“You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose”
― Dr. Seuss
I, like most adults, am somewhat plagued by my inner voices. When I strive for greatness I have two voices that run circles around my mind. One that is the cheerleader, the voice of encouragement, the strength in my soul. The voice that reminds me I am strong, the voice that reminds me of all the things I can do, the voice that sounds like every positive or encouraging word that has been said to me over the years. The other is my voice of limits, the voice that repeats the negative things I have heard throughout my life, the voice that reminds me of my weaknesses. The voice that tells me I can’t, I wont, I shouldn’t. The voice that degrades my body and my mind. The voice that brings me both personal and professional doubt.
On any given day one voice may be stronger than the other. These voices are why I walked away from my dream many years ago and they are the voices that encourage me (albeit very slowly these days) toward the dreams that I have for my future. These are the voices that have helped me succeed and the voices that have played a hand in my failures.
I am limited. Not by the world around me, but by myself. We all are to some extent or another.
All of us, adults.
All of us, except our children.
Children see no limit to their futures until we point it out for them. I watch Bo as she faces the world in her own way and I see an incredible power in her, I see it in her little friends too. A limitless potential that exists within them. I watch as they learn new skills without fear of failure. The same as how a child learns to walk, every time they fall they do not become discouraged. Instead they try again and again until they master the skill. I watch as toddlers play, completely unaware of gender roles and stereotypes. I watch as parents begin to place limits. I watch as other adults place words in children’s mouths before they can even talk. I watch as assumptions are made about the limits of a person who doesn’t know that limits even exist yet.
Our children don’t see gender or race or disability in the same way that we do, until we teach it to them.
I’m still trying to find our balance with this. Every day I watch as Bo learns new skills and tests her body and her mind. I can see her natural strengths and areas that perhaps are natural weaknesses, but I step back as often as I can, she doesn’t need me to tell her what she can’t do and she certainly doesn’t need me to place judgement (however well meaning) on her abilities or her future pursuits. She doesn’t care what she can’t do because she’s too busy figuring out what she can…
I’m constantly conscious of the fact that the limitations I set for myself are modelling my daughters idea of adulthood, womanhood and beyond… I am working on being kinder to myself… for myself and for her too. I mess up a lot. But I’m just trying to keep my eyes wide open, for both our sakes.
What are you teaching your kids about their own limits?