“Mummy you’re not going to be happy,” my daughter said
Raising children can be hard work, but as informed parents, we can help our children reach a place of self-acceptance, by encouraging a positive self-image in this body conscious world in which we live.
A few weeks ago, as I was taking a shower, my little shadow, otherwise known as Miss Lily aged 7, sat quietly watching me before she said:
“Mum, you’re not going to be happy about what the voice in my head has been saying.”
“Why? What has it been saying?”
“You won’t like it.”
“Lil, what has your voice been saying?”
“It’s been saying it wishes I wasn’t born and that I’m ugly.”
I paused momentarily as the thoughts in my head began racing at a million miles an hour.
“Lil, you are such a special person. Do you know who that little voice is? That little voice in your head is you. You actually control that voice, you’re in charge of it. Did you know that?”
She shook her head.
“Whenever my inner voice says something to me, like I’m not good enough, or I can’t do something, it’s my job to remind myself that I am good enough and that I can totally do hard things! What are some other things you could tell your voice to say?” I continued, “tell me three things that are awesome about you?”
She thought about it for a moment before saying, “I’m kind, I’m caring and I’m funny.”
“Great!” I agreed. “Now you know that if your voice starts saying things that aren’t nice and that don’t make you feel good, you have the power to say STOP and flip that thinking around because you’re in charge!”
She looked at me with wide eyes, I could see her little mind ticking as she processed my words.
“So Lil, what are you going to say to yourself next time, when your voice starts saying things that don’t feel good?”
“I’m going to say I’m kind, I’m caring and I’m funny.”
“And Lil, that’s only a few of the things you are, you’re also smart, strong, loving, helpful and brave. You’re sooooo many things and you’re a really important person in our family, it’s important you always remember that.”
She looked at me through the foggy shower glass and said “I will. I promise.” And with that she walked out.
I’m not sure how many of us think of our little people in relation to their inner voices. I felt so grateful to have had an opportunity to teach Lily that her inner voice is her own, that she controls it. I know how hard life gets as girls grow up, I can still recall my younger inner voice all too well, it wasn’t kind. If we can teach our children early that the voice in their head is theirs and encourage them to challenge that voice and make it respond in a way that makes them feel good about themselves, how much better off will they be later in life?
A moment to reflect
The saying ‘Be who YOU needed when you were younger’ comes to my mind often. I find myself thinking about how different my life would have been if my mother had had better self-acceptance, if she’d not had body image issues, or if she’d had a positive relationship with food instead of one of struggle. We can’t turn our own pasts around, but we can think back to when we were little girls, and remember the things that impacted us, the things that made us happy or sad or confused.
I couldn’t handle arguments or conflict of any sort as a child, and I prefer to shy away from them as a grown up too. As a child I was filled with a desperate need to make these situations better, and for that reason I was always the first to apologise whether something was my fault or not, I didn’t need to be right, I just needed things to be ok. I needed resolution because I worried desperately that when anyone was angry with me it meant they no longer loved me. As a result of that, when I am angry with one of my children and I lose my temper, within moments of calming down, I go up to them and remind them that even if I’m angry with their behaviour, I always love them. I reassure them just in case they feel like I did when I was small.
What did you need when you were younger that you didn’t get? What change can you create for your own children?
You can read about another huge change I made here: Coming out
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