What is Your Daughter Learning From You?

What will we teach our daughters about who God’s made them to be? {Image: anatols / 123RF.com}

She watches me put on makeup. Curious eyes, taking in each brush stroke. She’s listening to me talk with friends. Young ears soaking in the words I use to talk about life, myself and the people I know. The eyes and ears of my ten year old daughter.

She’s also listening to her friends at school. Their tween take on the world, their bodies, boys and life. And she’s absorbing what she sees in movies and other media. What will she hear loudest? As school starts up again, I worry, wonder, pray and prepare for all these things my oldest girl and her three younger sisters face when it comes to how they see themselves and their world.

Which is why it’s a joy to welcome today’s guest blogger, Michelle Carlson. We met as we both prepared for the She Speaks conference last month and her energy and enthusiasm for health and wellness is delightfully contagious! I think you’ll love what she has to say about how we encourage our girls in their self-image.

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Statistics today state that by age 9 most girls are already experiencing negative body image, and girls as young as 5 years old are on a diet. This begs the question: What is going on??

Young girls have a wide variety of stimuli to choose from when it comes to body image and self esteem. While standing in line at the local grocery store they can gaze upon perfect magazine images all in a row. These images alone can be a lot for a young mind to process, and become a factor in a girl’s self esteem.

We as mothers play a much larger role in our daughters’ self esteem and self image than we may realize. In a world where the pursuit of perfection is the latest endurance sport, we can get caught up in the craziness of it all. We may make comments about friends who have lost weight or the fact that our weight loss efforts are benign. We may ask the all important, “Does this make my butt look big?” everyday. We make comments about our food, jobs, parenting style and often about others as well.

Daughters, from toddlers to teenagers, listen intently to what we say and watch what we focus on.

Now, I realize some might be thinking, “My daughter never listens to a word I say!”. Although that may seem true, I assure you she hears. She may choose not to clean when you tell her to clean, but she hears the degrading comment about a pair of jeans that fit too snug. With every drop of negativity we speak of ourselves, we water small seeds of self doubt within our daughters.

As mothers of girls, it is both a privilege and a full time job to protect their well being and help them cultivate the habit of hope instead of self doubt.

What are some daily habits of hope that help grow godly young women? Here are a few that we can put into practice at any stage in life:

  • Develop open communication channels with our daughters. We are first and foremost a mother, not a friend. Our girls need to feel as though they can come to us about the harder things in life. And they know this best when we set the tone with open and honest communication.
  • Seek out teaching moments and support those that happen naturally. During the times when life prunes them (they’re struggling with self-doubt, rejection, insecurity or mistakes they’ve made) it can be easy to resort to our human nature and place blame or try to fix situations. Instead, we can try to use these teaching moments to link our girls closer to their Father in heaven.
  • Pray fervently over our daughters’ hearts. Pray over the hearts of their future husbands. Pray for divine appointments and interventions throughout their lives. Pray for protection from the enemy’s attempts to discourage them.
  • Exemplify God’s never ending love for our daughters as we live our own lives accepting His never ending love for us.

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Michelle Carlson is a devoted follower of Christ, and a wife and mother. Michelle battled with negativity and low self esteem for most of her life, eventually facing her demons and losing over one hundred pounds. The result of this was two books on healthy weight loss, Your Guide to Lasting Weight Loss and The Little Fit Book. Michelle is passionate about empowering all women to live their lives to the fullness of their God ordained purpose and make the world a better place for our daughters. Michelle lives in Baytown, Texas and writes about emotional and spiritual health, nutrition, weight loss and body image. Connect with her at her website, and on Twitter and Facebook.

 

(Image credit: anatols / 123RF Stock Photo)

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Comments

  1. says

    Michelle, I am pregnant with my first baby – a girl – and I am so excited. But as I have watched my body change throughout pregnancy, and as one who struggled with bulimia and still struggles with body image issues, I am very conscious of all the “talk” I have been saying out loud recently and what I would do if my little girl actually understood what I was saying. I know this is something I am going to have to really work on as a mom.

    I also have a practical, parenting question for you because I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I so do not want my daughter to develop food obsession issues, but I want her to be healthy especially with childhood obesity so high now. So, when your kids are young, do you have meal times and snack times when they can eat or do you allow them to eat throughout the day whenever they want? I struggle b/c I don’t want her to learn that we eat just because the clock says it’s time even when we’re not hungry. And I know as an adult I get hungry at all different times. But I want her to learn discipline, too, with her eating, and know that we just don’t eat all the time just to eat. What are your thoughts? Do you know of any good books about developing positive eating habits in children?

    Thank you, and I’m a fellow She Speaks sister! 🙂 Visiting from the FB group!!

    • Laurie Wallin says

      There are a lot of answers to this, and it really becomes a prayerful, personal family choice. For ours, we loved Dr. Sears’ idea to let the kids graze on healthy options. He recommended using a cupcake tin filled with a variety of fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes. We did that for a few years when our kids were preschoolers and it really opened up their palate to different types of healthy foods. My 4, 6 and 10 year olds all still eat their veggies first most dinners now!

    • says

      Hi Brenda! Congratulations, baby girls are so much fun 🙂
      I grew up with severe food issues, battled obesity and anorexia, and we were clock eaters and diet obessed people. So, I have found in my fam it works best to allow the children to eat when they are hungry. I wash and prep ALL the fruits and veggies when we get home from the store so when they get hungry, that’s what they go for. If they don’t want that then they are usually just bored or craving something and this practice has helped them know the difference. As kids get older, I suggest taking them to the store and letting them pick out healthy foods to try. This worked wonders for my kiddos. And we have also taken the time to clean up their favorite, not so healthy recipes, so that they do not have to deal with deprivation.
      Ellyn Satter is the bomb for kids nutrition and is a strong advocate for taking back the family table. I am writing a book now (hopefully out in January) that covers nutrition and health for the whole family as well.
      Hope any of that helped and congrats again!
      Michelle

    • Laurie Wallin says

      Those are tough moments for us moms. I’m seeing one daughter conscious of nutrition labels and wanting to be healthy and another craving candy and making food a fight. Michelle’s tip to focus on hope and our daughters’ value in Christ are such beautiful reminders!

  2. Diane W Bailey says

    THis is an excellent topic of conversation. I have grown daughters and we all have to remind ourselves to embrace who we are and it is beautiful. Yes even mama needs a reminder from time to time.

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