Growing up, I was very blessed to have women in my life who modeled character, hard work, unselfishness and sacrifice. These women shaped who I am today and my gratitude is expressed, in part, in how I pass on that example to others.
One of the greatest assets our young people have are those who’ve gone before them who share of their experience and wisdom.
Our young ladies should not have to ‘figure it out’ on their own. We mustn’t leave them alone to navigate the rugged terrain of modern life without guidance and counsel. The notion of, ‘I got mine, so you get yours’ is selfish and limited. Neglecting them is neglecting ourselves and ultimately destructive to our community as a whole.
On the other hand, we can influence generations of young women and girls to maximize their potential by the habits we model for them. Some of these habits include:
In the late 1990’s through the early 2000’s there was a campaign by some women entertainers proclaiming to love themselves in spite of their large size. “Big is Beautiful” became a slogan.
In all circumstances, women must love themselves and this does not exclude healthy eating habits. Obesity, a major contributor to disease, is on the rise in the Black community and sadly occurring at alarming rates among our young people. Healthy food choices should be demonstrated and talked about in general conversation. Our young people should know the real effects of food choices on our health, our mental clarity and overall well being.
The wellness of any community is determined first by what happens in the kitchen. Vegetables, fresh fruit and water should be essential parts of our daily diets. And since 'health is our first wealth,' we should make eating well a lifestyle priority.
Fitness is not just for athletes. Fitness, like eating well, helps us maintain our mental and physical health. Our young women should see us having an active, non-sedentary lifestyle. This includes disconnecting from cable or internet programming and getting outside. Sun, or the lack of sun, has a real effect on our mental health. Let’s encourage them to put down their devices, get outside and get moving. If we make it part of our lifestyle, they will be influenced to do the same.
There is a greater conversation for us to have regarding money other than just how to make more. Mismanaging an abundance of money can be as crippling to our financial wealth as not earning enough. We are very closeted about money, especially since it is incorrectly used as a measurement of our social ranking. But it should not be a taboo conversation with our young people.
Money management is the main determinant of our financial comfort. Our young women and girls should understand interest rates, banking, credit, living within their means, spending less than they earn, etc. These conversations are essential so that they are not underprepared when lenders and others seek to take financial advantage of them.
Let’s open up these conversations with them. If we lack financial education ourselves, we can learn together right alongside them. There are many free resources available, some for women in particular. We can take advantage of these and even have financial literacy classes for the young women and girls within our circles.
Sisterhood cannot be overrated. There is something special about the bond between women who support one another. There is never any personal cost to true sisterhood; it is all benefit.
Media wants us to think that we should be in competition, and not unity, with one another. That said, I will admit that my closest friend and I were in serious competition for nearly a year. Our competition was in who could meet her savings goal first. She won but I was on her heels! We continue to challenge and inspire each other AND we share in one another’s wins.
Media and marketers encourage us to compete for men, money and acquisition. The truth is, there really is no competition necessary. Each is blessed with her own predetermined blessing, if her output is right. No one can get my blessings nor can I take any sister’s blessings that are meant for her.
Energy does not work that way.
So we needn’t waste time and the valuable resource of sisterhood competing with each other. Instead, when we encourage one another, push one another, hold one another accountable, promote one another, celebrate one another, share with one another, we open up pathways for all of us. But the ability to engage in sisterhood is predicated on the habit that follows.
Self love is a practice that each of us must have and that which we must model for our young women and girls.
What is self love?
Self love is knowing one’s own worthiness to exist and thrive in a world occupied by billions of others seeking to thrive themselves. Self love is looking in the mirror and loving what we see reflected (and improving on what we don’t love.) Self love is understanding that one is inherently great, made in the image of the Almighty, with no additives necessary. Self love is taking action to preserve and protect one’s body and mind. Self love is investing in the inner self through education, training, counseling, healthy relationships and spiritual enlightenment. Self love is sorting those who seek entry into one’s personal space like one sorts beans from pebbles to determine those who bring enhancement from those who carry negativity.
When we love ourselves, really love ourselves, it is easier to love those within our lives who we are supposed to love; especially our sisters.
The above is not an exhaustive list of habits good to model to our young women and girls, but it is a start. Let’s continue to be assets to our young people. Let’s be informing, engaging, loving, caring and sharing. When we do this for them, we empower a generation coming behind us with the confidence and wisdom that they will later impart to the generation behind them.
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Nurah strives to enlighten, empower and engage her readers with the wealth of knowledge she has gained from her own experiences and those of others from whom she has learned.