(The Mami Chronicles) The Curse of Bendito: How To Raise Confident Kids

My oldest daughter is 4 and my youngest just recently celebrated her 1st birthday. They are both growing so quickly and I marvel at every milestone. Oohing and aahing at the smallest achievements. From being able to feed themselves to their ability to spell words on the iPad mini to writing their name and reading simple words, I am constantly reminded that they are growing up. And the more they grow the more I think about the daunting task parents have in raising confident, kind, independent and productive human beings. I also think about the challenges they will one day face and my heart swells. As parents, it is our natural instinct to protect and nurture our children, to try as best we can to shield them from pain and disappointment. But as much as we may want to guard them, sometimes overprotecting them does more harm than good.

I, as I'm sure many parents do, frequently question my parenting, often times doubting myself and my decisions as a mom. Wondering if I’m too affectionate or not showing her enough affection? Am I praising her too much or too little, am I too strict, am I too overprotective? Am I stunting her growth and independence? Donna Ball said it best, “Motherhood is a choice you make every day, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”

There’s no rule book when it comes to raising children and for most parents it’s trying to find the right balance between love, protection, and discipline. It’s more about doing what’s best for them in the long run and not what’s in our parental nature to do like deciding when to console them versus when they need to self soothe or figure things out on their own. Being a parent is not only about bearing a child. It’s also about bearing witness to its life. It’s about helping them create a life that is separate and apart from your own. A life, which they have created for themselves through hard work, struggle, determination and commitment, not one that, was given to them.

The worst thing parents and care takers can do to their children, in my opinion, is to feel sorry for them. As a Brooklyn born Puertoriqueña, I call it the curse of the “bendito”. In my family we have used the term bendito way too many times. From when little Juan falls and scrapes his knee to when Doña Maria’s roof caves in from a tropical storm. The phrase is used in pretty much every situation to denote sym