After watching the new movie “The Help”, I began reflecting on my role as a mother. For most mothers who have stable, healthy mind frames our only desire is to be the best and provide the best for our babies. It is a great responsibility that overwhelms and overjoys all at once.There is a scene in the movie where the nanny teaches a chunky, child (who is rejected by her mother due to her weight) daily affirmations. ” I is kind. I is intelligent. I is important”. I can only imagine how effective and needed that daily practice is for all young girls growing up in a society where they are constantly bombarded with images of what beauty and success is for a woman. Our daily interactions are always molding our daughters. I decided to make a list of common occurrences that we should pay close attention to when raising our daughters.
Never Compliment One Without Complimenting the Other
I don’t know how many times I have heard or seen this scenario play out. There are two sweet girls playing together. They are related or best friends. One is a deep chocolate brown while the other is a smooth honey toffee. One has long braids that with the weight of her barretts fall to her shoulders while the other girl has shorter hair reaching up to the sky in exploding pig tail puffs. Along comes a stranger, “Oh may goodness! Isn’t she just a doll baby? Her hair is just gorgeous and so long! She’s so pretty! What’s her name? How old is she? She your daughter?” The innocent girls are taken out of the protection of play and thrown into our sick world. One child is exalted while the other is completely ignored. They are both being taught who is more valuable and deserving of attention and admiration and and who isn’t. This goes for weight and race as well. Let’s stop this now. Never practice this and never allow a stranger or loved one to teach these lies to your baby girl. Kindly ask that he or she not compliment one without doing the same for the other or simply refrain from saying anything at all.
Never Ignore Your Daughter’s Admittance of Her Insecurities
When your daughter comes home from school one day and has tears in her eyes because she said some one called her “fat”, “nappy”, “ugly”, “stupid” etc never just wave it away with “Oh don’t pay them any mind. They are just jealous”. We can all remember the true pain and betrayal that occurred in us as children when someone made us aware of something negative about ourselves that we had never even fathomed. Take time out to really talk to your daughter about how that made her feel. Does she believe it’s true? From that day forth make a ritual of daily affirmations with her that counter the false belief that others have put in her mind. “My hair is beautiful and I love it”. “I am intelligent”. “My body is strong and healthy”. We should teach our daughters to know the truth about themselves and be able to return to it independently.
Remind Her Where True Self- Esteem Originates
With all the constant bombardment of the external, it is easy for an impressionable, young girl to believe that her appearance determines her self esteem level. Let’s teach our daughters that although taking good care of ourselves is important, true self-esteem comes from setting and achieving goals in life. Help her to set goals at a young age such as learning to tie her own shoes, making her own bed, learning another language, braiding her own hair, making all A’s in her studies etc and truly reward her for achieving those goals. She will soon understand the real fulfillment and confidence that comes from such feats in comparison to the temporary rush of a new hairstyle and wardrobe.
What do you do to build your daughters self-esteem? Comment and share!