Raising children in this day and age can seem scary. The world has gone crazy, I am convinced. I regularly have long conversations with my mom and separate conversations with my dad about how terrified I am to have my kids grow up in a world that values appearance and money over spirit and relationships. The world seems so shallow. I often wonder how I am going to guide my daughter through, or rather right past, some of the self esteem traps that will inevitably come her way.
I want her to know that beauty has nothing to do with appearance. Nothing. A pretty face will only get you so far. And she’s gorgeous. How the hell am I going to teach her that she doesn’t have to put blonde stripes in her hair, and nail polish on her nails, and make up all over her face in order to be beautiful? I find it so exhausting, more than the so called “mommy wars,” the “beauty wars.” Women and even men blaming their lack of confidence on the media. Why are models skinny? Because it sells the clothes. The clothes you buy. It isn’t the media’s fault, they’re giving the general public exactly what the general public is asking for. The number one influence on a little girl’s self esteem is her mother, and her mother’s example and self esteem. Passing the buck to blame the media is giving our power away as mothers. Nurture your daughter, and set the example by loving yourself, growing and bettering yourself, building YOUR self esteem by being a better person every single day. Don’t blame others, don’t blame the media… that shows children that they are not in control of their destiny, that everyone else is. True beauty comes in giving, compassion, and service. Not only what you do for others, but what you do for yourself. I want her to know that no one will respect her, no one, until she has respect for herself. The “woe is me” mentality isn’t attractive, and isn’t self serving, and only attracts more “woe is me” people into your life. It holds you back from achieving, growing, and becoming your true and best self. Seeking attention for your sorry life pushes people away. While shining as bright as you can, pushing yourself to be a better person in whatever way suits you, will enable others to do the same for themselves, and thus you will be surrounded by amazing people.
I want her to know that just because someone seems nice and is pretty doesn’t mean they are. That trusting others isn’t a fault until you have been shown time and time again that they don’t deserve your trust or friendship. Trusting easily isn’t a fault. Refusing to see darkness when someone has turned the lights out on you time and time again is. Back to the “once… shame on them, twice, shame on me. Three times, time to go.” When you eliminate anything negative from your life you make room for more positive. There is no two ways about it. That’s how the world and universe work. The most effective way to have a great life is to do selfless and wonderful things for others. When you put a smile on someone else’s face, you’ll get ten in return. Karma: not so far fetched, is it? When it comes time to date, a boy who nurtures her and supports her in taking care of herself and her needs and aspirations, is the kind of boy who deserves her. Not a boy who owns, suffocates and needs her beyond a healthy level. A boy who knows beauty is more than skin deep and that looks eventually fade. A boy who values her opinion and finds value in her strength and intelligence. A boy who will support her in her endeavors, because she is separate from him, no matter how much they have in common. No one will love her, truly love her, until she loves herself. I want her to know that continuing or discontinuing any relationship with anyone is up to her. Not anyone else, not even the other person. And I want her to watch out for clingy friends, and those who will take advantage of her selflessness. Because they’re out there, waiting like vultures.
I want her to know that feeding her brain is as important as feeding her belly. That intelligence doesn’t necessarily happen within confined walls of a so-called “school.” That every day you get out of bed is a day to learn something. That not everyone learns in the same ways, and that there isn’t one right way to learn or be smart. A high school diploma doesn’t make you smart. A college degree doesn’t make you smart. Problem solving and perseverance, common sense and drive, go a hell of a lot further than a degree. Without the debt. Of course I will support her in whatever education decisions she makes for herself, but I will never lead her to believe she is better than anyone who makes different decisions than her, nor condemn her for making what decisions she wants for herself.
I want her to know that health comes in taking care of your body from the beginning. That eating healthy whole foods, and avoiding processed chemical-laden foods, is the best thing she can do. I want to teach her to trust her body, that it was designed to do exactly what it needs to, as long as she takes care of it. That getting sunshine and fresh air, exercise and rest are more important than getting checked out by a doctor. But that there may be a time and place where a doctor is needed. I want to teach her that she is the sole person in charge of her body and her decisions regarding it. I am not going to make any decisions for her, only give her the information I have and the beliefs I have regarding it. She gets to make the final decisions in what she does and the decisions she makes, and the consequences or benefits are a result of her decisions. Of course this is barring medical necessity and life-saving decisions I hope to never have to make on her behalf.
I want her to know she has the freedom to choose any or no religion based on her core beliefs. I will teach her that there is no wrong or right religion. That acceptance and tolerance are not masked under the name of any religion, nor is right or wrong. There is an intrinsic goodness innate to every human being, and just because their path is different than hers doesn’t make them any more or less a deserving or righteous person. But that their actions, not their words, are what make them worthy. That respect and tolerance for others, serving others, and bettering yourself do not require a religion nor do they automatically come to those who are part of a religion. Any religion. A good person is a good person. Not to be confused with obvious evil and darkness which are a part of life. But if it weren’t for darkness and evil, we wouldn’t know goodness when we see it. Yin and yang.