Kerry Washington inspires women each week in her role as empowered leader Olivia Pope in ABC’s Scandal. But, even though she’s not a mama on screen, Washington says some of Pope’s qualities have made a positive impression on her parenting—especially in the ways she teaches her children, Isabelle and Caleb, the importance of loving themselves just the way they are.

That’s something Washington practices at home by wearing her natural hair, which she hopes sends a positive message to her children.

“For me, loving yourself and accepting yourself is not a destination... It’s my job to keep returning to the truth that I am lovable and capable and deserving,” Washington told TODAY Parents. “You want to make sure you’re modeling self-love and unconditional self-love. I love myself no matter what way I choose to wear my hair that day.”

Teaching kids self-love is pivotal in how they begin to form ideas and thoughts on what love really means, both with themselves and others. Because your little ones pick up on how you behave, showing rather than telling can be the most effective way to get this message across—and that carries out through romantic relationships, too.

“How can I love my partner more and have more respect for my partner? It’s being that; it’s doing that,” she said.

Why empowerment is more important than ever

In a time where the world can be a scary place, Washington is passionate about empowering her daughter right now.

“The most important thing we can do as women to empower our daughters is to do the homework on ourselves,” she said. “What we do is more important than what we say. You can say to a child they have to love themselves. But until you can embody that truth and live it, what you’re saying is much less important.”

Beyond that, Washington is ensuring mamas everywhere are uplifting one another by providing each other with support, stopping mommy-shaming and embodying equality. If we can teach our daughters to do this now—and practice self-love—then they can carry it out through future generations.