How To Be
A Confident Mom

Being a confident woman and mother is individualized and can change each day. Renee explores the ways we can improve confidence, of ourselves and our children.

WITH Renee Avis, LPC

Cindi Michaelson: 

Crissy and I had the privilege of meeting with Renee several months ago. I think it was in March, and we just really connected with her. She had some fantastic things to say and we were so happy when she agreed to come back and speak to everyone again, this time with a fuller crowd rather than it just being just me and Crissy.

 

So, we’d like to introduce Renee Avis, she’s a licensed professional counselor in private practice for almost 15 years. She specializes in postpartum depression and anxiety as well as eating disorders and unhappy relationships with food. Renee recently launched ‘Our Mom Tribe’ where she offers coaching for mom on topics such as exposing negative thoughts, being a confident woman, body confidence, and so much more. So without further introduction, I’d like to turn it over to Renee and let you take it away.

 

Renee Avis:

Okay, well Hi! It’s nice to meet you guys and I’m glad you are here.

 

Right now, with everything that is going on, confidence can definitely feel a little shaky sometimes. It‘s important to keep your confidence going. But knowing how to do that can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, or not quite sure where to start for that.

 

So, one of the things that are important, especially for being a mom, is being able to believe in yourself, and believe in who you are as a parent for your kids. Because your kids definitely pick up on that energy and those vibes. So being a confident mom means trying not to listen to those negative messages that often sneak up in your head and are trying to tell you that you don’t know how to do something or you’re not doing something good enough. Whether that’s for yourself or your kids or making decisions. 

 

Knowing how to make a decision that feels good for you but also is something that is good for the kids, good for the family. There is just so much to take in, and being confident in everything that you’re doing. 

 

Our Mom Tribe, one of the reasons that I came up with that name is that I firmly believe in having a tribe that you call your own. It does not have to be a big tribe, I have one really good girlfriend that I talk to every day, text message every day.  And then I have some other good girlfriends who I keep in contact with, I don’t talk to them as often, but just knowing that you’ve got somebody that you can go to, who gets you, and also gets your parenting as well. That is such an important thing. So you can get all the validation and support that you need from them. So trying to find that tribe is really important. If you have lived here all your life, that can be easy to do. But if you’re relatively new to the community, that can be a little bit harder to find your tribe.

 

When we first moved here I didn’t have any kids, but I didn’t have a lot of close friends either. It wasn’t until after I had our first daughter that I started to meet more moms and get closer friends. So finding ways to connect with other women in your community, like through this group, HER Health Collective, as you all know, is a great community, with lots of support and can answer questions, and get information. So finding your tribe, that is certainly something that is important to do.

 

I think, talking more specifically about all the events that are going on in our world today, which is extremely overwhelming, finding what you believe in and feels good for you, and sticking with that. And that is so hard to do! I even waiver in that, I’m like, “okay this is what I think is important and the direction I want to go” and then I read another article or see another post on Facebook or Instagram and I think “well maybe, I don’t know.”

 

But, always going back to, okay does that feel right for me? If I were to go in that direction would that feel like a place I would be comfortable in and would want to talk about with people?

 

Believing in what you are doing for yourself is such an important thing to be able to come to. 

 

How do you do that? Sometimes it’s trial and error. Whether it is talking to other people, other moms, or friends about what their stances are on the things that are happening and in those conversations you’re going to find out, do you agree with what they are saying? Does it feel good for you or do you not agree? And you want to speak up and share your thoughts and opinions about it. So that’s certainly one way to work on that confidence.

It’s also really important to find things that you enjoy doing. I love to be outside and have a vegetable garden and a flower garden. Finding other activities that you like to do, whether it’s yoga or I love paddleboarding and my girls have actually got into paddleboarding. It’s just such a confidence builder for them to do that. So, finding those activities that bring joy to you and help you feel good about yourself. That’s such an important thing to do.

 

Those are some things that go into being a confident mom, and as I say that one of the other things I know that Cindi, Crissy, and I had mentioned was doing that for your kids so that you can help them build their confidence. When they see that you are doing something that you enjoy and that you can believe in, they will get those vibes if you believe in something. It helps them to start to make their decisions, choices they want to make, and stances they want to take. 

 

We’ve been talking with our girls about the protests, George Floyd, Black Lives Matter and everything that has been happening. I’ve been trying to check in with my girls about that, asking them what they’ve seen on TikTok or what their friends are talking about. Just kind of being curious with them and helping them to have space to think about and share with you what they’ve been hearing and learning. 

 

I say learning, but it’s not the best learning. But having those open conversations with them just helps them build their confidence, knowing that they have a voice and that they can talk about things that they have questions about or are important to them. Sharing your confidence with your kids is such an important piece. 

 

Confidence takes time, it doesn’t just show up. We were talking before we got started that right now confidence can feel a little shaky with being a mom, because of all the information that kids are getting and also with kids being home 24/7. Not being in school, there are a lot of emotions that are in the house all the time. So it can make you question, “do I know what I am doing”, “am I doing the right thing for my kids”.

An example of that was our 8-year-old daughter, she’s in 3rd grade, is very much a hands-on learner. The teacher that she had this year in 3rd grade was amazing. She did alternative kinds of learning activities in the class. She would give kids dry erase markers and they would do math on their desk, like what kid doesn’t love to have a marker and draw on their desk? She was such a great person for her and she thrived in her classroom. 

 

Then we went to online learning and it was awful. She just wasn’t thriving anymore and it was a fight to get her to do her classwork. Sometimes she’d want to do the Google Meet, sometimes she wouldn’t. My husband and I talked about it and I really battled internally, “this doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel good to keep having these battles with her, but she should still be doing her schoolwork.”

 

I finally made the decision and wrote to her teacher and said “Look I’m not going to push her anymore, we’ll do what we can, but we’re not going to push her to do her work”. Her teacher totally understood and was okay with that. That was an example of where I wasn’t really confident in what I wanted to do for my daughter. But when I made that decision, I knew it was the right decision.  I knew that that was the best thing for her. And it was! It’s been a challenge with her for sure. Everything that’s going on right now with our kids being with us all the time, can make it hard.

 

I don’t know if any of you have experienced similar things with your kids, asking am I doing the right thing right now and trusting that you’ve done that for yourselves and for your kids. If you’re not feeling good then your kids are feeling that. 

 

They need mom to be their rock, always, but especially right now. It’s also okay to let them know that you are not okay. That you’re struggling with something, or it’s been a hard day. I’m going to go out for a little bit and my girls are like “no, no I don’t want you to go”. You are like “I’m going! I gotta get out of the house. I gotta do something for myself.” 

 

Yes, all the mom guilt is there, but I know that if I go out, I’ll be a much better person, a much better mom, when I come back. That is certainly something that adds to confidence. Taking care of yourself.

 

Crissy Fishbane:

I couldn’t agree with that more. I know when I go out and get in a workout or just get out in nature there’s a big shift when I come back. And on that note we just had a question pop up in the chat, ‘What do you do when your confidence takes a hit? I find when something knocks me down, I tend to spiral. My thoughts keep knocking me down further. How do you shift out of that thought pattern? Do you have any tips or tricks?’

 

Renee Avis:

The really important thing, but it can be hard, is reminding yourself of what is important to you both for yourself and for you as a mom and your family. Your values. Reminding yourself of your self values and values for your family. 

 

Then also giving yourself a break and some grace. Saying, “Okay, this is really hard right now.” And naming out all the reasons that things are hard right now and what has changed. What was going well before, what is different now, and what has changed from how life was before you feel like you took that hit in your confidence? 

 

Helping you to recognize, “okay, I’ve noticed I start to feel less confident when these things start to happen.” So if you can, not necessarily pinpoint it exactly, but have an idea where it came from. There is something that made me start to question my confidence as a mom. 

 

Remind yourself what’s important to you and your family. Not getting caught up in whatever social media might be suggesting during that time. Yes, there might be some great ideas and tips in there, but they might not be what fits for you. That’s okay. You don’t have to listen to all the suggestions on social media. Sifting through that and finding what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. 

 

Crissy Fishbane:

I’m interested to know your thoughts on the things that people might sometimes think are kind of cheesy. Things like a mantra, or post-it notes on your bathroom mirror that you repeat every morning. Do you find that there are benefits to things like that? 

 

Renee Avis: 

Yes! When I’m working with my clients I tell them all the time to get a post-it note and put it on your mirror, in your kitchen, in your car. If it’s the same mantra or phrase that you like or maybe a couple different ones. 

 

You never know when you’re going to not feel so great and confident and need a little boost so those sticky notes can help for sure. I’ll even suggest a picture or a poem that you use as a screensaver on your phone or computer so that’s the first thing you see when you open those up. I know those can seem like cheesy things but they can be so helpful.

Cindi Michaelson:

Something that makes me very unconfident is questioning my parenting in general. We’re parenting very differently than my husband’s parents parented, and my parents parented. I grew up in an era that was more based on fear-based parenting, where you listen, wait until your dad gets home, you don’t talk back to your parents. A lot of times it was, I’ll give you something to cry about. I never used to yell at my parents or lash out and our kids do because we give them the space to allow for their feelings to come out. But, it makes me constantly second guess if my husband and I are doing it effectively. 

 

Renee Avis:

You’re not alone. It’s the same in our house. I’m fortunate that I didn’t come from that fear-based parenting with my family, but I know my husband’s family certainly did. He didn’t have a great childhood.

 

Our youngest daughter has a strong personality and definitely has her own opinion. She’s the one that will lash out the most and state her opinion. Yes, sometimes I doubt what we’re doing if it’s the right thing.

 

But, then I think about how she behaves in school and how she behaves when she’s with her friends or when she’s talking to my parents, that she’s respectful and she’s kind and so thoughtful. Home is her place to test all of that out, and learn to find her voice. I want them both to have a strong voice. Being able to test that out at home is important. And there are also limits to it as well,  she knows that she can only go so far and then it’s not a good thing at that point.

 

My other daughter is 11 and started middle school this year.  She’s always been the less confident one, not exactly sure of herself. But, she started volleyball this year, and she just thrives in that and has begun to find herself through that. We’ve dealt with the middle school stuff, and I helped her find her voice and I know when she gets snippy that it’s because something is not okay. And so helping her to say it rather than be snippy about it.

 

My other daughter will just tell you, I don’t have to worry about what’s wrong with her. Sometimes she’ll be hard and not want to say something. Home is their safe place. It’s their place to find their voice, to practice that and also to learn how far they can take that. Both girls will be snippy and then it starts to border on disrespectful and then we have that conversation. Like I know you are upset, and that’s okay that you’re upset and have all the feelings that you are having, but you’re getting to be disrespectful. That is not okay! That has to change.

 

Cindi Michaelson:

We have two strong-spirited children. They tend to battle each other too! That makes it hard to put out those fires. And then you’re nervous that they are going to talk to other neighbors the same way they talk to each other. Parenting is hard.

 

Renee Avis:

It is hard! I didn’t have any sisters, I had two brothers. So having the two of them and learning what this whole sister relationship is like has been an experience for me. They will battle it out and say some pretty hurtful and mean things but then five minutes later they are best friends again. I’m like, What just happened?

 

Cindi Michaelson:

Especially if they want something out of it. Like a TV show or something.

 

Renee Avis:

Yes! But again that is their way of learning how to argue and having home as a safe place to do it. I know they don’t do that with their friends. I know that’s not how they talk with their friends. Although my quieter daughter, she is the dead honest one. She’ll just let somebody know how she’s feeling and I’m sometimes like ugh. I would not say anything like that. But, she’s being honest, and there is nothing wrong with being honest. Sometimes I might have to say, “okay, try and say it this way next time”, so it comes across a little differently, but not changing the message of the honesty. She gets that from her dad!

 

Crissy Fishbane:

I’ve been thinking of a question in my head that kind of correlates to what you’re saying. I feel that a lot of women hesitate in conversation to be confident in what they have to say and the message they want to send out of fear of coming across, I’m going to just say it…as bitchy.

 

How would you navigate that fine line? Is it a fine line? There’s this whole ‘Men can be confident but it looks different on a woman’. I’d be interested in your perspective on that.

 

Renee Avis:

Well, I will be honest, and let you all know that I am not a confrontational person. So I get uncomfortable in those situations. That will always be a learning process for me because that’s just how I’m wired. I’m grateful for my therapy practice and training, that I kind of learned to navigate through that better than if I didn’t have that.

 

So, I think yes, there is that fine line where you can be bitchy and be off-putting to somebody. You can also argue that you’re just being honest and saying it how it is.  I think for that it’s more about your tone and how you say it versus the honesty piece. People may not like what you have to say, but you’re being honest. You’re not doing anything to hurt them or cause them any harm. They just don’t like what you’re saying. You’ve either hit on a truth or put something in a light that makes them uncomfortable. It’s finding a way to use your voice and speak out in a way that’s comfortable for you.

 

For me, it would be more about coming from a place of curiosity. Finding out what they think and then sharing my thoughts with them as I’ve gotten to better understand where they are. I will also say that as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more comfortable being upfront with people. I do think age is a factor. Kids too.  I would say yes to a lot of things before I had kids, but then I had kids and started saying no to things far more frequently.

 

Crissy Fishbane: 

I think the overriding theme I’m picking up on is honesty and authenticity. I feel like that’s been peppered through everything you’ve said. When you have those things you’re more apt to be confident.

 

Renee Avis: 

I just put a blog post out today on my website, Our Mom Tribe, on how to have a conversation with your kids and navigate conversations right now about the protests, Black Lives Matter, racism. It took me a little bit of time to write that.

 

The therapist in me can see all sides of a story which sometimes is great and other times I hate it and wish I could just turn that off. Not wanting to ruffle any feathers, but then I reached a place where I said you know, I might ruffle some feathers. I mean I didn’t write anything alarming or anything, but there might be a few things people don’t agree with.

 

But, it was authentic. It felt good for me. I knew that it sat with what I believe in and what’s important to me. That authentic and genuine piece is so important.

Participant:

I grew up in a house with a single mom. I was the youngest. My sister was very strong academically, and my brother was always messing up. Then I came along and I felt like in school the teachers were always waiting to see which of my siblings I was going to be like. Who was I going to measure up to? Confidence was not something that rang true for anyone in our house. I think it still doesn’t, especially with my mom and my sister, and those were the people I looked up to. I guess that’s something I’ve always struggled with. I’m more introverted. I’ve always had these voices kind of pulling me back. I’m afraid to speak out a lot of times because I’m afraid of sounding stupid. That I won’t be understood or heard. I think I grew up feeling very forgettable and I don’t want my kids to feel that way. I guess if you have any advice to rewire that. I think I’ve come a long way.

 

Renee Avis: 

Yes. I think it’s finding people, friends and family members that you feel comfortable having those uncomfortable conversations with.  And uncomfortable is what’s uncomfortable to you, not what’s uncomfortable to somebody else.

 

With your kids, trying to figure out what and how much you are going to share with your kids, because I really believe childhood is sacred and needs to have its innocence. That goes away so fast once they get older, but you also want them to know what’s happening right now.

 

I’ve been asking them, “what have you heard?” or “what’s on tik tok?” to open up that conversation with them to give them a voice so they can talk about it and know that they’re not being judged for asking. I think that’s probably the hardest thing with that confidence is feeling that you’re being judged by somebody else. So, if your kids get that from you, knowing that they can say what they want to say and be heard, that just builds that confidence. If somebody does judge them it doesn’t sting the same way if they have that confidence.

 

For you, I think listening to podcasts or finding a book you like that talks about confidence and being a mom. You’ll start to think, yes I can do that, or yeah that’s me! I think those can be great resources. Also, finding things that you enjoy doing can give you a dose of confidence too.

 

Confidence is not just “here, go do this and you’ll be a confident woman and a confident mom!” It’s a grey area. It involves finding what confidence means for you. What about it is important to you, and how you want that confidence to be a part of your day to day life.

 

Cindi Michaelson: 

It sounds like building your confidence is individual to everyone because everyone has had different wounds from growing up. So it’s essentially working through and finding ways to change that story.

 

Renee Avis:

For sure, it’s that negative message reel that you keep running through your head on a regular basis. Working on reframing that, either finding a positive to put up against it or doing fact check-ins, where you find facts that support you and don’t support this negative message that you keep hearing.

 

You know, your kids are happy and are doing well, if you’re a working mom. Yes, it’s crazy, but you are doing well in your job, these are the things you’re working on in your job. If you’re a stay-at-home-mom, you know I’ve got their schedules down and we’re staying on track with things. Again, you’re helping them how you want to help them with homework, friends, things like that. It’s definitely individualized.

 

Crissy Fishbane: 

Renee, we’ve talked about this with you a little bit before but can you just briefly dive into — I know every mom deals with this in some capacity — body confidence. Its impact, the role it plays on our children. How do we get it?

 

Renee Avis:

Yes! Again, being open with everybody I’m 43 and I feel like my body has changed so much this year. More than I’ve felt it ever has before. Not that I ever had firm abs, my stomach is really squishy these days. I know that I’ve gained a little bit of weight, part of that too is being so busy and I know I’m not able to be as active as I have been in the past. But, I also know that it’s aging. And that has shaken my body confidence a little bit.

 

But I am always reminding myself that my kids don’t love me or want to be with me because of my body. They love me and want to be with me because of who I am as their mom. The people who are important in your life and care about you and want to be with you, they’re not hanging out with you because of your body. They’re with you because of who you are as a person.

 

Another movement that is happening, and I think we’ve talked about it before, is the Health At Every Size movement, which shows plenty of research at this point that you cannot determine somebody’s health by looking at their body size or shape. Just because a person is a larger-bodied person does not mean that they are a lazy, bad person. Inside everything is working great, blood pressure is great, they can go and workout and do the activities they want.

 

I talk about that because I hope it will help people see and believe it doesn’t matter what size you are, that’s not what determines your health. Being able to appreciate what your body allows you to be able to do. I know that may be difficult for somebody that has chronic pain, that’s a whole other topic we could get into, but appreciating your body on a daily basis.

 

Participant:

Do you have any suggestions especially with raising girls on how to enforce body positivity? They’re obviously getting a lot from TV shows, magazines, and everything else. But, what can you do as a parent to emphasize that they look good, that it doesn’t matter what size they are? Growing up I had a lot of issues with that with my mom and I just don’t want to repeat the same things.

 

Renee Avis: 

With my 6th grade daughter, she started filling out this year in the middle. She started to get chunky. That is her body starting to prepare herself for puberty, which will be here soon. Sooner than I want it to.

 

But, she would make comments about not really liking her body, and for that, I would say, “Your body is doing exactly what it needs to do. Girls your age are going to get a little thicker in the middle because your body is getting ready for puberty.” Most girls get excited about the idea that they are going to go through puberty. She liked that part. Telling her that her body knows exactly what it needs to do and it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. If somebody is talking about your body then they are not the people you want to hang out with.

 

Both of my girls have at some point said, “My stomach is fat” and of course my heart stops and I think “No! We aren’t going down that road.” But asking them what they mean by that. What does that mean to you, because sometimes we can jump to conclusions that we think it’s one thing but it’s actually another thing for them.

 

Your body is built the way that it’s supposed to be built. Your body is going to look different from your friend’s body because that’s how her body is built. Pointing out to them that everyone has their own body type and that those body types aren’t meant to be changed.

 

My daughters have both said, “mom, you have a squishy stomach” and this is kind of the cliche, cheesy thing to say, but I say “ yes, I do. It’s because you were in there. My stomach took care of you and so it’s a little squishy now. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t have you.”

 

I will also say the book by American Girl Doll, The Growing Up Book – they have two books, one for the older girls and one for the younger girls. That has been a really good resource.

 

Crissy Fishbane:

We’ve talked about this topic before and I remember something you said was to be very mindful of how you speak to yourself when in front of your child. I feel like that’s a super important piece to this. Also, I know a lot of the moms here have younger kids, so how young do you start and what does that look like?

 

Renee Avis: 

Definitely. Your daughter is going to remember not what you look like, she’s going to remember how you talked about yourself. So many women I work with have told me things similar to that – My mom talked about how much she hated her body or how fat she was or she was on this diet and needed to lose weight. How you talk about yourself and your body —  know that your daughter is absolutely listening and going to remember.

 

Probably five and up is when they would start to remember comments that you’ve made.

 

No, we don’t always like our bodies every day. That’s okay, that’s normal. Your kids, boys too, don’t need to hear how much you don’t like your body or that you wish you could lose five or ten pounds. What they’re hearing and thinking is that they are a part of mom and so something must be wrong with them too. As they get older they can start to internalize information that way. They can also become afraid that they will get a body like mom’s body because she talks so negatively about it and they start engaging in behaviors to keep their bodies smaller.

 

Not talking negatively about your body. If your child says something about your body, you can use the “you were here” thing or “that’s just the way I’m built and your body is built the way it’s meant to be built.”

 

For the younger ones, it is not saying anything negative about your body. My mom never talked negatively about her body. She also didn’t say positive things about her body either. It was a very neutral environment, just because that’s who she is. That neutrality let me be very comfortable in my body.

 

So you don’t necessarily have to say a bunch of positive things either if that doesn’t feel comfortable for you.  The most important thing is avoiding negative statements. But you can certainly start as young as you want to say things like you love your body because your legs let you run and pump your body back and forth on the swings. You can certainly start that positive talk at a young age. And if they see something on tv that you see makes them uncomfortable just check in with them and ask them what they think about it. 

Confidence is not just “here, go do this and you’ll be a confident woman and a confident mom!” It’s a grey area. It involves finding what confidence means for you. What about it is important to you, and how you want that confidence to be a part of your day to day life.

- Renee Avis

Cindi Michaelson: 

Should we be cautious with the lack of diversity in children’s programming? My children are 7 and 10 and they like to watch Lego Friends and they have diversity in terms of skin color but they don’t have diversity in terms of body sizes. If you look at any type of cartoon there is not a lot of variation in body size. How do we navigate that?

 

Renee Avis: 

About two years ago, and I think I should have been so aware of this all along especially with the work that I do, but there was a speaker that I heard, and she’s a Health At Every Size speaker, a fat body woman, and she came and talked about how as a kid, when she watched TV, there weren’t any kids that looked like her.

 

It made her question if she was ok and if her body was ok.  I was a relatively small kid growing up so what I saw on a lot of TV shows and cartoons was a lot of what I looked like. When she said that I realized that is so true.  What you see on TV helps you to identify and get a sense of yourself.

 

So to answer the question, yes that is helpful, but we’re also limited because there’s not a lot of variety in body sizes.  I know my daughter at one point was on Barbie, she loved watching Barbie and I was like ugh! So I would talk to her and, I don’t remember how it would come up in conversations, but I’d say you know that’s not how everybody looks.  Everybody looks a little bit different.

 

I have actually, from I don’t know how young my girls were, talked to them about how what you see in magazines and what you oftentimes see on videos, that’s photoshopped.  That is not what people really look like. You’re not seeing the real person and the real body.  Having conversations with them about these things and letting them know that this isn’t what everybody really looks like.  There’s a lot of different people in the world.  So exposing them to the variety when you can and, when you can’t, have those little kid conversations with them about that.  Ask them what they think, Ask them what they think about everybody looking the same on the show.

 

Participant:

So, for me my concern about my daughter, who’s not even a year old yet so It’s nothing I’m going to be having a conversation about with her any time soon, but the biggest problem that I had when I was younger is peer pressure and you have to be confident with yourself and with who you are and your choices in order to not succumb to things like that.  And I know that’s a different type of confidence because it’s a confidence in fear of being rejected.  So rather than body confidence, how do you recommend parents teach their kids, girls in particular, how to overcome peer pressure?

 

Renee Avis:

Starting as early as you want to, talking about what are the things that are important to her, what are the things that make her happy, and you can use the television shows too.

 

I do this as well.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a cartoon or the real people actors, doing the shows, the kid’s shows, but talking to them about things like, do you think what that person did was ok or was nice?  And if they say no, because kids are usually pretty good at knowing what is okay behavior and what’s not okay, then talking to them like “hey what would you do if your friend said that to you?” or “what would you do if you saw somebody doing that to a friend of yours?”

 

Use the TV shows as much as you want to for examples because they really are safe life examples for kids that you can use as a learning experience.  You can talk about being respectful and nice and how that is important to our family. That Mom and Dad would never talk to you that way or treat you that way so why do you think it’s important for you to not treat people that way?

 

One of the things I talk about in a recent blog post, and I know I’ve talked about it before, is there is never a perfect way to talk about these things with your kids so just let them happen naturally.

 

I know for me it seems like when the girls get into bed is when all the questions come out and all the deep thoughts start happening and I’m like oh I just want to go to bed, but it’s important to them so I’m sure you’ll have those experiences with your daughter too as she gets older so embracing those moments when they happen with your kids. Does that help answer your question?

 

Participant:

Yes, that’s great. I honestly think about those conversations like sex-ed and things like that as productions, but it makes total sense to just slip it into a conversation when you see something on a TV show or movie, like hey, they did something that wasn’t very nice.  Would you do something like that?  No mama. You know, that sort of stuff.  It makes total sense to just pepper it in there and I know a lot of these conversations are not one time.  They are frequent and they’re small rather than one big one.

 

Renee Avis:

Yes.  Because your kids aren’t going to want to sit down and listen to a long lecture.  My husband likes to do that, but even I’m like Oh my Gosh are we done?  Because I know the girls, we lost them like ten minutes ago!  So it’s gotta be in small doses or they’re not going to stick around.

 

Participant:

On that note are there any books maybe that you recommend for different age children or young ones about, like I forget the name of it now, but there’s a great body confidence one that I wanted to buy, Her Body Can. It came out recently, but maybe there are some other ones too if there’s something you recommend.

 

Renee Avis:

I know there are books out there.  I just can’t think of anything for the really little kids at the moment, but if I think of anything I’ll share.

 

Participant:

Thank you.

 

Crissy Fishbane

Well, as we start to wrap up are there any other questions?

 

Participant:

I actually have one more. For Erica to answer your question about the books, I have a book for my daughter called Dear Girl that is super useful and absolutely beautiful and they have a girl version and a boy version and my daughter just absolutely adores it and it’s all about just being you and being who you are and embracing that.

 

Renee Avis:

And as you say that, there’s a book, it’s not about body confidence, but it’s called Each Kindness and it’s about a little girl who came to a school and she was new and wanted to be friends with these two girls and the one girl was more of a follower than a leader, but they teased her and they weren’t nice and then one of the girls, the follower, started to kind of think about that a little bit and then the new girl didn’t show up to school and she felt so guilty that she hadn’t been kind to her.   So that’s just a really good book about kindness and needing to be kind as soon as you meet someone because you never know when you might not see them again.

 

Participant:

So I did actually have a question and I’ve been struggling with this one recently, especially.  A couple of weeks ago my best friend’s niece was hospitalized for anorexia and her mom is just kind of shutting everyone out and I know that my best friend has always had a lot of body confidence issues.  She just got out of a very abusive relationship and I’m really struggling with how I can best be there for her.

 

Renee Avis:

Are you guys pretty good at talking with each other?

 

Participant:

No

 

Renee Avis:

I think the best thing you can do is say I don’t know what to do, but I want to help you so can you please let me know is there something, a way or something I can do to support you?

 

You just kind of take the awkwardness out of it. You want to help, but you don’t know how so just name it like I want to help you so can you just please help me know where I can meet you to do that?  So, yea I think that’s probably the best way to start it and I think that will open up a good conversation with her.

 

Participant:

I’ve been kind of checking in with her periodically, like how’s Thia, what’s going on? But, I never really know how to respond.  It’ just “Oh, it’s not really going well” and so I just highlight that she’s surrounded by people trying to help her.

 

Renee Avis:

You could probably ask your best friend, “I know it’s really hard for the family, but is there one thing that is really hard for you? Is there one thing that you’re really struggling with?”

 

Participant:

That’s a really good idea.

 

Renee Avis:

And tell her I’d rather know than not know.  I actually said that to my good girlfriend the other day because she’s had a horrible month of work.  She’s in HR and dealing with this global pandemic and I asked her how she was doing and she gave me this short answer.  Then she texted back and was like I’m sorry, you shouldn’t have heard that and I was like I would rather know than not know what’s going on with your day.

 

So that could be a couple of things to start from and go from there.  I always find being curious with somebody gets you so much further or connected with them than asking what questions or why questions.  Being curious is certainly a great way to go about that.

 

Cindi Michaelson:

Renee, as always, it’s been such a joy to have you to talk to us this evening.  Was there any final thought you have to share with everyone?

 

Renee Avis:

Finding that way to believe in yourself because when you believe in yourself you feel genuine about the things you’re doing for yourself and your family, for your kids.  It’s pretty hard to shake that, not that it doesn’t get shaken.

 

I’m a confident person and mom, but I get shaken too.  I mean, I’ve certainly been shaken recently with everything going on in the world.  If you’ve got that solid place you come from, you can always come back to that and remind yourself that these are the things that are important to me and it doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks because I know what’s best for myself and my family.   Giving yourself grace and being patient with yourself and being genuine are certainly really important things.

 

Cindi Michaelson:

Thank you so much.  It’s been a joy.

 

Renee Avis:

Yes, thank you for having me on and I’ll be happy if anyone else has questions you can always go to my website.  My email’s there and you can shoot me a questions and I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions or give suggestions.

 

Crissy Fishbane:

Thank you, Renee.  Thank you, ladies!

Renee Avis received her BA in Psychology from George Mason University. A little more than a year after graduating from GMU, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she began working on her Masters in Counseling from Argosy University. For more than 15 years she has worked in treatment facilities and private practice fulfilling her passion as a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. Through her years of working experience and life as a mother of two girls, she has come to truly understand how important taking care of yourself is, especially when you are a Mom.

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