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How to Own Your Strengths

Morgan Kelly Burke
Aug. 7, 2012

Mom and blogger Amanda Rodriguez shares her tips for raising self-assured boys as part of the Care.com Interview Series.

Amanda Rodriguez is proud to say she's a confident woman - now, that is. Having grown up lacking some much needed self-esteem, Rodriguez makes it a mission to empower her kids to feel good about themselves and confident in their talents. While she may call herself "dumb" as a joke on her blog, Parenting by Dummies, this mother of three boys doesn't put up with any negative self-talk in her home. See how a TV show helped turn her life around, why she believes in owning up to your strengths and weaknesses, and why "I can't" isn't an option.

Tell us about your family.

I am mom to three energetic, fun loving Dudes. They are currently 4, 7 and 10 years old. I am married to the first Dude I met on my first day of college. The only other chick in the house besides me is our one-and-a-half-year-old Bulloxer. And she's a total diva to make up for the testosterone overload.

Do you consider yourself a confident woman? If so, what and who helped you get there?

I consider myself confident NOW, but I don't think I've always been that way. At least not when it comes to my body. I've always had a number of body issues, even in my younger, pre-kid days when I had a smoking hot body to call my own. I went on TLC's What Not to Wear show a year and a half ago and that experience totally changed my life. Clearly they helped me ditch my fleece-covered life, but they also helped me realize what I was hiding behind all of that plushy material. I've continued to work on finding a happy medium between shaking what my mama gave me and shedding some pounds to get to a healthy weight. Shaking what my mama gave me is so, SO fun!

Do you or any of your kids struggle with a lack of self-confidence? How have you handled that?

My oldest son has struggled with his academic confidence in the past. He was having trouble in math and he was quickly developing and I'm-just-not-good-at-math mentality that would be a total disservice to him as he grows up. As a former teacher, I knew what having that mind set could do to a kid's future academic opportunity, so we immediately found a tutoring center to enroll him in. His increased skill, mixed with our (and the tutor's) constant encouragement, has propelled him to the head of his math class. Now I have to ask the kid to tone down the math cockiness a bit!

What was the one moment you knew you were worthy, important and that you truly count?

I think I've always felt this way. My mom and I are really close, and when I was younger my sister passed away. Seeing how that experience affected my parents, and living it myself at such a young age made me realize that I really do matter a lot to some people. Sometimes I forget to treat myself that way, but I know it's true and my family, and now my own husband and children help remind me.

How do you express the value of confidence to your kids? What tips do you have for other parents on boosting kids' self-esteem? Is there anything you wish your parents had done or said to you to boost your self-esteem?

I think the most important thing parents can do is to not allow negative self-talk in their home. We don't let our kids say they can't do something or that they are bad at something. When they are feeling frustrated, we ask them to try to express those feelings in terms of what the problem is specifically. For example, they aren't allowed to say, "I can't do this math." They have to say, "These fractions are really confusing to me," or something of that nature. We also make them take responsibility for their own actions, whether it be for successes or for things they didn't accomplish the way they hoped or should have. Requiring them to suffer consequences and/or celebrate their own successes instead of taking credit for them or making excuses on their behalf is empowering. And being empowered boosts confidence, right?!

How might you (some day) use social media to increase your child's self-esteem?

I'm not sure I will do this. I guess I will make every effort to just ensure that they have positive social media experiences that don't destroy their self-esteem. But I intend to do that in every facet of their life, while I follow them around town and check their phone and sneak into their rooms at night to go through their stuff. Okay, I won't be doing those things, but man do I seriously want to!

What's the ONE thing you want your kids to feel/remind themselves/know when they walk out the door in the morning? What words do you want them to remember to boost their confidence?

You're smart. You're awesome. And no matter what, I'll love you hard when you come home. Go rock the world today - high five!

Amanda Rodriguez, or "Dumb Mom" as she calls herself, is the writer behind the popular humor and parenting blog Parenting by Dummies. Outsmarted by her children daily, she attempts to navigate motherhood, childhood and everything in between. She lives in Maryland with her husband, three boys and baby girl dog. Find Amanda on Twitter and Facebook.

Find more messages of confidence in our Care.com Interview Series: You Count ยป

Photo used with permission from Amanda Rodriquez.
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