By Takiya Smith
“People who are intimidated by you talk bad about you to others in hopes that others won’t find you appealing.”
This was the private text message that I sent to my daughter in an effort to encourage her through not only her teenage years but through life. In further encouragement, I stated “let them talk because you are something worth talking about.”
As a parent of two, a mother of a daughter and an example to my children, I strive daily to take on every role of raising God-fearing, loving, loyal, compassionate and morally responsible children.
As far back as age 5, my now 16-year-old daughter has always endured being the target of most girls “misdirected” issues. She has been picked on because of her weight. She has been taunted because of her unique sense of fashion. She has been judged for her individuality. She has been mocked for being smart. She has been ignored for having a voice to make a stand and she has been laughed at for being a leader. My daughter so effortlessly and independently marches to the beat of not only her own drum line but to the funky, eclectic tunes of a violin, piano, trumpet, guitar and whatever other instrument she so freely chooses to hear.
While the description of her obstacles may have pulled at your heart strings, don’t dare spare a minute feeling pity for her. I want you all to know this: She simply does not have a care as to what others say or negatively do towards her. At that young age of 5 years old when she first came home in tears over being picked on, it struck a chord so deep within me that I wanted not only to protect her, but to fight her battles for her. However, knowing that I could not and would not always be around to fight her battles for her — let alone possibly offer her the solace she would so lovingly need — I made a decision to teach her that life would always deliver the good, bad and ugly but that it was up to her whether she let it change whom she was or wanted to be.
I spent my time telling her the truth of who she was instead of allowing her to focus on the lies of what others thought. In turn, I taught her to open her heart and not her head. I challenged her to look beyond the nasty words, catty whispers and snide stares to see the hurt coming from those within. “It’s not you, it’s them.” Time after time, when faced with gossip or another individual’s malicious intention, I endeavored for her to take notice of why that person “didn’t” like her. I never forced an answer nor did I offer a solution but gently questioned what she made of the situation.
Our talks not only strengthened our bond but allowed her to see beyond the words and actions and clearly into understanding that the “hate” had nothing to do with her. What evolved from these lessons is one of the world’s most kind-hearted, self-assured young ladies that I have ever met in my entire life. Not because she is my daughter and not even because she is just an all-around good kid, but what I have learned is that if I did nothing else right in my life, parenting my two children has paid off big time. Those little seeds of time, love and guidance have blossomed in ways that amaze me to this day. I have witnessed first-hand the love and maturity of her peer counseling and have watched countless enemies become her closest friends because she never gave in to them, nor did she give up on them.
The moral of my story ends with this: “Mean girls” do and always will exist. But when we allow ourselves the fact of understanding that one making another look inferior to feel superior is a signal that something going on in the interior is being hidden by the exterior we can move forward and handle life’s situations accordingly.
Raising our children starts in the heart, filters into the home and then flows into the community. Today’s results are a direct reflection of yesterday’s actions and tomorrow’s outcome will be the efforts of today’s guidance.
Takiya La’Shaune Smith, mother, licensed cosmetologist, mentor and entrepreneur is an author and beauty columnist promoting inner and outer beauty, self-esteem, preservation and awareness. Email her at Takiya@Takiya-LaShaune.com or contact her at 843-263-0426.