Why is it so often that we forget the girl we used to be? As a mother of two girls, ages seven and five, I hope I am giving my daughters the tools to succeed in life. When I think back to the young girl I used to be, without the fears and concerns I now have and before I was tainted by adulthood to believe that I have limitations, I remember how easy it was back then to reach for my dreams.
Not long ago, I decided that I wanted to get back in touch with my inner girl so that I could better connect with my daughters. That’s when I decided to look up someone who might give me a hand
A year ago, I was introduced to Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. Dr. Barbara is a Positive Psychologist who has worked with kids, moms, women, and dads for over twenty-five years. Much of her work is focused on helping young girls identify their strengths, talents, and potential, and helping them to realize how special they are so that they can remain true to themselves as they move through adolescence into adulthood. I recently asked Dr. Barbara why it’s important for moms to remember what they were like as girls. Here’s what she had to say:
Twenty-five years of clinical work with women in my psychology practice has convinced me that many, many women—and of course that includes mothers—forget the truth. We seem to forget what the ten- or eleven-year-old girl inside of us once knew with such certainty. We forget how strong we are. We forget how astute we are at sizing up the world. We forget our capacity to recover from hurts and build successful new relationships.
We forget so much of our childhood wisdom. We forget the excitement and enthusiasm that comes from letting our passionate natures come out to play. And we forget how to laugh, laugh from our bellies. We forget how to intensely react to daily life. So often we forget how to have fun. Many of us don’t allow the playful part of ourselves to come out. We don’t know how to let out, safely, the imp inside of us. And we forget how proud we can feel about ourselves.
I see it as a tragic loss—we have forgotten so many of the simple truths known to us in our girlhood. The cost is enormous. Many of us walk around depressed, feeling like we’re a balloon that has pins pricked into it. Many of us don’t achieve our birthright of living out our potential. Falling by the wayside, many of us are under-utilized, under-educated, and marginally productive.
We spend our time ruminating, feeling bad, wishing we had made other choices with our lives, and often seeing ourselves as in hopeless situations. Too often, we blame others, saying someone else is responsible for the decay of our own lives, having lost any sense that we are navigators of our lives. Like sleeping beauty, we await a prince to awaken us, rather than awaking ourselves to our own riches: our capacities for joy and fun, to create, study, invent, innovate, lead, recover, re-invent, feel, love, discover, share, etc.
Just think how much more you will be able to give your daughter in every way, if you are in touch with your essence and understand that it is critical for good mental health to hold on to the most treasure parts of ourselves. Think how hard you will work to make sure your daughter recognizes and values her talents, strengths, coping skills, interests, her personal values, and her potential. You will make sure that she doesn’t get lost in the confusion and storm of adolescence. You will make sure that she feels good about herself and capable of succeeding. You will make sure she has fun!
What a great mother you will be! It is a win-win for everybody.*
I need to get back in touch with my inner girl, not only for my daughters, but also for me. Just think of the great example I’ll be setting for my children, helping them to succeed and letting them watch their mom reach for her dreams too!
* Some of this article is adapted from the introduction to the women’s version of The Truth, which is titled: The Truth, I’m Ten, I’m Smart and I Know Everything by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein.