Should We Raise Them Differently?
It’s the norm for society to insist on raising our daughters to behave one way and our sons to behave another. But why? It’s totally unacceptable. I have never understood this mentality, and it’s even more baffling now that I have one of each of my own. How are we supposed to raise confident children that are capable of acceptance and empathy with that mindset? Is that even possible? Why are we raising boys and girls differently?
Body image is one area where I feel this is especially unacceptable. We as mothers are becoming so much more aware of what we say in front of our daughters about our bodies, but we still have so much work to do. But at the same time, aren’t our sons listening as well? What are they hearing? We all have things we dislike about our bodies and negative self talk is so easy…but it has to stop.
Always Listening…And Then Repeating
My hips and back pop and crack ever since having children, and I’ll say “these kids ruined my body!” in a joking manner. It’s true though, pregnancy really wreaks havoc on the body, and you feel it years later. I have the crunchy sounds to prove it. In its true meaning, it was harmless, but it is actually saying more than I realized.
Off playing on his own, not listening…or so I thought, my son chimes in with “we’re ruining her life.” I was talking to a friend about how a particular style didn’t compliment my body well because of my lack of boobs since nursing. His take on it was he was ruining my life. Never once has that been said that but it’s how he interpreted a silly comment at the ripe old age of 4. They’re listening. Always listening…especially when we don’t want them to be! Ha!
What Am I Teaching My Daughter?
Things have changed with my body since having children and it’s okay to recognize that, but what is that saying to my daughter when I complain about it? It’s priming her at a very young age to find faults in herself, and that will pick away at her precious confidence and self-worth. I want to raise a strong woman and you can’t have that without any confidence. Those school aged years are hard as hell and there were times that flat out sucked. Unknowingly dumping our own insecurities on top of all that isn’t helping any.
Girls are mean and being a kid is hard. Let’s not make it harder for them by teaching them how to cut down their budding self-esteem. They learn from us! They listen to everything we say and do. I praise my daughter for all things about herself because I want her to have the most inflated self-worth possible. She’s worth that and deserves to hear such things! But I don’t do that for myself. Why not? Do as I say and not as I do? Believe as I say and not as I think? That sounds pretty damn confusing.
I want my daughter to eventually find a man that will want to take care of her but also realize she doesn’t need to be. I want her to know that she is her own hero and can do anything she decides she wants to. To know life isn’t what others tell her it is, and to make it what she wants it to be.
What Are My Words Saying to My Son?
When I complain about my body appearance, what does that say to my son? Is it that it’s acceptable to have unreasonable expectations as to what a girl or woman should look like? Am I teaching him what beauty is supposed to look like, and that as his mother, I am not the picture of beauty? How is he going to treat girls and women as he grows if that’s what I’m teaching him now?
He has a fierce level of protection for his sister already, and it’s something I love dearly about him because that’s primal and not something you can teach. So this tells me he won’t let others say such things to his sister, but will he know enough not to say it to others? If not, I’ll have failed him.
I want my son to find a woman who believes in herself and isn’t afraid to march to the beat of her own drum. I want him to be challenged by a strong woman that will keep him on his toes, forcing him to continually strive to do better. To know he doesn’t deserve something just because he wants it.
Know Better So We Can Do Better
Our children see enough crap on television and magazines. I want my son and my daughter to know that beauty isn’t what society has set as a standard. I want my daughter to be confident in herself as she grows into a woman and I want my son to be the man that knows exactly what beauty is. I want them both to know it’s not a number on a scale, perfect body proportions and perky boobs. Beauty is confidence in yourself and knowing YOU are in complete control of how great you are. Beauty is having an open mind and knowing we are all different. How boring would it be if we were all the same? Our imperfections are what make us perfect and beautiful.
Never in a million years did I think that tiny statement of “they ruined my body” would mean “we’re ruining your life” in the eyes of my sweet boy. The same sweet boy that made me a mother and changed everything about my life. That’s not even a statement that exists in my life, yet it’s something I’ve led him to believe. Becoming a mother has been a challenge but they’re my everything and I wouldn’t change a thing…except maybe a little less hip cracking would be nice.
Our children are listening. Our sons and our daughters are listening. What do you want them hearing?
Find me on Facebook and tell me what you’re doing to make a difference to change this mentality. It takes a village!