I am not even sure they realized they were doing it at the time, but growing up my parents gave me the best gift ever. They were usually quite thoughtful at gift giving (apart from that one Christmas when I didn’t get the “My Size Barbie” I had been dreaming of. There still may be a small sliver of resentment buried about that one… I will get over it. Eventually.) But! This present they gave me was not physical, or given on a special occasion. It was the gift of confidence they gave to me on a daily basis.
They both spoke confidence into my life by their words of affirmation. Always telling me I was special, beautiful and great. This seems so simple, but it is heartbreaking the amount of women (and men) I know who are lacking this foundation. My parent’s opinion of me is so biased, that I know they are exactly the wrong people to ask if I look okay before going out (I have learned that if I want an honest opinion my little brother is the best bet. He’s direct.). I know my parents adore me unconditionally, and look at me through loving lenses, but sometimes I am just having a terrible hair day, or that skirt actually does not flatter my figure. They don’t care about that. They see a beauty deeper in me, and even though sometimes I feel like their compliments are predictable or a white lie, I still believe them.
When my little brother wanted to build an airplane my dad went out and bought him the supplies and stood by his side while he built it. When I wanted to buy my own horse, my mom spent hours online searching for the perfect fit (in the ancient days of dial-up). Somehow the idea of letting her 11-year-old daughter save up babysitting money and buy a 1-year-old horse did not sound as crazy to her as it does to me now as I look back. She stood by my side for the next few years as I trained him. She will tell you that I broke him all by myself, but I know better than that, now.
My parents never told me that my ideas were crazy or far-fetched. I don’t think there has ever been a plan or dream that they told me was impossible or too dangerous. Many people can easily say, “Nothing is impossible!” But my parents gave me the confidence and tools to actually realize this. They went beyond words, and used their actions and support to build a foundation of confidence in my life.
I once heard a quote about how the words that parents speak to their young children become the tone of their conscious and self-confidence later in life. I am so thankful that in a world of doubt and insecurity, I have an inner voice of poise and strength. It is a gift I use everyday, thanks Mom & Dad.