My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds. If not, visit
http://thegirlrevolution.com
and update your bookmarks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Empowering Girls: Criticize Daughters' DNA

mybeautifulmommy.jpg

A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem. Naomi Wolf

The reverse is also true.

Divorce expert M. Gary Neuman says the worst thing any parent can do to their child is to criticize their other parent. Because children hear this as criticism of self. You criticize a child's DNA when you criticize their parent.

The same holds true when daughters hear their mothers criticize their own appearance. This is obvious if they share the criticized feature. Even if they don't, a "not pretty enough" feeling passes from one generation to the next.

As life coach Martha Beck says, Children feel about themselves the way we feel about ourselves. We only wish they felt about themselves the way we feel about them.

Wishing it doesn't make it so.

My Beautiful Mommy, a children's book, written by a plastic surgeon, who is incidentally depicted as a superhero who manages to make Mommy "pretty" (as both God and Mother Nature evidently could not) with a nose job, implied boob job and tummy tuck, has prompted media criticism.

As a parent, this book touches something inside us that we know intuitively is bad for kids.

What is plastic surgery if it's not the ultimate self-criticism?

What is plastic surgery if it's not the ultimate in criticizing both our children's and our parents' DNA?


The premise of this book is that we can resolve our self esteem and low self worth issues with surgery, and that we have the ability to articulate that to our children with a story book.

This can never, ever work.

What we CAN do, is grow a self esteem and teach our children how to grow a self esteem too.

The first step in feeling good about one's own reflection is to stop criticizing it. If we can learn to love how we look, our children will intuitively inherit a good self esteem.

I make it a point to compliment my own features as beautiful, especially those I share with my daughter.

Your hair is thick like mine, I love my hair.

We have perfect bow lips.

You're lucky you got my eyes, they are one of our best features.

I do it because I want to actively vaccinate my daughter against a low self esteem as Naomi Wolf suggests.

Try it. As with anything it takes practice, feels awkward at first but quickly becomes a habit.

If self-deprecation is becoming a problem in your house please read My Face/Her Face and Self-Loathing Sin Bank.

16 comments:

Vivienne said...

To empower a child and letting him/her grow up in a love-based environment will enable him/her to treat others in the same empowering loving way. Nice post.

Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter said...

When I was a kid, if I mentioned that I didn't like something about myself, my mom used to say: "Are you saying that God made a mistake?"

Ouch. I don't go that far, but I do like to emphasize my girls' physical features as being something handed down from generation to generation. We look at lots of old photos and comment on the things we got from our mothers and grandmothers.

It is harder to criticize something that has such historical meaning.

Anonymous said...

This rings SO true. Even, from mother to son and vice versa. One morning we were headed for school and I absent-mindedly glanced in the mirror and said "My hair looks like crap" (I guess to myself) and my 4 yr old son said in his most concerned, worried voice: "I think it looks pretty." But in his voice there was a hint of insecurity and horror at my declaration. I honestly think it hurt his feelings somehow.

Ashley

mom said...

I periodically tell my daughter (age 4) that "we're lucky because we're smart, beautiful, AND funny!" Weirdest thing -- I'm starting to believe it too ;-)

Tracee said...

I find when I'm trying to lose weight my daughter equates "my need" to lose weight with OUR need to lose weight.

Tracee said...

Mom I don't think it's weird - I think it's a recipe.

*1 cup compliment
*1 cup shared perception of OK and good enough
*cook for 18 years
*Equals daughter with positive self image and mother with positive self image.

The great thing about this is it isn't dependent on how anyone actually looks.

It's 100% reliant on how we FEEL about our looks and what we say about our looks. Which is entirely in our control. I love things that are in my control. It makes me feel empowered.

I love the idea of complimenting our heritage and historical genetic makeup too Lisa.

Violet said...

In my family, there is something called the "Violet family nose" that everyone takes great pride in sharing. Same thing with red hair.

A new baby is born and everyone starts "ohh, she has the Violet family nose!" or "Yep, she's going be lucky, she has red hair!"

It isn't a particularly great nose and some people think red hair is ugly. But it's special to us.

How lame would it be if everyone just wanted to chop up the Violet family nose?

(Of course, I'm adopted so I don't share any of these things, but that's another post)

mrs. blogoway said...

Wasn't it so funny when they discussed this book on the View? Joy made me crack up when she said, "Mommy has a pot??? Mommy needs to smoke some pot and get over it!!"

Lucy said...

Very interesting - hadn't occurred to me to supplement my positive comments on my daughters with positive comments about me/their father. Have to work on that one.

radical mama said...

We're positive and supportive in our house but I also stay away from vanity. There are more important things in my life than how I look and I emphasize my kindness, generosity, intelligence much more than my looks. Although my girls do know I think I look nice without makeup or high heels and I place little emphasis on their looks either. They know they are pretty, but I am more likely to compliment their creativity, determination, problem solving, or positive attitude.

Deborah said...

This article has been included in the latest edition of Mom's Blogging Carnival

Tess said...

This is the hardest lesson I have ever been faced with. It far outstrips any law school exam I have taken. I am very careful to compliment my daughter's insight, sense of humor, analytical thinking, and yes, her beauty, but I am not so kind to myself. I want very badly to learn to love myself so that my little girl doesn't soak up any secondhand self-image smoke, but I am finding it increasingly difficult in this era of plastic everything and airbrushing thrown on top for good measure.

Tracee said...

I'm sorry this is so difficult for you Tess.

I would suggest two rules: No self-deprecation and add one compliment to self a day.

Self esteem is very often a habit. You can either have a habit of self-deprecation or one of self-acceptance. Your feelings will follow the habit in my experience.

heatherj said...

Remember, no matter WHAT you think of your looks, hair, etc., your little ones KNOW that Mama is the most beautiful lady in the world. So, yeah, it's going to rock their world a bit to find out you don't think so, too. They also are sure that no one is stronger or more handsome than Daddy. To our little kids, WE are the superheroes (at least until they've watched too much TV)

Yaya said...

So true. I grew up w/ low self-esteem that has since been remedied through counseling, so my biggest issue with children is building self-esteem and self-love and acceptance. I am a nanny and I make sure to always be positive and compliment everyday, because too many children lack self-acceptance at such a young age.

jaymeeliz said...

I remember being seven. I was a chubby kid. My mom and I were looking in the mirror, then she gently pinched my double chin and told me "Look how prettier you could become without the double chin." It's not that I blame my mom for developing an eating disorder later on in my life. I love my mommy. But I just want to stress that every single word you say to a young girl leaves an imprint that lasts a lifetime.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Empowering Girls: Criticize Daughters' DNA

mybeautifulmommy.jpg

A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem. Naomi Wolf

The reverse is also true.

Divorce expert M. Gary Neuman says the worst thing any parent can do to their child is to criticize their other parent. Because children hear this as criticism of self. You criticize a child's DNA when you criticize their parent.

The same holds true when daughters hear their mothers criticize their own appearance. This is obvious if they share the criticized feature. Even if they don't, a "not pretty enough" feeling passes from one generation to the next.

As life coach Martha Beck says, Children feel about themselves the way we feel about ourselves. We only wish they felt about themselves the way we feel about them.

Wishing it doesn't make it so.

My Beautiful Mommy, a children's book, written by a plastic surgeon, who is incidentally depicted as a superhero who manages to make Mommy "pretty" (as both God and Mother Nature evidently could not) with a nose job, implied boob job and tummy tuck, has prompted media criticism.

As a parent, this book touches something inside us that we know intuitively is bad for kids.

What is plastic surgery if it's not the ultimate self-criticism?

What is plastic surgery if it's not the ultimate in criticizing both our children's and our parents' DNA?


The premise of this book is that we can resolve our self esteem and low self worth issues with surgery, and that we have the ability to articulate that to our children with a story book.

This can never, ever work.

What we CAN do, is grow a self esteem and teach our children how to grow a self esteem too.

The first step in feeling good about one's own reflection is to stop criticizing it. If we can learn to love how we look, our children will intuitively inherit a good self esteem.

I make it a point to compliment my own features as beautiful, especially those I share with my daughter.

Your hair is thick like mine, I love my hair.

We have perfect bow lips.

You're lucky you got my eyes, they are one of our best features.

I do it because I want to actively vaccinate my daughter against a low self esteem as Naomi Wolf suggests.

Try it. As with anything it takes practice, feels awkward at first but quickly becomes a habit.

If self-deprecation is becoming a problem in your house please read My Face/Her Face and Self-Loathing Sin Bank.

16 comments:

Vivienne said...

To empower a child and letting him/her grow up in a love-based environment will enable him/her to treat others in the same empowering loving way. Nice post.

Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter said...

When I was a kid, if I mentioned that I didn't like something about myself, my mom used to say: "Are you saying that God made a mistake?"

Ouch. I don't go that far, but I do like to emphasize my girls' physical features as being something handed down from generation to generation. We look at lots of old photos and comment on the things we got from our mothers and grandmothers.

It is harder to criticize something that has such historical meaning.

Anonymous said...

This rings SO true. Even, from mother to son and vice versa. One morning we were headed for school and I absent-mindedly glanced in the mirror and said "My hair looks like crap" (I guess to myself) and my 4 yr old son said in his most concerned, worried voice: "I think it looks pretty." But in his voice there was a hint of insecurity and horror at my declaration. I honestly think it hurt his feelings somehow.

Ashley

mom said...

I periodically tell my daughter (age 4) that "we're lucky because we're smart, beautiful, AND funny!" Weirdest thing -- I'm starting to believe it too ;-)

Tracee said...

I find when I'm trying to lose weight my daughter equates "my need" to lose weight with OUR need to lose weight.

Tracee said...

Mom I don't think it's weird - I think it's a recipe.

*1 cup compliment
*1 cup shared perception of OK and good enough
*cook for 18 years
*Equals daughter with positive self image and mother with positive self image.

The great thing about this is it isn't dependent on how anyone actually looks.

It's 100% reliant on how we FEEL about our looks and what we say about our looks. Which is entirely in our control. I love things that are in my control. It makes me feel empowered.

I love the idea of complimenting our heritage and historical genetic makeup too Lisa.

Violet said...

In my family, there is something called the "Violet family nose" that everyone takes great pride in sharing. Same thing with red hair.

A new baby is born and everyone starts "ohh, she has the Violet family nose!" or "Yep, she's going be lucky, she has red hair!"

It isn't a particularly great nose and some people think red hair is ugly. But it's special to us.

How lame would it be if everyone just wanted to chop up the Violet family nose?

(Of course, I'm adopted so I don't share any of these things, but that's another post)

mrs. blogoway said...

Wasn't it so funny when they discussed this book on the View? Joy made me crack up when she said, "Mommy has a pot??? Mommy needs to smoke some pot and get over it!!"

Lucy said...

Very interesting - hadn't occurred to me to supplement my positive comments on my daughters with positive comments about me/their father. Have to work on that one.

radical mama said...

We're positive and supportive in our house but I also stay away from vanity. There are more important things in my life than how I look and I emphasize my kindness, generosity, intelligence much more than my looks. Although my girls do know I think I look nice without makeup or high heels and I place little emphasis on their looks either. They know they are pretty, but I am more likely to compliment their creativity, determination, problem solving, or positive attitude.

Deborah said...

This article has been included in the latest edition of Mom's Blogging Carnival

Tess said...

This is the hardest lesson I have ever been faced with. It far outstrips any law school exam I have taken. I am very careful to compliment my daughter's insight, sense of humor, analytical thinking, and yes, her beauty, but I am not so kind to myself. I want very badly to learn to love myself so that my little girl doesn't soak up any secondhand self-image smoke, but I am finding it increasingly difficult in this era of plastic everything and airbrushing thrown on top for good measure.

Tracee said...

I'm sorry this is so difficult for you Tess.

I would suggest two rules: No self-deprecation and add one compliment to self a day.

Self esteem is very often a habit. You can either have a habit of self-deprecation or one of self-acceptance. Your feelings will follow the habit in my experience.

heatherj said...

Remember, no matter WHAT you think of your looks, hair, etc., your little ones KNOW that Mama is the most beautiful lady in the world. So, yeah, it's going to rock their world a bit to find out you don't think so, too. They also are sure that no one is stronger or more handsome than Daddy. To our little kids, WE are the superheroes (at least until they've watched too much TV)

Yaya said...

So true. I grew up w/ low self-esteem that has since been remedied through counseling, so my biggest issue with children is building self-esteem and self-love and acceptance. I am a nanny and I make sure to always be positive and compliment everyday, because too many children lack self-acceptance at such a young age.

jaymeeliz said...

I remember being seven. I was a chubby kid. My mom and I were looking in the mirror, then she gently pinched my double chin and told me "Look how prettier you could become without the double chin." It's not that I blame my mom for developing an eating disorder later on in my life. I love my mommy. But I just want to stress that every single word you say to a young girl leaves an imprint that lasts a lifetime.