I’ve struggled with my body image, like I’m sure many women have. But the other day my husband pointed out that my mom sounded a lot like me when it came to my body image. At first, I was horrified that I was that hard on myself (because she is very hard on herself), but then I realized that the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. I listened to my mom talk about her body negatively my whole life, so why wouldn’t some of her viewpoints rub off on me?
I’ve seen a few articles about what every mom should ‘tell’ their daughter, but I believe that it should go far beyond telling. Mothers should demonstrate the messages if they really want to instill those positive messages in their daughters.
I thought of this last weekend when I saw my niece. Her mother has told her and her sister that they can be anything they want, but she is an abused, unhappy, beat-down woman who is sending her daughters a very different message with her actions.
So, what should a mom demonstrate for her daughter? I believe the following 6 things will help any young girl grow up to be more confident, happy, and fulfilled.
1. Love Does NOT Hurt
A mother being physically or mentally abused, or who is forever unhappy in her relationship, is sending her daughter a message that love hurts. My sister-in-law has a mother who insists that a good wife stands by her man, no matter what, even if she is unhappy. She soaked up that message, took on an abusive husband, and is now sending that message to her daughters.
Real love does not hurt. And real love is possible for everyone.
Yes, inside of a loving relationship there are obstacles, disagreements, and maybe some downright fights, but true love should not make your life miserable and turn you into a victim, it should uplift you and turn you into the best version of yourself.
If you are sending a very negative message to your daughter about what love looks like, finding the strength to fix your relationship or remove it from your life, may be the one message that helps her only accept the real thing, and enjoy a loving relationship in the future.
2. Your Body Is Beautiful (No Matter What!)
Do you know that women overestimate the size of their waists by 25 percent and their hips by 16 percent? If you have ever watched, ‘How To Look Good Naked‘ you may believe that this is the minimum percentage that women overestimate their body parts by. (I know I have a distorted image of myself in my head and it can go far beyond 25%!)
Every day women are bombarded with the message that their body is not good enough. We see women who are perfect, air-brushed models who are perfect, and then we see women being made fun of for not being perfect. And THEN, many of us see our mothers sending us the message of continuous body shame.
How are we ever supposed to believe that we are beautiful with all these negative messages? This has got to change.
If we ever want to change this cycle, women have to start believing they are beautiful, no matter what society tells them, and let their daughters see what true confidence is all about.
3. You Always Have A Choice In Life…About Everything
How many mothers are telling their daughters that they have to be a specific person in life? For instance, how many mothers are telling their daughters that they have to get married, have kids, and follow the stereotypical life of a woman?
THEN, how many mothers are telling their kids that they had to give up on their dreams because they got married and had kids?
I’ll answer that: A lot! I hear it all the time!
There are plenty of married women out there who are living out their dreams.
There are plenty of mothers out there who are living out their dreams.
In other words, it can be done.
You always have a choice in life, and our daughters need to know that. Especially in this day and age. They can choose to be what they want to be, go where they want to go, get married, not get married, have kids, or not have kids. They can choose to live the life of their dreams without guilt and shame. We are in a time when it is possible and accepted.
And mothers need to set the example. No matter how old you are or what past decisions you have made, you have the choice to go after your dreams, be happy, and live the life you want to live.
4. Compassion Towards Others And Yourself Is Important
We are moving away from a bully-led society…or at least we are trying to. Teaching our daughters that compassion is important will help us move quicker towards a more loving world.
Compassion for animals, the world, and others is important to develop an awareness outside of themselves. Self-compassion is important to develop an awareness inside of themselves. Compassion really does make the world go around a lot smoother, and our daughters deserve the gift of being compassionate and receiving compassion.
Teach by example. Be kind to others and animals (you always have a choice to do so). Do good things for this world that help it thrive and survive (recycle, plant trees, pick up garbage, reduce your environmental footprint.)
The Dalai Lama is the king of compassion. Want to become more compassionate? Make some time to read and listen to him.
5. Embrace Your Natural Masculine And Feminine Traits
Masculine traits and feminine traits are a way of life. They occur in everything, from the sun and the moon, to a man and a woman.
If you watch (most, not all) little girls, they are naturally more feminine, but somewhere along the way women start to hide their femininity because it is viewed as weak and vulnerable.
The problem is that even though we hide our natural traits, they are still there as a natural part of us and they are begging to come out so that we can feel genuine!
If your daughter is very feminine, then allowing your daughter to embrace her femininity is a good thing, and showing your daughter that you allow yourself to embrace your natural traits (without same or fear) is sending the message to be yourself – no matter what.
If your daughter displays more masculine traits, then allowing her to do so is also a good thing. I’ve seen many young girls who are very masculine, but are told that they are not acting the ‘right way’ for a young girl and, therefore, suppress their natural traits and feel disingenuous.
This point is all about embracing our natural state of being, not fighting against it, and allowing our daughters to do the same.
6. Quiet Time Is Important
Mothers are notorious for always being busy. Many women I know feel as though they are not being as committed to life as they could be if they are not constantly on the move. The problem is that quiet time is important for self-reflection and a stronger connection to our inner-selves.
Spending time in quiet, each day, can help us to have a better relationship with ourselves and others around us, as well as reduce stress and physical ailments that come from working too hard and being too busy.
Allow yourself some time to meditate, reflect, journal, or just sit and stare at a wall. Let your daughter see that it is okay to be a strong woman and still spend time nurturing yourself.
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