Conversations with Ellie

As a parent I feel like a fish out of water most days. Anyone?

It’s been a lot of trial and error—aiming for a target, blindfolded, and hoping to hit the mark, or even get close to it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and done some things well.

What I know for sure is building my daughter’s confidence and self-esteem has been one of the areas I’ve poured a lot of energy and focus into over the years and, in recent moments, I think it’s paying off.

As a kid, I can vividly remember the moments when my self-esteem took a major nose dive, whether it was struggling with reading or not being able to pay attention in school, to feeling like the attention I desired at home was too much for my parents to handle or being criticized for my artistic expression.

Such is life, I know, but these moments all happened at such an impressionable age that I’ve felt their impact way into adulthood. Knowing what I know now, I realize it’s possible to approach certain situations differently and make choices accordingly, which is why I care so deeply to impart this wisdom to my daughter to help her protect her self-esteem and build her confidence.

Today I want to share an important lesson I’ve shared with Ellie that I think has been helpful in building her self-esteem and confidence. My hope is to share what’s working for us, and then I’d love to hear back from you on what’s working for you, because as they say, “It takes a village.”

As humans, we often put expectations on ourselves and on others based on our own personal experiences. Without even realizing it, we can project our expectations of how we think life should be onto others, which often leaves us frustrated and stressed out when things don’t go as we assumed they would.

When I break this human tendency down for Ellie, I tell her if someone lashes out at her or says something she finds hurtful, it means what they said or how they reacted is a reflection of the person who said it, not a reflection on her. She can choose to take on someone’s junk or she can leave it where it belongs.

We talk a lot about how “hurting people hurt people” (or, put another way, how people who are hurting can end up hurting people).

I’m also clear with her that she cannot be a victim, always blaming everyone else for her problems and not taking responsibility for her role in the situation.

While growing up, if I blamed anyone else for any problem in the world I got a V (for Victim) sign thrown up at me by my parents, and in many ways I think that philosophy served me well in life.

Yet I also wish I could have distinguished that the hurtful words or anger didn’t always mean something negative about me as a person.

As a kid I just expected adults to be mature and act like adults. I figured they were older and they knew better, so they were right. I received a lot of the projections and expectations thrown onto me from adults and took them as gospel.

It impacted the choices I made and didn’t make. Now I see that the opinions, hurtful words, and anger were all based on that particular person’s expectations.

I encourage Ellie to own her part of the situation (which is still a work in progress) and to not take on what doesn’t belong to her. I reminder her she is a child of God, holy and dearly loved, and that’s who God says she is.

If someone else tries to tell her who she is or put limits on what she’s capable of, then she has the choice to receive that information as her identity, or she can, as my Aunt Betty often says, “Put ‘em in the wind.” I encourage her to listen to that still, strong voice inside of her to remind her who she is.

Bottom line: She is in control of what sticks.

Ellie is a sensitive soul like myself, which I think is even more reason to have these conversations often. It’s been so encouraging to watch her confidence rise through her challenges with dyslexia and through life’s ups and downs.

As a mama I think it’s important to acknowledge when we’re doing something well, because Lord knows we’re constantly reminding ourselves of what all we’re not doing well. It’s OK to give ourselves a pat on the back.

Speaking of, I want to hear what’s working well for you in building your child’s confidence and self-esteem.

Thanks so much for sharing! So grateful for YOU! Love and Blessings.

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