I know it’s early days with my kids being only seven and (nearly) thirteen but so far my girls are confident and I’m proud of that. I like to think some of it is because of their home life.
My eldest was young when she did a talent show at school, second grade, the youngest in the school to pass the audition process. She wanted to perform stand up and asked me to buy her a rubber chicken. I didn’t quite know where to scare one up but when we went to a thrift shop we happened upon this hat that she has worn with pride every since.
When she first wore this hat to her new high school she expected the kids to mock her and was pleasantly surprised that when older kids did make comments but they were complimentary. Her peers always feel a little embarrassed to be seen with her when she’s wearing the chicken hat because it garners so much attention. Which makes her wear it even more often just to needle them. (Yes, my eldest is that asshole friend you had in high school. She loves shy kids and making them blush.)
But how did our parenting style help these girls face down the world even when they expect to get mocked?
Well, all kids will comment on our bodies and what we’re wearing. The moms especially will be critiqued in harsh terms. Sometimes innocently enough, “you have a fat belly, mommy,” and sometimes with cruel intention, “that shirt makes you look stupid.”
I do the same thing to my tiny home-grown haters that I’ve learned to do in the wider world. I embrace them in my self love. “Hell, yeah, I have a fat belly,” and I dance for them until they cry with laughter and beg me to stop. “You know this shirt is stupid! But it’s so soft. Feel how soft it is. Like wearing a hug.” If the critique has merit, “You look tired,” then I’ll take it in the gentle manner it was intended but flip it into praise for myself, “Yeah, it’s tiring being this amazing all the time.”
Because I want to demonstrate how to behave when people in the world — even the people we love — critique us. I hope I’m modeling how they should handle it.
Plus, I don’t let the kids have access to social media. Instagram is death to adolescent self esteem. Insta-depress. Nope. You are not comparing yourself to that plastic fantastic. At least not until you’re older. I want a few more chicken hat years.