Growing up, I never had a lot of confidence. In fact, during middle school and high school, I was pretty much a social failure. It came down to a lack of self esteem and self confidence. It made it difficult for me to be comfortable in my own skin or do the things I wanted to do.

My kids have the self-esteem that I lacked. It comes from the way we’ve raised them, I guess, in celebrating their individuality. It’s not that my parents did anything wrong; they just came from a different generation when it was all about respecting authority and chasing the American Dream and conforming to society. Dave and I have raised our kids to question everything, think for themselves, and be actively involved in change. We’re outspoken, and so are the kids.

How does this pay off? Well, our kids are comfortable speaking their minds on issues they feel strongly about (even if their opinions differ from ours). It also pays off in ways that allow them a better experience in life. We’ve seen it come to fruition with the older kids, but we’re finally seeing the impact of the effort with the younger kids.

Parker recently tried out for a school play. It required him to get up on stage, sing a solo, do a dance, and read lines. He didn’t get the starring role, but he got a decent part. He was comfortable getting up in front of people and putting himself on the line – the thought of which gives me hives! Anika took part in a dance revue last year that had her on stage, dancing and performing in front of hundreds of people – something I could not have done at her age no matter what the circumstances!

Parker and Anika are strong-willed and somewhat control freaks (much like their parents). While that sometimes means we butt heads and come to the end of the day exhausted, I’m thrilled to know that they will go through life more comfortable in their own skin than I ever was.