Friday April 10, 2020
I always promised myself that I’d never use 'that' type of language around my kids.
You know the words I’m talking about: diet, losing weight, being fat, not being thin enough, good enough, smart enough,… enough.
I was going to do it differently than my mom did. I was going to teach my kids that they need never diet, that they were beautiful and amazing, and that they deserved to love themselves.
Self-worth. Yeah, self-worth was what I was going to teach them.
But then one day, my youngest son came to me in tears. He was worried about his weight and asked me to help him “get in shape”. At just 10 years old, he was disappointed with his body, and felt he was not strong enough, lean enough, good enough.
How had this happened? I had been so careful with my words. I had poured words of love and worth into all of them. Where did I go wrong?
And then it hit me.
My mother had done all the same things with me. She had told me I was beautiful. I don’t know if she ever used the word “diet” in our house. But I knew what she believed about herself.
I saw it in the way she dismissed my father’s compliments. I saw it in how she grimaced at herself in the mirror. I saw it in the way she skipped out on pool time with us.
I suppose I never believed her words. Instead, I saw how she lived, and I mimicked her behavior. I took on her thoughts.
And now, I was doing that exact same thing with my own kids.
This realization sent me to work on myself, but in a new way. I started doing mindset work to change the thoughts I had about myself, to build up my self-image, and to believe things about myself that I wanted to MODEL for my kids.
I stopped telling my kids that they should love themselves, and I started showing them what that looked like. That meant showing up at the pool in my swimsuit and smiling and laughing and playing. It meant looking in the mirror and learning to like the woman looking back, being kinder to her, thinking better of her. It meant accepting compliments, letting my husband hug me, enjoying dessert if I wanted to, and telling the mean girl in my head that she had to go.
It’s simple work, but it’s not easy. Those old messages of “not enough” still show up every once in awhile, and I’m tempted to believe them. But I’m not just doing this work for me. I’m doing it so that my kids won’t grow up thinking they’re supposed to hate their bodies, or put themselves down, or dismiss their worth. I want them to think it’s ok to own their awesomeness. And I want them to raise their kids to do the same.
So I’m showing them how.
I’m changing my mind, one thought at a time, and it’s helping me change my kids’ lives.