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 After receiving a hate-filled message from an older man, who really should know better, I decided to address how, we as parents, can teach our children to confidently be different.

The gentleman (and I use this term extremely loosely, as there was nothing “gentlemanly” about this man), took issue with the haircut (pictured) that I gave my 3 year old daughter. He attempted to enforce antiquated gender norms, by calling the haircut “hideous” and hoped that his, rather vanilla, daughter would stay within socially constructed norms with her child.

Now, there are a plethora of issues surrounding this man’s obvious insecurities and need to “police” others.  But honestly, I am not interested in that man or his daughter who would rather respond with the “boys will be boys” narrative, than address the serious issues that surround toxic masculinity and bullying.

But what I will address is how, as parents, we can raise children that are confident and who can ignore the haters (who are more comfortable bathing in their vitriol).

Hopefully, by raising confident people, we can change this world for the better and move away from ignorance.

1: Love Yourself and You’ll be Able to Show Love to Your Child

If you can’t love yourself, then it’ll be a challenge to love someone else, including your child.  Understand that everyone has flaws and imperfections.  We’re all dealing with a set of challenges and everyone questions themselves or how they look. But practicing self-love is the best way you can show love to your children, and how you can help them love themselves

How do I practice self-love you might ask?  Well, you do this by speaking about yourself in a positive light.  Find all those wonderful things about yourself.  Hold on to those things, and you’ll have no space for negativity and only space to share happiness and love with your child, and other people.

2: Refrain from Being a Helicopter Parent

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  When I first read these words by Elizabeth Stone, I didn’t think too much about it.  It was only until I had V, that I understood.

Now, it hardly is confidence-building if you never let them fail and figure things out by themselves.  If you are always there to be their safety net, then they won’t understand, the confidence boost that comes from falling, getting back up, and continuing to work hard until you’re able to achieve your goals.

3: Encourage Them to go for What They Want and be Who They Want to be

I try, whenever possible to encourage V to do the things that she likes to do and be the person that she wants to be.  For example, she wants to kick a football (soccer ball) around and learn how to play.  We try and encourage that by having play matches.  Vin’s very good about kicking it back and forth with her and teaching her how to do it.

Or our response to her talking to herself while looking in the mirror.  She was saying to herself that she was not a girl, but a boy now. I asked her what her new boy name was, and she said that it was “Gaby.”  Vin and I didn’t bat an eyelash, because it would be doing our daughter a great disservice if we: 1) attempted to dissuade her being who she feels she is; and 2) used language that propped up toxic masculinity and its normative gender roles.

So how do you build confidence in your children, and allow them to be who they want to be?

Happy confidence building!

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