Tips For Empowering Your Kids
How old were you when you realized you were a valuable human being? How old were you when you became PSYCHED about that? And how many of you are still waiting for that day? Why do we even need a guide like Owning Pink? If we were all Owning Pink all the time already, there would be no need. On one hand, it’s wonderful to have this site and build this community where we can all meet on the same page (literally). On the other, wouldn’t it be nice if we were running on pure mojo all the time? What would it have taken – from your parents, teachers, community – to have that feeling during the years that your brain and body were developing and coming to understand the kind of woman you’d one day be?
I have a friend who is the epitome of authenticity and mojo. She grew up in a Puerto Rican family who arrived in the United States penniless when she was very young. Her resourceful parents brought the family up the social ladder by working hard and seizing opportunities as they arose. So she had this miracle story as an inspirational backsplash (though at the time she probably didn’t realize it was a miracle – at her age, it was simply the way things were). Beyond this, her parents were constantly telling her and her sisters that they were beautiful, brilliant, and capable of absolutely anything. This was what she took to heart. Now at 39, she is a joyous, exuberant woman, financially prosperous, well traveled, deeply wise, and in every moment follows her heart. If a job or endeavor one day ceases to excite or have meaning for her, she moves on. If a relationship is no longer working, she removes herself from it with love and appreciation for the lessons that partner taught her. She is open and spiritual, constantly seeking ways to expand her mind in new directions, and connect with more people and the universe. She thrives. She is childlike. She is pink. She is mojo. Because in her youth all of this was reinforced. But more than that – she SAW her beautiful, successful mother making her way in the world against all odds.
Tips To Help Your Kids Be Authentic and Keep Their Mojo
So what can we do to expose our little ones to the certainty of pinkness – a chance to know it and own it – before they even realize that there is an alternative? Of course, offer your children a home filled with safety and love- these are the Pink foundation. But how can you take it to the next level? Here are a few Pink tips to help the little Pinkettes in your life own it early.
- You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful – it’s true. Cheesy James Blunt song, truest statement you can deliver to your gorgeous little person. But not just, “you have great hair,” or “you look nice in your flowery skirt.” Oh no – we’re not talking gorgeous features, we’re talking inside-out stunning. You’re beautiful because of who you are. You’re beautiful when you cry. You’re beautiful when you first wake up. You have a kind, beautiful spirit. That was a beautiful thing you did. Beautiful, beautiful. Yes, her head will get big. Yes, she’ll think she’s awesome. Yes, she’ll want to shine. And how is this bad? When did we get the idea that we need to veil ourselves so our shininess doesn’t show?
- Of course, at the same time, you’ll be demonstrating and teaching kindness. You’ll point out what is ugly in the world – cruelty, greed, abuse of power – and how ugly it is to reflect those qualities. Your little person will not use her beauty and her power for wrong if she is being taught against an ever-present backdrop of what it is to be beautiful on the inside.
- Yes you can, kiddo. Within age-appropriate boundaries, why not encourage everything that strikes her fancy? Creatively, spiritually, and in every other way. Ask questions … how far does she think the universe goes? What are her two favorite colors to put together? How fun would it be to hop from stone to stone from this side of the stream across to the other? If she limits herself, says “I can’t,” ask why not? It’s impossible to know where she might pick up unfounded reasons to be afraid. Delve deep, expand boundaries, and don’t let a silly thing like fear get in the way.
- Encourage, accept, and honor failure. We don’t know what we’re capable of until we try it. We don’t know how something is going to look until we see ourselves in that picture. With this experimentation comes a loooooot of mistakes. And isn’t that cool? So she tries gymnastics and decides it’s not for her. And lo, a preference is born. You encourage her to hang in there for a few more weeks, take note of how she can do a backward somersault without help this week, and what an improvement that is. And lo again, she discovers that she is capable of improving. She may still hate gymnastics, and that’s to be honored. Okay, it’s not for you, but see what you did? What you can do next time, with the next thing? If ruling something out is the worst that can happen, then what on earth is the point of being afraid to try it?
- Answer questions honestly. Children are most in touch with universe/spirit/instinct/truth when they are young. If you’re making up a story to placate her, some part of her knows that. Even if it’s going to open a whole can of worms you were hoping to avoid for a few more years, and even if it’s going to burst a previously held illusion, let your Pink babe know what’s up. This way, at the very least, what she knows in her gut synchs up with what you’re telling her, and she’s learning to trust not only you, but herself.
- On the flipside, encourage imagination. Don’t put limits on what she’s thinking based on What The World Deems Possible. Someday she wants a purple pony? Why the heck not? Maybe it’s not something you can provide, because honestly you don’t know where to find a purple pony, nor do you have the space for one in your fourth-floor walkup in the city, but that doesn’t mean she won’t have one one day. Maybe she’ll get a motorcycle that she calls the Purple Pony. Maybe it’s the name of her publishing company. It’s so important, though, that we hold our most fantastical notions in our hearts and not let anyone tell us such things aren’t possible. Who knows what seeds of inspiration are sowing themselves in her young soul? What’s the harm of encouraging her belief and her creativity?
- Lead by example. It’s well and good to hear mom tell you that you are gorgeous and can do anything, but seeing her sitting under a beach umbrella shrouded in a mumu and huge hat because she didn’t shed those last five pounds in time for summer while you splash in the ocean sends a, well, interesting message. Speaking of …
- Again: You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. Your body is beautiful. And anyway, it’s not how you look, it’s how you feel. We know this, right, Pinkies? You know what it is to feel healthy and alive. If you pay attention, you’ll begin to notice the correlation between certain foods, activities, and energy levels. Once you know that for yourself, it’s easy to pass on to your daughter, and get her on board with a lifestyle that promotes feeling her best. And if feeling your best on a given day means sitting down to a nice big brownie sundae or kicking back in front of a chick flick, then by all means. Own that Pink feeling.
- And Own that Pink body! Dance in the living room. Go for a walk in the woods, explore, breathe deep, use all your senses. Do yoga – learn to connect body, breath and spirit. Hug, cuddle, connect – there are such amazing benefits to human contact, not the least of which is opening spiritual channels for soul-to-soul connection. The more we connect, the more we trust, the more we grow. The more we let in, the more we understand what is possible, and what support and safety there is around us. It helps us to be fearless in yet another way.
- Tell the stories behind the Authentic legends. Though it’s changing slowly, what most kids learn in school are still Just The Facts … the names, the dates, the events, but not the faces. You don’t have to dig too deeply to find the powerful women in every event in history – both ancient and current. Point out every instance you come across where Owning Pink has made something possible for an individual woman or for the world. (And of course be careful about what the little ones see on the media – there are still SO many portrayals of women who are NOT Owning Pink in body, mind, spirit, or any other way. It’s not rocket science to know which of these aren’t so Pink.)
If you didn't score over 30 on the Owning Pink Quiz, you still know how these women show up: they think they’re the most beautiful things in the world (and they’re right). They’re curious and alive. They’re not afraid to ask questions and they give honest answers. No topic is off limits – nor is any food or outfit or adventure or sexual position. They are boundless, fearless, with bottomless imaginations and limitless mojo. Surely in most cases these women were not cultivated this way – surely they needed to learn it. But imagine a generation where this stuff is automatic? Now that we know the way to promote our own Pinkness, it’s not hard to pass it along to the Pinkies coming up. When they’re our age they’ll have forums like this on things like Ending War in a Week … what world-changing power will be born of groups of women who, from a very young age, have understood what it is to be whole?
Peace and Flowers in our Hair,
Dr. Lissa Rankin is an OB/GYN physician, an author, a nationally-represented professional artist, and the founder of Owning Pink, an online community committed to building authentic community and empowering women to get- and keep- their "mojo". Owning Pink is all about owning all the facets of what makes you whole- your health, your sexuality, your spirituality, your creativity, your career, your relationships, the planet, and YOU. Dr. Rankin is currently redefining women’s health at the Owning Pink Center, her practice in Mill Valley, California. She is the author of the forthcoming What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (St. Martin's Press, September 2010).