20 Mar daughters and body image, part 2
Last fall I wrote about the challenges of raising daughters (and sons) with a healthy body image. What I learned: You can’t shield your kids from all the negative messages out there about how they “should” look, but you can teach them to filter those messages. You can help them to love themselves even when TV commercials or celebrities or magazines claim they have some flaw that needs fixing.
More than that, though, you can learn to love your own body more than you currently do. Kids mirror their parents. They follow our lead.
If you struggle with your own body image, check out the article I wrote for Experience Life magazine about how to rebuild it. I’d love it if you commented and shared it with friends.
One last thing I wanted to point out from my research, which didn’t appear in the article: I talked with a dozen leading psychologists/psychiatrists/body image experts and one thing they all pointed out: Young people who struggle with eating disorders typically have a broken relationship with at least one parent (often the father).
It makes sense. Parents are the mirror. If the mirror has cracks, then the kids will not get an accurate reflection of themselves.
That’s not a slam against dads or single parents. It’s not to say that if you argue with your teenage daughter she’s doomed to have an eating disorder (and yes, I know eating disorders are about much more than food and body image).
As with most journeys toward health and healing, the first step is acknowledging there’s a problem. To me, it’s more of a call to awareness. A call to slow down and make sure my kids feel heard, nurtured and accepted by me and Kris. And a call to take time to shore up my own self esteem so that it’s reflected back to them…not an easy task when I’m sleep deprived or overworked or stressed.
But then again, I notice the things I am most reluctant to do when I’m stressed and tired are just the things to pull me out of the dark cloud: Go outside. Breathe. Say or think self-compassionate thoughts. Go for a walk. Exercise. Eat something healthy that will give me energy. Turn off the computer and play on the floor with the kids.
Start small, and realize you have more influence than you think you do.