I was doing my second talk on “Living your Life & Brand Strategy” a few months back when someone in the audience said my personal story would be valuable to the Rallim school Moms. I met with Colleen, the founder of Rallim, and she encouraged me to share my personal story with the Mom’s at her school.
Why did I speak on “Raising Confident Kids”?
Parenting is already a shame and judgment minefield precisely because most of us are wading through uncertainty and self-doubt when it comes to living our best lives, let alone raising our children well.
Disclaimer: I am NOT an expert
I am no expert, far from it. I have not studied child psychology, early childhood development, or education. I haven’t even read the manual – we were all given one, right? Hmmm…..
I am a normal human with my own past, flaws, insecurities, fears, frustrations, personal goals and a DEEP love for my children. I want to get it so right, I want to give them what they deserve, I want them to be HAPPY, CONFIDENT AND KIND. In short, I want the absolute best for them as who they are.
My Own Shame & Anxiety in Motherhood
But what I felt when I became a mother, besides the innate unconditional love I had for them, was FEAR, ANXIETY and SHAME. I felt like I didn’t have the tools or skills to do this and, not only that, but that I wasn’t even worthy of this role.
How I Coped?
I joined the tribes, I found my hood, I wore my badge and shouted my righteous answers from the rooftops. And I felt DEEPLY ANXIOUS.
How did I handle that anxiety?
I sought approval by the others in my tribe, I hid my fears with a Mom mask made from MAC makeup and filters, and I drank wine, every darn night.
I could’ve kept doing this forever, accept my body physically said NO.
As you can predict, I hit rock bottom. For me, this was being hospitalised for countless health tests after 24 rounds of antibiotics in the last 3 years. I was on boatloads of daily chronic medication yet I still got lung infections and illnesses constantly. After the health tests said I was fine and the doctor prescribed more medicine, I said ENOUGH.
A Day to Remember – February 22, 2019
One week after my first talk on “Live your Life & Brand Strategy,” I hit rock bottom. I saw the truth in the face of success – being invited to talk on living your best life was my dream come true, the only problem being that I was far from living my best life. At best, I was living a lie. The confidence I
portrayed on the surface was only a mere cover for what laid deeply beneath – anxiety and shame covered with a fake confidence and poor coping.
WHY was I so shamed and feeling unworthy?
Rock bottom allowed me to get honest with myself – I was far from living my best life and I was far from feeling WHOLE. I was BROKEN, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Realising I was coping by drinking a bottle of wine most nights, I quit alcohol immediately, went off social media for 2 months, saw a psychiatrist to wean off the antidepressant’s id been on for 2 years, and began digging deep into the uncomfortable feelings that came up for me.
It didn’t take long to realise the shame and anxiety I chronically felt consumed with was rooted in childhood. So, let me tell you about my life. The book is coming out next year, but in short this is the timeline of my childhood:
· Born 1984, 1st of 5 children to poor, uneducated parents. Dad in military, Mom unemployed.
· Germany for 1 year, then back to Grandma.
· Tacoma while Dad in Desert Storm, Saudia Arabia.
· Dad back, family splits.
· El Paso TX – a new stepmom, stepbrother & half-brother.
· Batonrouge, LA. – Resentful abusive stepmother, Dad drunk or always gone.
· Foster Home – No one can take us, so Dad drops us off.
· Adopted – me age 10 and sister age 8. A new home, new life, new rules, no looking back.
· A different kind of dysfunction – Parents in a bitter and unhappy marriage
· Narcissism & Co-dependency – Punitive parenting and my need to please.
· Anorexia – The world spins, I reach for stability in perfection – there is no “too thin” or “too good of grades”. 4.4 GPA & 98 pounds.
· “Attention Seeking” – my well-meaning and helpless adopted parents see the disorder as “attention seeking,” furthering my shame and deepening the need to numb/seek approval.
· Finding my voice & independence in adulthood – University, Entrepreneurship, Marriage, Motherhood.
· Healing – Finally becoming a Mom myself led me to do the healing necessary to become WHOLE. Everything I suppressed and “moved on from” came up and the time for healing could no longer be avoided as I needed to show up well for my kids.
WHAT I have learned about Raising Confident Kids?
Healing – “If you process your pain you can change the world”. In my healing I learned that I had a CHOICE in how I respond to trauma, I was choosing numbing and it was hurting me in the long run. I opted instead to choose for honesty, reflection, forgiveness and becoming WHOLE so I could raise whole healthy confident kids too.
NOT about Education or Money – It is about WHOLEHEARTED PARENTING. As a mother myself and someone who had the first half of my childhood in a poor, uneducated environment, and the second half in a wealthy, educated home, I know first-hand that money and knowledge doesn’t make the difference in raising confident and stable kids. LOVING them from a WHOLE place is what determines their stability, confidence and mental wellbeing.
SENSE OF SELF – I firmly believe that who we are as our own selves and how we engage with our families and communities are much stronger predictors of how our kids will do than what we know about parenting.
Trying to know FOR SURE “how to parent” breeds judgement.
Case in point:
· what to eat in pregnancy?
· how to give birth
· staying home or returning to work
· what educational model is best for our kid?
· what are appropriate discipline approaches
All of the above examples will have an absolute answer for “how to parent RIGHT” and it will thus single people out, create tribes, establish disconnection in communities, and make people feel criticised and SHAMED.
And guess what happens when Moms who are trying their best to raise happy, healthy kids feel shamed? They cope without communicating, which means they parent from a wounded place of pain.
My Tips for Raising Confident Kids
1. Process your PAIN. Raise whole humans from a place of being whole within yourself.
2. Allow yourself to FEEL feelings – this gives your kids permission to do the same.
3. LOVE yourself. Your kids model self-love by your example.
4. Say you’re sorry. Teach your kids humility. We are human and will make mistakes, so will your kids. Teach them grace, humility and forgiveness by your example.
5. Praise EFFORT and progress. Encourage them to seek what they enjoy and to harness their own identities. Help them become themselves, everyone else is taken.
6. BOUNDARIES are OK and are healthy. Have yours and respect theirs too. Validate their wishes and feelings.
7. Give CHOICES. After having feelings, what are our choices? This empowers them.
Where am I now?
1. Learning to live with anxiety and coping in healthy ways.
2. Processing my feelings, becoming WHOLE (for this means healed, naturally joyful, connected, loved, worthy)
3. Wholehearted Parenting, raising them with love and my example
4. Book is out next year, been very healing.
Thank you to Rallim Prepatory for hosting me and allowing me the platform to share my story and potentially inspire others to do the same.
How You Can Help
All proceeds from my talk on Raising Confident kids went to iThemba. iThemba means ‘hope’. Their vision is for children from under-resourced communities in the Southern Peninsula of Cape Town to be provided with the best possible intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual foundation for further education – giving them hope for their future.