The Fourth of July and Canada Day also allow us the chance to pause, to look back at the journey we have taken and feel some satisfaction in our accomplishments. This sense of pride can encompass all aspects of our life, not just our citizenship. Proud kids, kids with a strong sense of self, are the ones likely to make it through the turbulent years of peer pressure, pre-teen and teen angst unscathed. This sense of self doesn't come from being pretty or handsome, popular or athletic. It comes from deep inside. It is a value developed through relationships in the home, a value that we need to promote early on.
Confidence is instilled when a child knows that his parents are present. When he's confident that they will offer him unconditional support and a constant ear and shoulder to lean on. It is developed through encouraging your kids to pursue what they love even if they are terrible at it.
When I was a child, a swimming instructor told my mother that I would never pass my "Advanced Swimmers" badge given my performance to date, my size, and the inclement weather that day. My mother said, "We'll see." She stood on that beach, in the wind, and the rain, watching and cheering me on. I was the last kid in the water and I swam until I thought I might throw up. She knew I could pass that badge though, and as a result I knew I could pass -- and I did. The year my sister decided she was going to become a dancer, my parents bought tickets to a modern dance performance. After the show, we cleared our living room floor of furniture so that she could tumble and roll, just like the performers on stage. Meanwhile, my mom, dad and I boogied on the side.
We were each other's greatest cheerleaders, and anything was possible if we believed in ourselves. This was, and still is, my family at its best.
As a result, I was a confident kid. I was awkward and admittedly geeky, but my strong identity couldn't be rattled. When offered cigarettes, I declined politely. When I felt that an injustice had occurred, I stood up and fought for what I believed in. Drugs were all around me and I never dabbled. Even alcohol, was something I sometimes sipped, but I never got carried away. Like all kids, I rebelled, I misbehaved, and I fought the system, but I never did anything that might truly harm ME. I didn't just respect myself, but I also respected the body that I came in.
It's impossible to pinpoint exact moments that shape a childï¿½s identity; however, engaging conversations and family fun, no matter how small or large your unit, shape who we become. Whether you celebrate Canada Day or July Fourth, take advantage of this special summer time with your family. Create traditions that will imprint on your kids' memories. Make celebrating your national holidays also about celebrating your own family history and family pride. You might want to go to your town's parade and, with your kids, cheer on that little girl twirling a baton or that young man marching with his Boy Scout troop. Today they are queen and king, and we are their loyal servants. Hopefully their families will be in the crowd, cheering them on as mine did for me, as you will do for your kids, and as they will do for their own. For now though, let's get them cheering for themselves.
Happy Canada Day! Happy Fourth of July!