I am not the perfect parent.
I forget things. I miss countless school activities thanks to a full-time school and work schedule and simply because I am a single mommy and have my hands full with normal day duties. I don’t play as often as I would like, and our lifestyle requires my daughter to be more self-sufficient than the average 8-year-old.
But one thing that I get right, and one thing that has empowered my relationship with my daughter is how we spend our morning commute to school.
Every morning I spend part of our 25-minute drive telling my daughter what qualities I love most about her and why. Then I follow up with opportunities I hope she has that day to showcase those amazing qualities.
It’s ridiculously simple, actually. But seeing her self-respect and self-confidence grow since we began has been one of my most proud parenting wins. When all too often I feel as though there aren’t enough.
An example of today’s confidence conversation:
Me: “You are such a hard worker! You have bounced back into a school schedule and your riding lessons with such energy. You got home late from a two-week trip Monday night, had school Tuesday and yesterday you spent hours at the barn. THEN you came with me to the market to spend playtime with friends and a late dinner. Even though we went to bed a little later than we normally do, you woke up today smiling and energetic and ready to go to school. I am so impressed by that in you.”
Me: “Do you know what I also love about you? That you are such a kind and compassionate friend. Your teacher told me that you befriended the new student in your class that doesn’t speak English as well as the other students. That was a wonderful act of kindness and I am sure that made his first day at school so much better than he had expected.”
Me: “I hope that today you have opportunities to show others how to energetically tackle their days with a positive spirit. Your energy is catching and I know that other kids will be happier and more willing to work when they see how much fun you have doing it. I also hope that today you can find ways to be a kind friend and to show others that being kind to others is one of the most wonderful things we can do.”
My daughter: “Can you turn the radio on now, please?”
Ok. So the dialogue is mostly one sided.
However, her face and demeanor have changed. She is glowing and perhaps even a little embarrassed. But. Every day, she says a little more and is a little less embarrassed. That is the ultimate goal for me as her mommy. I want her to feel comfortable and confident accepting compliments and observations about her personal qualities. And feel comfortable complimenting others about theirs.