JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

June 1, 2023

I have several phrases I regularly tell my children at bedtime. A few of those are:

“I’ll always love you no matter what.”, “I’m grateful to be your Mom.”, and “I always wanted you.”

When parents talk down to their children, those children learn to talk down to themselves. As adults, those children can learn to talk positively to themselves, but it’s a process that takes determination to accomplish. It doesn’t come easy.

But what if parents spoke lovingly and positively to their children? You guessed it, most of those children will grow up with positive self-talk. And if I can help my children live their lives knowing they are loved, wanted, and worthy, I’m hoping to set them up for a life filled with success – however they define it. 


My children are two of my greatest teachers. Being their mom has taught me more than my years of formal education. My children gave me strength when I thought I couldn’t move mountains. My children gave me hope when I felt despair. And my children taught me survival is so much more than having food and shelter. They taught me to survive, you also need love and connection.

About four years ago, I found myself in a position where I was struggling to survive. I didn’t know why my life had become so chaotic, but I knew I had to find a way to overcome the challenges I faced. My original reason was to provide my children with a peaceful environment to grow up in. But as time went by – and my therapist gently pushed me – I began to realize I also wanted to find peace for myself. And I did. I couldn’t help but think of that moment in my life when I read the following quote in Anna Malaika Tubbs’s book, The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation:

“What is most revelatory in the lives of these three women was their ability to push against, break down, and step over each and every challenge that came their way. They saw themselves and their children as being worthy of life, worthy of rights, and worthy of grace.”

While I may not have faced the immense challenges Alberta, Louise, and Berdis did, I can see myself in that quote. By loving their children and remaining determined, they survived in a world that tried to destroy them. They survived by standing up to injustice in their own way. And they raised children who changed the world.

I plan to do the same.

As Rupi Kaur wrote in Home Body,

“the need to survive
lit a fire in me.”