One characteristic of strength is being independent. When we learn to rely on ourselves only, we obtain absolute power to make choices–to live with freedom and responsibility. With this comes confidence and more strength. Opportunities unfold and fear takes a backseat. We learn to be bold, to trust ourselves more, to read our instincts more clearly and to have the wherewithal to look around us, inspire, and even give back.
Being self-reliant is the golden elixir to raising strong girls. It’s the magic potion that paves the unstoppable road ahead.
I wish I could take credit for this belief, but it was my 9-year-old daughter, Pascal, who showed me that independence was a necessary ingredient for her growth and development.
About 4 months ago, Pascal was asking me for skate lessons, a new skateboard, gymnastics classes and a laundry list of other things. I said, these things are expensive, they add up–we need to pick and choose. Little did I know what she was concocting behind the scenes: she was spending time at her grandmothers learning to play a dusty old accordion and she convinced me to let her play as a street performer in the hopes of raising some capital to fulfill her wants.
At the start, I was nervous for her– What if she put herself out there and no one paid any attention let alone money to watch her? I let her play anyway and of course she proved me wrong. Not only did she make money, and continues to do so, but she has since learned the value of earning it, saving it, spending it and even being grateful for it. She also has learned that it feels good to volunteer and play for a retirement home and also to raise money for victims of violence in our city.
The result of this has caused an interesting effect. Her list of “needs” has gotten shorter, and more focused too: She has a small bankroll for her weekly skate lessons with her coach/mentor, she has a savings to purchase a smaller, lighter accordion to save her from developing tendonitis and she ultimately wants to save up for a flight to Paris, so she can play in front of the Eiffel Tower (Pascal is close to being fully fluent in French and she also wants to test out her language skills there).
All kids have the power to come up with their own solutions to meet their So Called needs. It has always been fun to retort: If you want that toy that badly, how will you get it? What can you do to buy it? More often than not, the urge to spend will have vanished while the magic of sitting outside with a lemonade stand or mowing neighborhood yards has stuck around. They’ll learn a thing or two about themselves in the process of course.
Still, it feels especially important to raise girls with this level of independence in mind. When you are self-reliant, you don’t need anyone to take care of you. It becomes easy to separate needs from wants and also see ways to keep investing in yourself. Having money to do as you wish is a right and a luxury, but the process of getting there is worth something money can’t buy: increased self-worth and security with an infinite return.
Could it be that I’m raising strong CEO’s or plucky entrepreneurs? Both I hope.