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The relationship we have with our mother shapes us into the person we become later in life. For those of us who were raised by a strong mother, her influence helped us to grow in more ways than one.

Growing up, I always knew my mother was cut from a different cloth. She has always been strong, never backing down from anything. For every obstacle life threw her-she always got the last punch. At the time, I didn’t always appreciate her strength. I admired it, but as a child, that kind of strength can be intimidating. “Will I be able to fill those shoes?” you may ask yourself. I am glad to say that while no one will ever be the woman my mother is- her influence helped me to become who I am today.

Here are 9 things you learn by being raised by a strong woman.

1. Always stand up for what you believe in.

My mother was and is always the person who will say how she feels, even if it isn’t the popular opinion. I remember being in church and my mother standing up during Sunday school and telling the people who ran it that they needed to get their act together. Everyone in the Sunday school group looked at her like she was crazy-in reality, she was trying to tell them they need to practice what they preach, quite literally.

2. Never tolerate disrespect.

Throughout my life, I saw my mother get disrespected occasionally. But I assure you-she did not take it sitting down. She always demanded respect, and if she didn’t get it- she didn’t stick around to be treated like garbage.

3. Always question everything.

It might not be the most popular stance to take, but my mother always encouraged me to question everything. In school, I oftentimes would get in trouble for asking questions of my teachers, principals, etc., and when I did – as long as I was being respectful, my mother would always defend me. Let me be clear: my mother would NEVER allow me to disrespect anyone. However, she did teach me to never blindly follow anyone.

4. Never stop trying.

Every time an obstacle knocked my mother down, she got back up and tried again. Every obstacle that was meant to break her only made her stronger. And I pray to God that I always follow in her footsteps.

5. Never become dependent on anyone.

It’s okay to let your guard down and to love, but always, always have the plan to save yourself if you must. My mother always knew her next move, and she made something of herself without a lot of guidance on how.

6. Always choose kindness.

No matter what-my mother is always kind to others unless they give her a reason not to be. She would go out of her way to do something nice for someone else. She was always considerate and was always volunteering her time to do the right thing when others would not.

7. Stand up for those who cannot defend themselves.

When I was in school, I remember a little boy who was developmentally disabled getting beat up. No teachers would do anything about it- because they were all friends with the bully’s parents. My mother encouraged me to take up for him if I witnessed it again. And I did. The bullies kept kicking the boy in his arm, and groin, and I did the same to the bullies as they walked by. The teacher actually began scolding ME- even though I was defending that boy. It just so happened that my mom was walking up to pick me up from school, and she witnessed nearly all of it- including the teacher telling me I should NEVER get in the middle of where I didn’t belong. My mom told the teacher that I was ALWAYS allowed to take up for kids that were being bullied. Say what you will- but that lesson has always stuck in my mind.

8. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

The Golden rule was a big thing in our house. I remember grumbling because I wanted to treat people how they treated me- but my mom was right. You should never compromise your personal values because other people are assholes.

9. Never fold on your beliefs to impress others.

Above all, no matter how much flack my mom would receive-she never folded on her beliefs. She always stands up for what she knows in her heart. And thank God for that.