(Inside: Never underestimate the power of encouragement for moms. Learn one thing you need to refashion you mom friends’ superhero cape and build a strong community of moms.)
“I was just told my youngest daughter needs to lose weight. By her doctor, of course.”
Sara sighed her disappointment, not realizing her supermom cape had slipped off a shoulder and dangled awkwardly on her left side.
“It just feels like she was born at home plate and her two older sisters were born on second base. They’re both beautiful and amazing dancers. And humans in general. People naturally gravitate to them for friendships. They just easily have it together – they’re in honors classes, leaders in their clubs…
I’m not complaining, really I’m not…
I’m just saying…”
Sara looked away for a minute searching for words.
“My youngest has poor fine motor skills, she’ll never be the dancers her sisters are. She sees an occupational therapist regularly. Oh…and a speech therapist. She always scores low on her academic tests. But that’s not what bothers me the most….what breaks my heart is that she struggles with friendships. She’s hard to be around and her peers know it. They avoid her. She’s rarely invited over to anyone’s house, much less a birthday party.”
Sara raised and lowered her shoulders, “My husband and I are ‘all in’ this parenting thing. She is getting the help she needs. We’re up for it, we’re doing fine…I’m okay…it’s just frustrating.”
(Supermom cape, now on the floor.)
Sara set down her sweet tea like the conversation was final. She clearly needed mom encouragement, but had an air of independence and pride in her posture. A reply from Tiana or me was clearly uninvited.
Related article: How to Outsmart Your Negative Thoughts
A few seconds passed, then Tiana – not one to be sappy or over-the-top with encouraging words – said quietly, “You know I’ve always had a soft spot for your youngest daughter.”
I looked up at Tiana trying to read where she was going with this. (Eggshells, Tiana, eggshells!)
Tiana continued, “Your youngest’s story is more challenging than others, I totally agree. But her story doesn’t start and stop in elementary & middle school. Ultimately…she…will…get through! She’s going to conquer her challenges like the strong woman she’ll grow up to be. Then, I believe that she’s going to do great things with her life. She will be able to reach people in a different way because she WASN’T born on second base. She is going to make an impact – a great one – in this world. It might not look like you imagined, but it’s going to happen. I’m convinced of it.”
Her words hung in the air.
Finally, Sara whispered, “Thanks for saying that.”
Then we hugged our goodbyes and promised to not let more time go between our get-togethers (as we always do). Sara walked away with her head high, her shoulders back and what’s that I saw flowing behind her? He superhero cape – she was wearing it (again), but this time like a BOSS.
Sara didn’t just hear Tiana’s words. She believed them.
Mommas, we have power inside of us – more than we realize and often taken for granted. It’s called words. Words that string together wisdom and truth when another person’s negative self-talk has hijacked her brain.
Every day we can use our words for good. Because every mom needs encouragement. And I mean every. single. mom. From the woman sporting the Gucci bag and well-manicured nails to the new mom with yoga pants perfumed with spit-up. (Because the spit-up fell that far down her clothing.) Never underestimate the power of encouragement for moms.
These studies on encouragement in the workplace can be applied to mom life…
“People perform at their best when they are inspired and motivated. (Ahem – ENCOURAGEMENT. This is added be me. But I had too!) These people care to do things right and deliver well. Studies show that people are more likely to climb up the corporate ladder or succeed in any venture when they are motivated and inspired. These two elements are proven to bring out the best in people.” Abbas Abedi
“The way leaders use positivity when communicating with employees can make a huge impact on their emotional well-being and their performance. I was really surprised how big the impact of these interactions can be. Goleman looked at several ways this can happen in Social Intelligence.”
Belle continues to describe experiments from Goleman’s book Social Intelligence that show:
But, the message I’ll remember about this article is this:
“When sharing feedback with employees, negatively-focused discussions are more likely to increase feelings of guilt, fear and anxiety. As I mentioned earlier, these emotions work against our cognitive abilities, forcing us into a spiral of being stressed about the need to improve, while our brains are too busy being stressed for us to actually improve.”
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And I could go on with quotes on the health and psychological benefits of encouragement, but I’ll stop here and say: We’re not perfect and we’ll never be, but let’s – as much as possible – choose to use our words to help refashion the supermom cape of other women. Let’s make encouragement for moms the norm as we build a strong community of women around us. You know…
…the kind of women who know how to respond to us when we, like Sara, start a sentence with, “I was just told...”
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.