Queen: Naima Kourtnae (8 years old)
Flair: How did you feel when you realised you were having a girl?
TK: The truth is, I wasn’t thrilled when I found out I was going to be a mom. It had nothing to do with her gender. I just didn’t feel ready mentally or physically. I didn’t think I would have been an exceptional mom either and was plagued with constant thoughts of possibly failing as a mom. It’s pretty ironic considering my online community often compliments me about my parenting skills. I thank my best friend Malisa Coker who got me through my pregnancy emotionally and psychologically.
F: Self-esteem is a problem among girls today — how do you assist your daughter in accepting herself for who she is?
TK: I believe in the power of affirmation. I consciously affirm her every day and it isn’t conditional meaning, I speak words of positivity and encouragement whether something is done perfectly or not. I reinforce values and her uniqueness and I take the time to show her how her uniqueness allows her to be a superstar. An important part of the process building her self esteem is to teach her about her rights. Before she was five, I taught her that her voice, opinions and feelings matter. She not only has a right to express herself but to also be heard. She has been taught that if someone or something makes her uncomfortable, she is to share that discomfort and I will do everything in my power to remove it. I constantly reinforce that respect goes both ways and if someone (especially a friend) disrespects her, she has to be strong enough to defend herself and walk away from that friend. Finally, I affirm that she can be anything she wants to be and to be unapologetic about being amazing at what she does. But I have to lead by example. So, I am tasked with the responsibility of practising what I preach. Teaching is in the doing and I can’t truly empower her if I am not empowered myself.
F: What are some of your traits that you see her adopting?
TK: She is fun-loving, bold, expressive and empathetic. She is willing to try (even if it isn’t perfect, even if there is a little self-doubt), she is willing to give it a go and to do her best. We go for progress and not perfection. She showed me that I have so much more love to pour out of me than I ever thought was possible. Her positive outlook on life reminds me that there is always a brighter side. I am more patient, vulnerable and open; it’s the only way I can truly guide her.
F: Did you ever play ‘mommy and me’ dress up? Do you believe in matching mother-daughter outfits? If yes, why? If no why not?
TK: Matching outfits can be cute. We have done it a few times but I strongly believe that a child should be dressed accordingly, so I have no intention of dressing her in outfits that are too “grown” for the sake of being “mini-me.” I never planned them, but if you have a daughter, you are bound to have a few. She enjoys putting on my jewellery, gowns and takes pride in applying my make-up when I have an engagement. Her best quote of all time is “ Mommy, when you die, may I have this outfit?”. I often remind her that I don’t have to die for her to inherit my things.
F: Is your daughter comfortable sharing secrets with you?
TK: Absolutely. One of the most prized things in our relationship is her confidence in sharing everything with me. I have worked hard to constantly create an enrollment and relationship that fosters that openness. Most of my online community on Instagram can vouch for that. Each time she shares a secret, it gives me the opportunity to demystify, galvanise or explain things that might have gone unanswered. She is free to ask anything, no topic is off-limits and I promise to always be honest. For some parents, they struggle to have certain types of conversations and they leave it to the teachers, society and social media to educate and inform. I prefer her asking me and having an honest conversation. She knows that if she tells me the truth, she cannot get in trouble and mommy will always have her back. From a boy who she may like to an encounter she has with a bully, she shares it and gives me the opportunity to act accordingly.
F: What lessons has your daughter taught you and how has she helped you to become a better mother?
TK: She showed me that I have so much more love to pour out of me than I ever thought was possible. Her positive outlook on life reminds me that there is always a brighter side. I am more patient, vulnerable and open; it’s the only way I can truly guide her.
As parents, you don’t always trust your techniques and you don’t know what the outcome of your input will be or how it will manifest. However, it’s times like these that show you that once you are consistent with anything (in this case the training techniques of your child) and you water that seed daily, the fruits start to bear before you even know it. Sow the seed and water it!