Parenting is filled with taking advantage of “teachable moments.” But then there are those lessons that I want Stella (age 9) to learn that I have to slide into every day conversations.
One lesson I feel is important for her to learn – and to start learning now – is to not let her voice be silenced. I am guilty of letting this happen in my life – more so as an adult than as a teen. So, I took some time to really reflect on why that is and then broke it into three different ideas.
Learn Your Voice, Express Your Voice
I chose “express” instead of “raise” because I think we all demonstrate our “voice” in different ways – not just by speaking out loud. It could be through speaking or music or writing or art or acts of kindness or service or ……. But it is expressing who you are in a way that you feel comfortable and lets people know what matters most to you. At age 9, she is discovering a whole new world of new issues and new talents. It is exciting to watch her process it all.
I think our voices are silenced when we don’t know exactly what our voice is OR we have a fear that what we have to say is going to be rejected or that we will face FAILURE. What I want to do for my daughter is create a safe place where she feels comfortable in finding her voice and expressing it. But, I also have to teach her the reality of rejection and failure so that she welcomes it instead of hiding from it. My responsibility is to let her know that when it does come about that I love and support her through it. It happens. It’s not the end of the world. We learn. We move on.
It is also important in not letting your voice be silenced to be comfortable in asking questions. There are two reasons a person might not be comfortable with this – the fear of sounding stupid or the fear of being aggressive. But asking questions helps us learn and develop who we are. Asking questions helps us find out what is important to us and what is happening in our world that might be wrong or needs improvement.
I sometimes have to take a scientific approach to this and let Stella know that asking questions in following the Scientific Method. Every good scientist has to be inquisitive so new information is discovered. You can’t let fear prohibit you from asking questions. It can silence your future voice because you never discovered anything more than what you currently know.
To be Heard, you Have to Listen
This third concept is so incredibly important. You might know what your voice is. You might know how to express it. You might have no fear to let everyone around you hear you. But if you are not willing to listen to others, they will not be willing to listen to you.
I imagine this is a skill that I will need to work through the most over the years. There are so many distractions that keep us, even sitting at home, from really listening to each other. But being aware of it is the first step.
It’s these three lessons that I can start setting the example of right now. I want my nine year old to grow up feeling empowered, being respectful, and making a positive impact on her world. I want her to feel confident in letting that unique voice she has be heard.
This is a rambling that comes from this mom’s heart. If you feel it has value, please share. We have a generation of young girls growing up that need to know their voice is powerful. And I believe we can start here.