Fayette-Mom: Our daughters, our self-esteem
When an ultrasound showed I was having a girl with my first pregnancy, I left the doctor’s office feeling as though I couldn’t breathe.Posted — Updated
When an ultrasound showed I was having a girl with my first pregnancy, I left the doctor’s office feeling as though I couldn’t breathe.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want a daughter. On the contrary, the thought of dresses and bows and little lace socks filled me with glee. But it also made me feel this overwhelming sense o f….. what? Responsibility? Weariness? Dread?
You see …. I’ve been fighting self-esteem issues all my life: never skinny enough, never pretty enough. And the experts tell us this rampant problem begins in childhood — that we have to start at the earliest of ages to let our daughters know they are smart, they are pretty, they are …. enough.
If I struggled so mightily with my own self-esteem issues, how would I ever prevent my child from going through something similar?
Emma is six and a half, and she is smart and pretty and outgoing, but she definitely has her moments. She wonders why certain friends don’t want to play with her, why so-and-so won’t sit with her on the bus. I try to tell her: You can’t control the actions of others, you can only control your reactions. Some days, I think I get through to her. Other days, I fight back tears, watching her struggle.
But ultimately, I’ve learned that the very best I can do for Emma is to lead by example. Even now, at 38 years old, I fight bad self-esteem. I constantly question whether I am worthy or if what I have to offer is of any value.
Do I do these things directly in front of my children? No. But I think we all know how intuitive our kids can be. If I want Emma to believe in herself, I have to show her that I don’t place so much value in what others think — that I set that bar for myself.
On good days, I know I am enough. On not-so-good days, I have to remind myself, sometimes by the hour, of my worth. I don’t give up. I keep pressing ahead.
And right now, I think that’s the very best thing I can do for my daughter.
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