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I am kind of new to this self-love thing. I’m a child of divorce and have struggled with self-esteem and anxiety my entire life. I’m sure many people can relate.

I’ve heard it said before that having a kid won’t solve your problems, it will only magnify them. Meaning, if you were a jerk before kids, then you’ll still be a jerk after kids—and maybe you’ll become an even bigger jerk as you hover over your special snowflake at recess. If you were unhappy before kids, then you’ll still be unhappy after kids when you realize that they don’t actually make your life complete as all of your Facebook friends claim.

But there is a brighter side to this depressing picture, a new reality that I’m just figuring out for myself. When I became a mother, all of my issues got even bigger. I was even more anxious. I was even more insecure. I felt even guiltier about every little thing that I did or didn’t do for my new baby. I was even more terrified about screwing up this blank slate of a kid that had been given to me.

I have spent the past two years as a mother thinking about what I want to rub off on my kid. As a baby grows into a toddler and starts to mimic everything you do, it becomes evident that they are going to be influenced by your morals, your beliefs, and your attitude. Sure, your toddler will one day grow into adult and have to make decisions for himself, but until that day, you will be his number one example.

All of these ideas are nothing new in the parenting community: Teach by your actions and not by your words. But it’s not until you find yourself in the situation of watching a little person look up to you and scrutinize every move that you make that you realize—SHIT, I really am his role model.

I have to qualify this by saying that I don’t have daughters; I have two sons. But I don’t think that matters one bit when it comes to instilling self-confidence and self-worth in a kid. Men suffer from low self-esteem just as much as women, in my humble opinion. Women may make their issues more obvious in the way that they dress and personal struggles with body image. I know this firsthand because I have dealt with an eating disorder myself.

As I look at my son and see that he is looking up to me, I realize that my self-love is the most important thing. This sounds incredibly cheesy, but it must be said. It all goes back to the old example of putting on your own oxygen mask first during a plane crash before you attempt to help those around you—even small children.