by Shadra Bruce

Last Spring, we took our kids to Washington D.C. It was our first time there, and the kids were impressed with seeing, live and in person, the buildings and monuments they had studied about in school. When my daughter, Anika, says she plans to be the President of the United States someday, it’s easy to believe her.

Anika is only 8, but my daughter knows how she wants to look and dress, and while that may not seem to be important for a President, it’s an indication of the level of confidence and decisiveness she has within her. She has been putting together her own outfits since pre-school, and since we value the celebration of individuality in our family, we have always let her experiment with self-expression – even when it meant helping her dye her hair pink and purple to make a splashy entrance for the first day of second grade.

When Anika chooses an outfit, it’s not about color coordination or fitting in with the latest fad  – she is a natural born trend setter. From wearing wild and zany leggings under ballet skirts to lacy anklets with canvas tennis shoes, Anika is not afraid to experiment. Having her own sense of style (and parents who support her in choosing her own self-expressive looks based on how she feels each day) has given her an innate sense of confidence and strong self-esteem. She’s not worried about what others think of her; she simply dances her way through life feeling great about herself.

One of the most unique things about Anika’s sense of style is her socks. Not only does she refuse to wear a matching pair, but she often chooses one sock that is longer than the other. She’s fearless when it comes to breaking fashion rules. It makes laundry easier, because we don’t have to find and fold pairs. As Anika gets older, I’m excited to see how this confidence in being her own person will help her withstand the challenges life will throw her way.

The last time we went shopping, Anika and I stopped in one of our favorite stores to check out the new styles. She would hold something up and say, “I love this!” and I would say, “Well, what about this?” Anika’s response was always the same: “I love you mom, but I’m not you.”

I love that my 8-year old daughter already has the self-assuredness to recognize that while she is my offspring, she is also her own person.

I’m proud to be raising another strong and confident daughter who will never be a follower and will always be a trailblazer.