When my daughter was a year old, I remember observing that most of her behavior involved imitating the adults around her. For example she loved pretending she was talking on a cell phone. Soon after, I decided that I'd alter my parenting strategy to focus 20% of my energy on things like her healthcare and schooling and 80% of my energy on simply trying to be the kind of person I'd want her to grow up to be. She's in the second grade now and somewhere along the way I'd lost track of this 20/80 parenting strategy.
This week we participated in the last session of a Girls Leadership program at her school. I enrolled us in an effort to build her confidence, but it girded mine, too. At one point she expressed surprise that I had felt sadness over having been left out of a friendship group. "Whenever I feel left out I cry, but I've never seen you cry, Mommy. Ever." I was blown away because I realized that she was right. I'm often asked what we can do to help our girls grow into strong and vibrant women. The answer is for us to be strong and vibrant, which means expressing our full humanity and crying sometimes, too. After all, our girls are watching.