Saturday, November 19, 2016

First Lady, First Lesson

What Michelle Obama Can Teach Us About Raising Empowered Girls

Michelle Obama delivered one of the most powerful and heartfelt speeches at the Democratic National Convention last week. As I listened and watched our First Lady, I couldn’t help but tear up with emotion and pride in what she has represented for so many Black women. As a wife, mother and daughter Michelle exemplifies to the country and the world the essence of what it is to be a strong, beautiful and intelligent Black woman.

Here are some lessons Michelle can teach us as we raise and empower the next generation of Black women:

1. Women are a powerful force. Women have had to fight a long time towards equality and rights. For Black women, this fight has been paved with many additional challenges and this struggle continues today. Women have had to adapt and acclimate to break through glass ceilings at work, gain the legal right to purchase a home on their own and access to opportunities more likely to be given to our male counterparts. By Michelle Obama embracing her femininity, strength and perspective she brings to the table as a woman, it has made her even more respected and acknowledged.

Lesson Learned: Women don’t have to act like a man to be strong and successful. There is incredible strength in our femininity. This is an attribute we possess which is unique to us as women.

2. Mothers create the roadmap for their daughters. Michelle Obama came from a working class family. She didn’t allow where she lived or what she may have lacked dictate her path in life. She didn’t make excuses for not succeeding. Michelle worked hard in school and her career. This mirrored what she saw in her mom and dad. Your daughter is constantly watching you and looking for cues of what’s acceptable. Often, what you do is more important than what you say because kids mirror your behavior. Look at FLOTUS and her daughters. You see two confident and focused young women. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!

3. Take the higher road. One of Michelle’s best quotes in her speech at the Democratic National Convention was when she said, “When people go lower, we go higher.” It has been eight years of highly intense scrutiny and criticism of the Obama family. Michelle was mimicked in newspapers and magazines, at one point compared to a monkey, and often criticized for her parenting skills by some conservative parties. Her daughters were criticized for their hairstyles and also recently when her oldest daughter, Malia, was seen on video dancing at the Lollapolooza music fest. President Obama was also attacked for many of the decisions he made in his role and paradoxically for being too angry or not angry enough.

But, if you go back and look at the criticisms, you will note Michelle Obama and her family didn’t retaliate or stoop to the level of those who made these negative comments. When asked or prompted for a response to the negative comments, they would always take the high road and stay above the fray. This had to be difficult, especially with their natural instinct of wanting to protect their families.

Lesson Learned: Take the higher road even when it’s difficult. People will remember the person who deals with a difficult situation respectfully versus an individual who reacts negatively or in a condescending manner.

4. Your mind is your sexiest attribute. Beauty fades and it’s fleeting. But what makes Michelle Obama so respected is her intelligence. She is smart and witty and real. She has a sense of humor. Her beauty and confidence are evident, but her intelligence is the differentiator. It makes her highly appealing.

Lesson Learned: Teach your daughters to develop their mind not just their physical attributes. It’s the one asset that will sustain you through a lifetime.

Michelle Obama leaves a lasting impression and legacy as the First Lady of the United States and as a wife, mom and daughter. These lessons she has taught us can help empower your daughters and other young women to create their legacies! - author unnamed

First Lady Michelle Obama with daughters Malia Obama (C) and Sasha Obama (L) Photo by Jacopo Raule for Getty Images

First Lady Michelle Obama surprised little girls before their recital. (Jan. 2013)

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