“When I grow up, can I have the same shoes?” – my daughter said to me recently. She has been saying this line a lot these days, asking if she can have the same bag, shoes, or shirt. This made me realize that apart from copying my questionable fashion choices, there’s a good chance that how I behave, my outlook in life, and how I act, are her first lessons in how to take on and handle the world. Truly, kids are the greatest copycats, and it is our role as parents to maximize this fact and be a great role model for them.
I started this article with the intention of writing about inspiring Filipinas who will make great role models for my daughter in the spirit of Women’s month. And while we certainly have no shortage of inspiring Filipinas, I decided that the best woman role model for her is someone close to her, someone she could so easily copy – me, her mom. And yes, she can easily choose her own role model as she grows up, but now that she’s 4, I’ll try my best to be a good example for her. And to do that, here’s how:
- Take care of myself. Mom’s schedules can get so easily jampacked that we tend to let go of ourselves. The activities I used to enjoy such as reading, traveling, and even yoga was forgotten in exchange for more family-friendly activities and even childcare. But we should also remember that we can better take care of our loved ones after we properly take care of ourselves as well. Making time for the activities we enjoy can make us a happier mom, and a happier mom is infinitely better than a cranky mom. At the same time, doing so will show my daughter how important taking care and loving her own self is.
- It’s ok to not be a Wonderwoman. Although we are proud to say that we are a Wonderwomom who can do everything, let’s admit it, we can never do everything without either going crazy or getting burned out. And going cray cray over our responsibilities is not a good thing for our child to witness. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, even from your little girl. Aside from getting much-needed assistance, doing so shows her that it’s okay to ask for help and that she should never be afraid to ask for what she needs and wants.
- It’s ok to be bad – sometimes. A lot of us were raised with the thinking that we have to be good and to avoid any conflict at any cost. The bad thing about this, however, is that our kids would not learn how to express their frustrations, disappointment, anger, and even embarrassment constructively. This could then lead to toxic behavior such as gossiping or social media bullying. Conflicts in our home, at school/work, and in our personal lives will happen no matter what, so it’s important to teach our child to face and deal with these head on – positively if possible. Try to handle conflicts in your home as calmly as possible to set a good example. At the same time, you can also share some of your negative feelings with your child so that she’ll understand that being pleasing and happy all the time is not and will never be a requirement.
- Model Cinderella – have courage and be kind. Cinderella provided us with the most basic and yet befitting mantra for every woman. By living with this in mind, we can model to our daughters how to treat and talk to her friends and peers with respect. It shows them that bullying and shaming are unacceptable. At the same time, being kind does not only apply to how they interact with others but also with how they treat themselves. We should show our kids the importance of loving themselves. At the same time, having courage gives them the freedom to not limit themselves and aspire to be anything they want.
- Limit my own screen time. If I plan to be a role-model for my daughter, then I need to work on putting my phone down, especially when we are having a conversation. Nothing can still take the place of real-life interactions and my daughter needs to see the importance of that — that real life should always take precedence over online life. At the same time, our kiddos should also learn that kindness and proper manners still apply online. That comments and posts can still hurt even when not done face-to-face.
- Let go of the Mom guilt. One of my wishes for my daughter is for her to find her own path that will bring her happiness and fulfillment. And one way of helping her start on this path is by sharing and talking to her about the things I love about my life right now and current successes. Doing so might also help cope with any misgivings or guilt. Plus, it shows her that girls have choices. That she can have a successful career, a happy family, and basically anything else that she sets her mind to.
*Originally published in momcenter.com.ph