Sis Dolly blogs: Building confidence in our children

By Drum Digital
20 December 2012

From 25 November to 10 December we observe 16 Days of Activism against abuse of women and children. Looking at the instances of abuse within our society we’re all aware that this number is too high. The factors contributing to these statistics are multifold and linked to social and economic issues.

During this period, I think of our children and particularly our girls, as women are by and large the victims and survivors of the scourge of violence.

If we go back to the beginning in terms of who we are as people, I think of a conversation I had with a mother who said her daughter was too confident. My response was that it’s easier to work with an over confidence than a lack of self confidence.

I raise this in the context of abuse, as I think there’s an element of self confidence required for us to stand up for the end of gender based violence.

My wish is that we raise children to be confident, and that their confidence be based on knowing their basic human rights and that they shouldn’t settle for mediocrity within their personal aspirations and in relationships of abuse.

Being confident means you know your worth. Being confident, means you won’t accept being treated with anything but respect. I know this is a constant refrain of mine as I spoke about being a “10” in my last blog.  I look at young people and my wish for them is to have the confidence and clarity of their convictions that won’t allow them to be quiet if they’re being treated anything other than fairly. The confidence to stand up, and speak out against bullying, and any other form of physical or emotional abuse. Violence is perpetuated because we stay silent.

That silence often comes from our sense that we need to tell our children not to speak their minds, not to voice their opinions, not to ask the questions that give them clarity and understanding.

Yes, I agree that it can be annoying to answer constant questions and challenges from teenagers. I have a 15- and a 12-year-old. They will challenge you and you sometimes want to say “because I say so”.

And sometimes you need to be firm as a parent and say that. But most of the time, we need to be answering the difficult questions our children ask with honesty and clarity.

If we, as parents are not clear, we leave an uncertainty within our children. We erode their confidence because they cannot see what is right and wrong because we have not lived that honesty and integrity.

So very simply I’m saying, let us build our children to be overly confident. Let them believe the sky is the limit. Let them believe they can conquer the world and have the right to challenge some of the structures we have put in place. Let us not dampen their spirits by telling them to be quiet all the time.

Yes, there is a time and a place for them to simply be still and listen and hear the wisdom. And there is a place where we as adults can learn from their curiosity and gain wisdom and insight into a future world.  I am not prepared to answer the questions “where were you? Or why didn’t you do something? Or why didn’t you tell me?”

Let us build a confident and aware younger generation who will stand for what is right and who will speak up when they are violated and when they’re treated unfairly. It all starts with answering the simple questions and empowering our youth to have a voice that says ‘no’ and knows when to say ‘yes’.

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