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By Hanley Foundation Prevention Specialist Michella Daniel

On January 10, 2013, at the age of 37, I became a mom to a beautiful daughter named Darielle.  It was an interesting dynamic, considering I lost my mom in 2008 who was very influential in my life.  I loved her dearly.  However; she still managed to give me advice without even knowing it.  Till this day, I glean from the wisdom she and my dad instilled in myself and my siblings.   Our family’s foundation was built on the faith that shaped our views and how we conducted ourselves and lived our lives.  As children, we were very much loved and cared for.  I have been able to lean on those values of prayer and the love of God to help me navigate, especially through the difficult times in my parenting journey.  I can say that one of the most valuable pieces of advice that my mom gave me as a child was that it was ok to be different.  I was encouraged to be who I was and not to follow the crowd.  I live my life that way even now.  My husband and I are also instilling that in our daughter.  It is important to us that she realizes that she is enough and does not have to be validated by other people.

Parenting is truly a juggling act.  One of the hardest things that I have discovered about being a parent is the importance of having a balanced life that includes prioritizing the things that are of importance to you.  After the birth of my daughter, the relationship I had with my dad blossomed even more so than before.  He gave me advice about making decisions about what is important and what is not.  He also helped me balance my relationships by advising me to not allow others to disturb my peace.  Now that he is deceased, I often think about how he was such a great leader who loved and valued our family and was willing to do whatever it took to ensure that we were provided for.  Also, I will never forget how he was an entrepreneur and yet still took time to do daddy-daughter dates with my sister and me, even if it consisted of lunch together and going on service calls with him.  A lesson that I can now appreciate from him is that the act of spending time and making your child feel special build memories that can last a lifetime.    

In more recent years, my sister has been a tremendous source of strength to lean on as it relates to parenting.  She is the mother of 7 children, that includes two sets of twins.  She has been teaching me about embracing Darielle’s personality and makeup and how to make sure that I am cultivating her in the right areas in order to help shape her future based on her destiny.  She also is teaching me to pick my battles.  I must admit, I am still a work in progress.  Another valuable bit of advice that she constantly reminds me of is the importance of self-care and how it makes me more valuable as a mother and wife when I am properly cared for.  In addition, she demonstrates through her dealings with her children the importance of showing love and spending one on one time with each of them.  Lastly, thanks to my sister, I am learning to watch my words when it comes to speaking to and about Darielle, especially when it comes to things that I see or am experiencing that may not seem favorable in dealing with my daughter.  I am still in the school of learning in each of these areas but, I am thankful for having key people in my life who were and are willing to help me along the way.