History’s strongest leaders rerouted their army when food supplies were cut off, they found creative ways to overcome hardship. They were respected, not just feared..and most importantly they sat across the table from known enemies and compromised for the sake of those that followed them.
Leadership is something we all need; as children and adults we need guidance..something or someone whose strengths outweigh our weaknesses. Someone who values our leadership qualities. For children who have not had a strong/moral/reliable/stable leader, such as former foster children, finding leadership as adults can be daunting.
Some revert to finding abusive leaders in relationships, just to feel safe. We all know the pitfalls of lack of permanency, abuse and neglect. However, former foster children also have the innate ability to be stronger leaders than the missing or abusive adults in their young life. It is my past pain in foster care as a child, that makes me a better mother and a better person now. This is possible for any former foster child.
To me, great leaders can reinvent themselves. They adapt to different situations with great stride. They come up with plan D when A, B and C fail. Most importantly, they are intelligent enough to know their own weaknesses, to seek help or self-improvement solutions. Leaders do not blame everyone else for their failures, they change their lifestyle to stay accountable to themselves through action.
True leaders earn respect by being personally successful, not just materially. Leaders stay in the game when things get tough, they are the last to leave under stress. And so they earn trust.
Former foster children are adaptable, they had no other choice. While other children were holding mom’s hand, some were stealing bread to survive. Others never slept for fear of who may come into their bedroom at night, but still got up and faced the world at age 7. Some walked the streets all night with no one calling them home. The safety boats and nets did not exist, and so they successfully navigated by themselves from infancy on through violence, neglect and chaos.
These horrible early experiences, which can reshape brain and emotional development, makes them more resilient to loss as adults. That pain can be re-harnessed into a positive sense of worth and leadership ability unequaled elsewhere.
My goal as a mother, given my childhood experiences in foster care, is to make sure mini me is a good leader as an adult and has the safety net to propel herself anywhere she wants in life. I think in many ways my past does cripple me, it does still keep me awake at night. I look in mini me’s innocent eyes and remember the pain I felt at her age. It is tough not to hold on tight to her. I am protective about who my daughter meets, where she goes; my past fears play a role in my close relationship to her.
But the past also has allowed me to accept things sometimes as they are, to try my hardest at anything before I give up, to pursue improving myself and to be consistent. I value people and am careful of what I discard. I have always been the main leader in my daughter’s life and I’ve earned her trust by putting other goals aside to be by her side every day.
I hope my leadership qualities, as a consistent, trustworthy, strong person stand out to her when she looks back on her childhood. By modelling this ability to be creative when life gets hard, hearts break,or dreams fail, I am creating a leader in mini me. And I hope she seeks a spouse who is a strong leader and respects her unique leadership abilities.
All I have ever wanted for her was to show her what I never knew; safety, security, and loving leadership.