Laila Ali is a world-class athlete who retired from professional boxing with an undefeated record. She’s also a mother, a passionate cook, and entrepreneur who will be featured on the new “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2017. She founded LailaAliLifestyle.com in 2015 as a “holistic health, fitness, and wellness blog to inspire people to take control of their health and well-being,” she said.
Parent.co was interested to hear Ali’s perspective on motherhood in the limelight and maintaining a healthy self-esteem.
Parent.co: What do you see as the three most important characteristics or qualities you try to instill in your kids?
Laila Ali: It’s tough to narrow it down to just three, but a few characteristic that are high on the list are confidence, humility, and having faith.
As a former professional athlete, how do you talk to your kids about balancing a healthy competitive spirit with good sportsmanship?
I encourage my kids to work hard and do their absolute best. We will win some and lose some, but when you know you did your best, you can feel good about yourself and be free of regret. Then you use your losses to your advantage by focusing on how to get even better. I teach my kids that falling short sometimes is a part of a necessary process that leads to greatness.
One could easily assume that a woman who retired from her athletic career undefeated has never questioned herself, yet so many women struggle with confidence and maintaining a sense of personal purpose outside of motherhood. Have you ever wrestled with that sort of self doubt and, if so, how did you overcome it? If not, how did you maintain your confidence?
I feel that all people have had self doubt at one time or another, including myself. But it’s how you deal with it and overcome it that sets each person apart. My mindset keeps things in perspective and always leads me in the right direction; I believe self doubt is part of the self discovery process.
When I doubt myself, I rely on my confidence and prove to myself that I can do anything I desire if I put in the time and focus needed to be successful. I don’t sit around, sulk, and have negative thoughts. Instead, I get to work and show myself how powerful I truly am.
Being a mom is my most important and most cherished responsibility. But naturally I have many goals and desires that are very separate from motherhood. Finding balance is a constant struggle, but I manage because there is a driving force in me that never dies. We all have to believe in ourselves and have faith. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others because we are all on different paths. Focus on your own journey and you will be off to the right start.
Do you have any thoughts to offer other stepparents regarding family unity?
Family unity starts in your heart. As adults, we must realize that children are effected by the choices we make and how we interact with them. What most kids need is love and support, regardless of whether they are your own or not. So when you choose to marry someone who has children, you must be ready to commit to putting your love and energy into their children as well.
Finally: you’re a public figure. How do you think/hope your kids will come to understand our culture’s notion of celebrity and fame? What are you doing to help determine this for them?
I don’t really have a concise plan in place for my kids as of yet. It really depends on how much they naturally determine on their own through their experiences and I will fill in along the way. But I do downplay “celebrity” and explain to my children that people recognize me because of the work I do on TV. I tell them even though people get excited sometimes, it’s no big deal. I don’t want them to give it too much energy and feel being recognized adds value to our lives in superficial ways.
As they get older they will understand why their grandfather is so loved, respected, and worthy of being someone to look up to.