My daughter has always been proud of her strength.
When she was little she’d perform tiny pull-ups from inside her pack & play.
As a toddler she’d greet friends new and old by bear-hugging, hoisting ’em off the ground and walkcarrying them across the playground.
(This definitely made for more than a few awkward moments with said friends’ parents/caregivers)
Strong and nurturing have always been her words.
Not so much even the fact we strive to stay healthy together or internal/external strength is valued in our family–she simply knows her power.
She’s aware she’s capable.
She’s aware she’s strong.
She’s proud of these traits.
Turning double digits hasn’t shaken her confidence in the slightest.
Instead of starting to worry or obsess about her transitioning body she’s excited for the changes ahead.
And, more even more thrilling to her, is the fact she’s officially allowed to lift weights with the “big people.”
(Gold’s Gym rules. I have my own about body-weight versus iron at age 10)
The past month or so has been a constant stream of flexing or performing feats of strength with her saying:
Mama I’m so strong!
The thing is, in addition to my counseling background, I was once a girl.
I’m all too aware with regards to self-esteem we are entering the treacherous time.
The period (no pun intended) where she may lose her voice and no longer value being powerful and taking up space in the world.
Where she may, for lack of a better phrase, start to feel stoppable not strong.
Right now I cannot even imagine that version of my Child.
Right now, I realize, is a crucial time with regards to laying (more) foundation so she remains confident in who she is.
Here’s how I’m endeavoring to do that:
1. I tell her I believe in her. And I work to show her that faith through my actions no matter her goals. Whether I think her aspirations are realistic or lofty –I support, encourage and let her know I believe in her at every opportunity.
I believe you can train a Bow Wow Reader dog
2. I love what she loves…even if I hate it. So far I’ve been fortunate. She loves skating. I love skating. She loves gymnastics. I used to kick ass at gymnastics. If she fell in love with Minecraft, horror movies or skiing (none of which I’m drawn to) I’d fall in love with those, too. It’s all about creating and maintaining connection. I will do what I have to in order to facilitate that.
WHEW she loves the Austin Roller Derby!
3. I love how I look. Quite frankly I don’t spend much time thinking about my appearance. It’s neither good nor bad–it’s just who I am. Research indicates, however, mothers who are vocal about dislike for their bodies foster those same feelings in daughters. Even though I don’t do that vocalizing–this all still feels like a crapshoot to me. I wonder about the power of peers and media? I wonder if being adopted will play a role? I’m doing my part and praying. A lot.
I love my body for what it can do.
4. I compliment her honestly. She may be only 11, but she’s definitely aware if someone is being authentic. You’re amazing at math!! wouldn’t ring true to her because she’s not. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. I’ve watched her become aware how others compliment her. That drawing is absolutely fantastic!!! (when she knows she’s not an artist) is shrugged off, but You are a super fast skater! is held close and treasured. Adults can forget not only do kids see through compliments not anchored in reality, these transparent words spark them to mistrust us in other arenas. Grit, resilience, tenacity are the focus of my kind words.
all of this is about connection.
My post really is blogging as we did it in the golden days.
Sure I’m offering tips, but they’re only things which have worked around here (so far).
More than anything I crave a return to the comment’versation.
For your insights from the trenches or the wisdom you’ve gained as you’ve emerged the other side.
- Parent or non: what do you believe is one thing adults can do to help preserve girls’ self-esteem?