we think that if people are mean to us, we must have done something to deserve it.

We all have periods when we suffer from low self-esteem. At times in my life, I have wondered whether I had the courage to face the challenges before me.  And there have been moments when I have wondered, “Am I worthy of being loved by another human being?”

Our self-esteem can be attacked by others, and sometimes it can be attacked by our own misguided thinking. That is why it is important to bulletproof your self-esteem.  You want to protect it, so that you can feel confident at all times.

Below are some approaches help you bulletproof your self-esteem and keep it always high and intact.

Remember That You Were Created by God

God created you with a certain height, skin tone, hair color and personality. He made you that way for a reason.  If someone chooses to criticize your appearance or personality, don’t listen to them.  Listen to God.  He is the one who created you.  He thinks you are perfect just the way you are.  More importantly, He made you in a certain way so that you could carry out His purpose for your life.

It took me a long time to understand this fact. So often in my life, I’ve wished that I was different than I am.  When I was a teenager, I wished that I looked like one of the popular girls in our high school.  When I was in law school, I wished that I was smart enough and ambitious enough to be chosen someday to be on the Supreme Court.  Then, as I got older and my body started aging, I wished that I could look young again.  None of that wishing was good for my self-esteem.

Now that I am older, I appreciate how God has made me.  I can see that He has made me in a certain way for certain reasons.  I no longer question His handiwork.  I just try my best to use the gifts and talents that I’ve been given to serve Him.

Set Reasonable Standards for Yourself and Then Meet Those Standards

Part of why our self-esteem sometimes takes a nose-dive is that we feel that we didn’t meet our own standards. We set a goal which we didn’t achieve, and instead of giving ourselves a pat on the back for trying, we feel badly about ourselves for having failed.

For me, this happens every Lent.  During Lent, I typically make an unrealistic commitment to give up something that I can’t possibly give up.  Then I inevitably fail and beat myself up for not succeeding.  For instance, this past year I decided to give up rice, pasta and bread.  That lasted for about two weeks.  It was completely unrealistic to think that I could survive without some type of carbohydrates.  As my husband was quick to point out, giving up one of those items would have been fine.  Trying to give up all three was silly.

Holding yourself to high standards is a good thing! When we hold ourselves to high standards, we naturally perform better in all areas of our lives.  But holding ourselves to impossible standards of either beauty or accomplishment is a recipe for destroying our self-esteem.

Run Your Own Race

Comparing ourselves to others is another way in which we undermine our self-esteem. You are never going to be the smartest, most beautiful or richest person in the world.  So instead of comparing yourself with others, run your own race.

God has blessed you with a unique set of qualities so that you can fulfill His purpose for you on this earth. He is having you run a race that only you can complete.  So, when it comes to fulfilling God’s purpose for your life, you have no competition.

Once I truly understood that God had created me to run my own, very unique race, my self-esteem skyrocketed. It was a relief to stop feeling like I was in competition with the rest of the world.  Now I no longer feel envious about the gifts and talents of others.  I know that God has equipped me with the talents that I need to run My Race.

If your self-esteem is low, consider incorporating some of the above suggestions in your life. Remember that you have been made perfectly by God to fulfill His purpose for your life.  You don’t lack anything.  Feel good about yourself!  You are perfect, as is.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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We each have been created uniquely by God. God has given each of us particular set of gifts and talents with which we are to serve the world.  That seems obvious, right?  Yet, when we serve others, we often do so in the way that the world expects us to serve, rather than by using our God-given gifts and talents.

For instance, the world tells us that “good” mothers do certain things. They bake cookies.  They sew Halloween costumes.  And they join the PTA.  But what if you are a mother, and none of that is your cup of tea?  What if God simply didn’t give you those skills?

We need to forget what the world expects, and instead serve others by giving them our best.  So, as mothers, we need to parent our children in a way that comes naturally to us.  If we try to parent like everyone else, we’ll be frustrated.

For instance, I’m not much of a baker. I can make a decent pie crust, and I can bake passable chocolate chip cookies and brownies.  But I don’t enjoy doing so.  Baking, for me, is a chore.  So, I rarely bake, even though that is a quintessential “mom” activity.

Instead, I mother by sharing with my daughter what I love – books. When she was small, I read to her all the time.  I loved the picture books as much as she did!  And I became an expert in what was the best in children’s literature.  As she has gotten older, we’ve spent much of our mother-daughter time going to libraries and bookstores.  Over the years, I’ve tried to offer my daughter my best.

The same concept holds true in marriage. In the ideal marriage, spouses complement each other.  One spouse may be more organized, while the other is more creative.  One may be great at housekeeping, while the other is good at cooking.  And if each person serves the marriage by doing what they are naturally good at, the marriage becomes a highly effective partnership.  It becomes a union in which the two joined together are far superior to when they were separate.

But so often, we try to offer our spouse what we think we should be offering. For example, there are very few marriages in which the husband stays home and raises the kids, while the wife is the breadwinner.  However, there probably are many marriages in which the husband is more nurturing and the wife is more career-oriented.  However, they both spouses feel obliged to serve the marriage in ways that don’t come naturally to them.

The key to success in every relationship is to offer our best to the other person. And the other key is to accept the other person’s best.  Don’t harp on what the other person lacks!  Instead, accept and appreciate what that person has to offer you.

For example, you may wish that your spouse was more romantic. However, romantic words and gestures may not come naturally to him or her.  Appreciate the natural qualities that your spouse does possess.  Your spouse may not be romantic, but he or she may be very kind and gentle.  Or your spouse may be financially responsible and organized.  Instead of lamenting over the qualities that your spouse does not possess, praise the qualities that he or she does possess!

None of us comes to the table with the same gifts and attributes. Learning to appreciate what is good about others, and refusing to focus on where others are lacking, is the way to build positive relationships.

This week, try to give others your best. And appreciate when others give you theirs!  Remember that God made each of us uniquely for a reason.  Don’t second guess God.  Instead, give the world what He has created you to offer.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)