This week we welcome to the blog a author of the new book, The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents, Marci Warhaft-Nadler.
We don’t have to be perfect, to be perfect role models for our kids. In fact, it’s better if we’re not perfect and can teach them how important it is to love and accept ourselves without judgement.
How many times have you lectured your kids on the importance of inner beauty, between sips of a diet cola or spoonfuls of fat free pudding? How many times have you assured them of the importance of not following the crowd, while you yourself were following a diet program on the advice of a girlfriend or some celebrity you saw raving about it on TV? Let me give it to you straight: Your kids are less interested in what you’re saying and more interested in what you’re doing. And believe me, they are watching. Long gone are the days of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Most kids are in a hurry to grow up. When they’re 8 they want to be 10, when they’re 10 they want to be 16 and when they’re 16 they want to be 21. Lucky for us, there’s nothing they can do to speed up the aging process, but they will however do their best to act as if they can. On their quest for maturity, they will try to emulate the adult with the most influence in their life, and that, my friends, is you. It’s been proven that young women are most influenced by their friends and their mothers. What this tells us is that we have the opportunity to reach our kids in ways we may not even realize. I am a firm believer in the importance of honesty. However, when it comes to how we feel about our bodies, it’s okay to lie when in front of our kids. This is what’s called, “Lying with love”.
These days, it’s become a national pastime to criticize every flaw and imperfection we can find in ourselves. It seems okay to complain about our stomachs that aren’t flat enough and our hips that are way too wide. But, in actuality, it’s not okay. I believe that how a woman views herself in front of her kids has an enormous impact on how her kids will eventually view themselves. Most women think nothing of patting their tummies with a sigh of regret or criticizing their food choices. This has to change. Like it or not, when a daughter sees her mom judging herself and ultimately knocking herself for being too fat, she will internalize what she’s seeing and in turn, will look at herself with the same overly critical eyes that will only become more critical and judgmental as she gets older.
This is where “Lying with love” comes in. The next time you’re feeling fat, keep it to yourself. The next time you find yourself starting to comment on the thighs you find too thick, try instead to appreciate them for the strength they give you to keep up with your kids when they’re running around. The next time your arms seem too soft and jiggly, remind yourself of all the things they need to lift, pull and push throughout the day and how amazing those arms feel to your kids when they reach for a hug. If you make an effort to alter the messages you tell yourself in their presence, it’ll eventually become common practice.
The best part about this exercise is that the more positive reinforcement you give yourself for the benefit of your
children, the more you’ll start to believe it yourself. We all want our kids to grow up loving and appreciating themselves for who they are, so we’re going to have to show them how it’s done. Telling our daughters they’re loved is important, teaching them how to love themselves is crucial.
Self-worth shouldn’t be measured in pounds.