When my husband and I adopted our daughter late last year, we didn't get any supplies until the last minute. We wanted to wait until we knew she was really on the way. But when the time came for us to start picking out baby bottles and a bassinet and everything in between, we found ourselves talking about a lot more than just the basics. Instead, we began discussing the bigger things, like who we wanted to be as parents, what our hopes for our daughter were, and what parents can do to help their kids dream big and believe anything is possible.
I, like millions of other parents all around the world, want my child to have every chance and opportunity possible. But before that happens, I know I have to teach her to believe that she's capable of doing big and great things in her life. I hope I can help her learn how to have respect for herself and others, and to work hard to make her community a better place. I want to empower her self-confidence so she can recognize the power and potential that lives inside her, and use that strength to fulfill her wildest dreams.
Inspired by Bustle's partnership with Jif® on the "what IF?" campaign, here are some ways I plan on making sure my daughter knows that she is loved, supported and can dream big. Most of this will have to wait until she is able to talk, but as she grows, my husband and I can’t wait to start supporting her interests. We'll help her imagination run wild with dreams and goals, whether it involves researching rocket scientists or marathon runners, or running board rooms or poetry slams. Every dream starts with asking the simple question, “What if?” and Jif® is a proud sponsor of Team USA and dreamers everywhere.
1. I'm Going To Speak With Encouragement
Lately, my favorite phrase to say to my daughter has been "you are so brave!" As she grows, encouraging my daughter to be brave in trying new things (big or small) will be paramount in helping her achieve whatever her imagination allows.
2. We're Going To Break The Rules (Sometimes)
In eight months of being a mom, I’ve learned that my daughter and I both thrive when we have a strict routine. But I remind myself that her dreams will grow when we veer off schedule for something unexpected, like a visit to a crazy art installation or staying up past bedtime to see the fireflies.
3. We're Going To Learn About People's Different Jobs
I'm going to help my daughter learn about the different professions people have by asking my friends to talk to her about their jobs. The more she knows about women who are currently in the workplace, the better.
4. We're Going To Keep A Dream Journal
Every morning, we're going to sit down at the breakfast table as a family and write down what we all dreamt about the night before. Sure, sometimes we won't remember, and when that happens, we'll write about goals we might have for the future.
5. We're Going To Go To The Library
When my daughter expresses an interest in a topic (whether it's for a school project or a personal goal) I'm going to help her learn everything about it that she can by taking her to the library. I'm going to show her that it's a place where her imagination can soar, both on the ground or in the stars.
6. I'm Going To Smile Every Day
Years ago, I read something by a mommy blogger who said that her one hope for her children was that they would see how her face lit up when she saw them. That struck a chord with me, and I am going to smile every day so my daughter instantly is constantly reminded what a big impact that just her presence can have.
7. We're Going To Brainstorm Together
If, when my daughter and I are walking to school in the morning, we come across a vacant building or lot, I'm going to ask her what we would do with the space if it were completely ours. "What if we turn it into a castle? What if it were a pet hospital? Or a bowling alley, perhaps?"
8. I'm Going To Be Her Biggest Coach
Achieving big dreams involves the ability to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and parental pep talks are the key to keeping kids from giving up when the going gets tough. My parents did this with me, and so I'm going to do it with my daughter — and my hope is that she'll do it with her own, as well.