My Daughters Self Image
Teenagers are equally challenging. As a matter of fact, there’s a reason children are born as babies and not as teenagers – new parents have to first adjust to children, then gradually gain the experience and patience for teens. All kidding aside, teens are wonderful; they are just very different from their former selves and have so many changes going on inside and around them that parents sometimes don’t understand.
Most all moms with teens that I have talked to compare boys and girls through the teenage years and say that girls are so much harder to get along with. In the experiences I had with three of mine, I would agree. But why? What makes female teens more difficult than male teens?
I blame a lot on peer pressure and the media. Many girls believe they are not pretty or thin enough. They compare themselves to celebrities or ads in magazines. They are sometimes subjected to bullies at school who make them feel inferior. But I can’t blame the media alone.
I caught myself telling these girls my opinion of my own image. Many women like myself, feel they are not as thin or beautiful as they would like to be. My daughters often heard me tell my mother how much I hated a certain picture of myself or how bad I thought a dress looked on my imperfect body. I never thought my act of degrading myself would transfer to my kids. Then I took a long look at my habit of putting myself down and realized that my mother did the same thing, as did her mother, as did her mother. I don’t think any of them realized how their daughters listened carefully to their opinions of their self-worth.
After I became aware that I was putting myself down, I went out of my way not to, especially in front of my teens. I make sure I compliment my daughters every time they try on an outfit or get a new haircut, even if I’m not a fan. I don’t let my preference judge their look but I make sure not to lie to them either. For example, if they try on something that makes their butt look big, I tell them the truth. They also do the same for me. This was a sign that my kids had crossed over from children to teenagers.
In this way, moms and teen daughters subtly bond and grow closer. Like a learning process, the teen years are about teenagers discovering themselves but also about moms of teens, realizing a little more about themselves too. Although teens may act like adults in some moments, they are still children, who need our guidance and support, more than ever.
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