Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: self-esteem

Ways To Help Your Child Improve Their Self-Esteem by Charlie Baulm

Charlie Baulm is a researcher in the fields of addiction and mental health. After battling with addiction himself and finding sobriety, Charlie aims to discuss these issues with the goal of reducing the stigma associated with both. Follow him on Twitter! 

When your child has self-esteem issues, it’s not going to be as simple as a positive affirmation to solve the problem. Low self-esteem is defined as a condition when your child views himself or herself as inadequate or who can’t do anything right. This thought process is repeated until it permeates through the whole being. Unfortunately for us parents, we can unconsciously exacerbate the situation with our words and actions.

Many psychologists now are in agreement that low self-esteem is a disorder, much like body dysmorphia, which is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are quite similar to the whole alphabet soup of conditions. The problem is that low self-esteem is such an abstract concept to be treated, which contributes to the misdiagnosis.

What the Statistics Say About Low Self-Worth

According to a study commissioned by Park Nicollet Melrose Center and titled, “Teens, Social Media And Body Image,” 8 in 10 women are not satisfied with the way they look, while 7 in 10 who actually have normal weight want to become slimmer. More than 8 in 10 girls who are 10 years old have an unusual fear of becoming fat.

More than half of 13-year-old girls are not satisfied with their bodies. In fact, a typical 10- to 14-year-old girl today could already be on a diet. By the time they hit 17 years old, the number balloons to more than 7 in 10.

Children with low-esteem problems are vulnerable in the sense that they tend to go out of their way to please everybody. They can easily be manipulated this way.

 Tips in Helping Your Child With a Low Self-Esteem

Here are some ways to help your child:

      • Positive affirmation – Avoid negative words when talking to your child and comparing them with more accomplished siblings and friends. However, be realistic with your praises.
      • Get their input in the decision-making process – This is one way for your children to forge their identities. When they realize that their voices matter in the home, they become more confident about speaking up.
      • Encourage them to learn new things – It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture like learning ballet. Even riding a horse, kayaking, or painting the shed will be enough. The important thing is you are there with them.
      • Don’t box them in – We always think that our kids are the smartest and the most beautiful small persons ever. But don’t reward their effort by equating it with a certain quality (smart, genius, strong-willed, etc.). Let them have their own identity without your constant pressure.
      • Lead by example – You can talk a good game all you want, but your child will always look at your actions first. They observe more than you think they do. How do you deal with your body image? Do you use negative self-talk in front of them?
      • Let them make a mistake – This is another way they can develop their own identity. They have to make a mistake in order to learn from it and build on it going forward. They are going to make bad decisions sometimes, don’t reprimand them for it. Rather step back and ask them what they think is the best way to handle the situation.

Unfortunately, low self-esteem can lead to addiction. Young people turn to drugs and alcohol as an outlet when they are feeling down about themselves. Another study affirms this as it claimed that girls with a low self-worth tend to engage in harmful behaviors. There are rehab facilities that help your kids manage the substance dependence but in some cases, it can take a lifetime of follow through and counseling for your child.

As parents it is important to pay attention and listen not just to what your kids are saying but more importantly, to what they are not saying. Verbal cues are important, but many times it is the subtle signs of low self-esteem that are easier to spot. Many people who struggle with low self-esteem are not comfortable talking about their issues, even with their parents. Most importantly, continue to encourage your children and speak highly about them, let them know that they are just as capable as anyone else in terms of accomplishing their goals and building their own lives.

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Ideas for Generating Self-Love and Why It’s Crucial

Self-care and emotional health are two subjects that readers of this blog said they’re interested in reading more about. It’s not always easy to love ourselves, but it’s important to work on it. The need to practice self-love has never been more necessary.  Today, we live in a world, where so many people suffer from low self-esteem that we’re in the middle of an emotional epidemic. This is evident by the amount of people we hear about committing suicide or suffering from depression. 

Interestingly, a lot of people struggle with this area of their lives because they feel they should naturally have high self-esteem by default, as if having high self-esteem is a human’s default state.  When, in fact it isn’t.

Self-esteem and self-love must be generated from within.  Just like how we teach our children to love, respect, and value themselves, we need to do the same for ourselves, and it’s a never-ending process.  Perhaps your parents did a great job at helping you generate self-esteem, or perhaps they were deficient in this area themselves, and couldn’t teach you what they simply didn’t know. Now that you are an adult or a parent yourself, it’s up to you to figure this out for yourself and your kids. 

Self-love as a Practice: See, self-love is a practice, just like yoga is a practice – you don’t do it once, and then you’re suddenly flexible.  You must practice. Yet, not everyone knows how to practice self-love. It’s not as tangible as doing a few yoga poses with an instructor. 

Positive thinking: Self-love, self-worth, and a high self-esteem are feelings and beliefs we must generate for ourselves… yet, have you noticed how the majority of people don’t tend to practice self-love? Instead they practice self-loathing, where they focus much more on their mistakes and faults than their achievements and qualities. When you find your inner critic being incredibly harsh on yourself, tell him or her to go away, and think of at least one positive thing about yourself–right then and there. 

Don’t Use Retail Therapy: The antidote to many of our emotional challenges can be found in this area of self-love and positive thinking. Yet often, we reach for external solutions such as a new wardrobe, furniture, or even a fancy car.  If you need these new things, then of course, there’s nothing wrong with heading somewhere like https://auto.loan/ in order to find the best way to finance your purchase.  The bit that can make purchases unhealthy are when there’s an over reliance on material objects in order to prop up your self-esteem or you can’t afford the things you are buying.

Relationship issues: The same can be said for relationships. Indeed, when it comes to being in a relationship… it’s necessary to first love yourself before you can love another person and have a healthy relationship.  A good way to view the importance of self-love is to consider how airlines will always instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping anybody else, even your children. See, we can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask if we are starving for air, and similarly, we can’t truly love and support someone if we are deficient in self-love and self-esteem, as then we can become desperate and starved for these emotional fuels.

The challenge, with relationships is that if we don’t have a healthy level of self-esteem and self-love in ourselves, then we end up giving love in order to receive love, almost out of desperation, and we operate from a depleted, somewhat needy state, where we are needing to be “filled up” like a car in need of gas.

Conclusion: We can expend a lot of energy looking to tackle our internal challenges with external solutions, like being in a co-dependent relationship or practicing retail therapy or overeating; yet this replacement approach is only temporary relief that can leave us feeling more hollow inside.

That said, if you were to shift your focus to pampering yourself because you deserve it, and nourishing your body, such as preparing healthy meals, along with a candlelit bath and your favorite bath bomb from https://lush.com  ,then you’re focused on tending to your emotional and physical needs. That is a tangible and healthy way to practice self-love. 

The solution, and the secret to self-love, is that you must take responsibility for generating a feeling of high self-esteem within yourself–positive thoughts, meditating, healthy eating, doing activities you enjoy and make you feel good about yourself–and fill yourself up, rather than expecting anyone or anything else to do it for you.

(contributed post)

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Learning To Listen To My Gut

“Always trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.” ~Anonymous

Geez, if only I could easily follow this advice…but I’m in the process of learning it–maybe I’m at the very beginning of the lesson. I’m an infant at listening to my gut. My friends can tell you this. I overthink. I rationalize. I decide to give someone/something one more chance–despite what my gut says. Because…how could my gut be right? But I think 10 times out of 10, if I go back and look at a situation, I will remember a moment when I should have known that something was off. Has this happened to you? Have you had the old HINDSIGHT is 20/20 thing in your life? Listening to your gut doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to say good-bye to someone or that you have to quit doing something, but it does mean that you have to address whatever gives you that uneasy feeling in  your gut. This is the key!

This is so true with dating! Even if you’re married now, at one point, you were dating. How many times did you go out with someone way longer than you should have when your gut was telling you that something wasn’t right? This doesn’t mean that there’s something terribly wrong with the person–he or she might be lovely or fine for someone else. But this experience does mean that this person wasn’t right for you or for your current situation, and your gut was warning you.

Recently, I had a situation where someone asked me out, but I couldn’t go that evening. At first, everything seemed fine. But then, a text message came from him that was not super nice–but you know text messages, they are infamous for sending the wrong signals because you can’t tell tone. A couple more messages were exchanged, and I still didn’t feel right about him; but by the end of the night, I had convinced myself that I was overreacting. Maybe I misread what he meant. Maybe I don’t know what that particular emoji actually meant. Maybe I was overthinking.

So, I turned to my trusty girlfriends, and as you know, the people I surround myself with are extremely important to me. I explained the situation to them, sent a screenshot of the few texts, and asked: What do you think?

Immediately, they came back with–that wasn’t very nice, and trust your gut. Move on. So I did. But why did I need that confirmation from others? Why didn’t I just trust my gut to begin with?

That is the big question, and one I am currently working on exploring. I wonder how many of us are good at this. How many of us go with our gut immediately and don’t stop and overthink? And I wonder how many of the people who are able to trust their gut right away have lives that are much less stressful and anxiety-ridden?

There are all kinds of opinions about this–some people think trusting your gut too much is irresponsible, while others swear by it. Some scientists have studied what happens to the body when people are faced with a choice and “go with their gut.”

But here’s what I am starting to realize–when I’m forcing myself to “get over” something someone has done or said, and this person has not truly apologized or shown any better behavior or concern, then I need to listen to my gut. Life is too short to spend it with people who make you feel uncomfortable and/or don’t respect you. 🙂 So if you see me, ask me…how is it going with listening to your gut?

How about you? Do you listen to your gut? When has it worked for you?

 

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Working Through The Comparison Trap

Recently, I was in a video/book study called The Comparison Trap. This little four-week course is life-changing. Well, I should say: it can be life changing if you put into practice what the book discusses. (Side note: There’s a spiritual element to this book. It quotes Bible verses, and the woman who wrote it is married to a preacher. EVEN IF this usually does not do it for you, I recommend fighting through this and reading the book anyway. Every place she talks about God, can you think of Higher Power or Universe instead? I’m stealing this idea from the book You are a Badass! But I think it is an excellent point to not get hung up the “G-word.” And who knows what can happen in your life if you keep an open mind? ) Onward…

Before week one, I never realized how often I compare myself to other people and how shitty it makes me feel. Sometimes, I compare myself and I don’t measure up. I don’t have a loving husband or boyfriend. I don’t live in “the best school district” (although I love mine and the location of my house). I don’t have as much money as friend A, B or C.  I’m not 25 anymore. I could go on and drive myself crazy. I also do the flip side: Well, at least, I work full time. Well, at least, I have a book published, and so on. All of that thinking and comparing is exhausting and not helpful to anyone, most of all me.

The class had anywhere from 6 to 8 women in it each week, ranging in age from mid-40s to retirement age. And it was powerful. It was so powerful that we actually met for 5 weeks, instead of the 4 that the author recommends. Let me tell you the two moments that sealed it for me:

  1. The last week, we were asked to think of a time in our lives when we couldn’t celebrate other people’s good news. When we heard good news, did we react with jealousy or did we celebrate with the person? At first, I thought: this is a no-brainer–I celebrate. When I read the daily devotionals about overcoming this “jealousy”, it didn’t fit me, until I started thinking about when I was trying to get pregnant. It was very difficult for me to get pregnant, and I thought it would never happen. During this time, whenever I found out someone was pregnant, I was not celebrating. I was saying: Why me? In class, I even shared that I skipped a few celebrations because it was so heartbreaking to attend baby showers. It was a dark time. I am not proud of myself; and even though you may be thinking, well, I can understand why–that doesn’t excuse it. I was comparing my life to theirs, and my life is nothing like theirs. It’s not healthy, and it takes an extreme amount of faith in the Universe or God or your Higher Power or whatever you believe in to get out of the darkness and move on. I am happy that I did it. I am happy that once I let go, I got pregnant (just like everyone says).  And I think I still do that “jealousy thing” a little bit today now that I am divorced. But I am stopping it! Right now! I realized as I was writing this post: Sometimes, when I’m thinking about my relationship status, I will count up the number of people I know who are also divorced and without a partner. But really, this is terrible. If my friends and family want to be in a relationship, then they should be, and it should be happy and healthy and enriching. And I should celebrate it with them and let go of this notion that makes me compare myself to find my worth. Because frankly, it is exhausting.
  2. The two big messages that are driven home in this book are everyone is unique and special with their own talents. AND if you have a heart of gratitude, you will find contentment. We discussed these philosophies at length and honestly. Because let’s be real, isn’t it hard to take sometimes when you look at your neighbor and she is beautiful, owns a fancy car, and has a successful career,and a loving husband? Why did she get all of this and you didn’t? It can be hard to take when you are looking OUT. So what I learned in this book and this class and even writing this post is–you have to look IN. What are your talents and blessings? What are you grateful for? We also discussed how being content does not mean you can’t have goals or improve your life. But you should create these goals and improvements because you looked IN and it’s what you really want–not because you are looking OUT and trying to be as good as Mrs. Jones.

If I remember nothing else in a month from this study, this phrase, which is now hanging on the bulletin board in my room, will be something I remember: There is NO win in comparison. 

 

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Life is All About Your Reaction and Your Tribe

Today on Facebook, I saw the quote:

Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react to it.

Isn’t that the truth? It was the right time to see this because earlier this week, I had a minor meltdown (I call it minor because it lasted a short time while one of my friends was saying: snap out of this; you’re just going to have to deal with it).  So what happened? When I was checking the balance of my bank account, I noticed 5 charges for $20 each to iTunes, which were not mine. And it looked like they were happening right then because these amounts were still on pending charges.

My anxiety level went through the roof. Christmas is already a time when I spend more money than I normally do; AND in Missouri, we also have personal property tax due. I immediately called the bank, and I was immediately put on hold. Meltdown occurred while I was on hold. I had time to think of all the negative, end-of-the-world things that were going to happen to me because someone stole $100 out of my checking account. Was the person still charging away? Would the person at the bank help me? Would I get my money back? When would I get my money back? I had been carefully planning my budget for this month, and now it was all shot to hell! I was spiraling.

Eventually, I took a deep breath with help from my friend. I called someone local at my bank who helped me instantly. I still don’t have the money returned, but I will get it back. I didn’t have to wait for a debit card to be sent to me; I could get another one at the local bank. So everything is fine. And the meltdown just made an unpleasant situation much, much worse. Luckily, I have a good friend who waded through my BS and said the things that needed to be said at that moment.

So I think that quote above is accurate; but for me, it’s changed a little:

Life is 10 percent what happens to you, 40 percent how you react to it, and 50 percent who you choose to surround yourself with.

That’s the key! Who YOU CHOOSE to surround yourself with! It is my choice, just like my reaction is my choice. I am so lucky to have amazing friends, but I would say that it’s not all luck. I pride myself on trying to be a good friend, and I am NOW careful on who I let into my life.

Just this morning, I was messaging with some girlfriends in a group chat, and we were talking about life and attitude. I mentioned a particularly difficult situation I had coming up and how there was really nothing I could do about it. I said: “I am choosing to let it go. We will tackle what happens when it happens–nothing that happens is the end of the world.” They all agreed and supported me. So again, 10 percent is what will happen (beyond my control), 40 percent is my current reaction and how I will react, and 50 percent is this group of amazing friends I have who are really the ones who have been teaching me all about reaction.

This holiday season and in 2018, you are bound to have some challenges. We all are. My wish for you is that you can choose your reaction and the people around you, and find joy in your life.

My word of the year this past year was peace (and organization–I like to continue improving on previous words of the year). It has taken me just about all year, but I am learning to live more peacefully. (Still learning, mind you…work in progress…) More about that next time. 🙂

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A Letter to a Narcissist

A little bit of creative writing I’ve been working on…

Dear Narcissist:

I am no longer going to be a supply for you. What do I mean? I know where you get your energy. You get your energy from me, from her, from anyone who will allow you to come into their lives and wreak havoc. But today, I am putting my foot down, and the thing is, I’m not telling you.

This may seem unfair to anyone who doesn’t know a narcissist. But if I tell you, if I let you know that today, I’m done allowing you to make me feel like I don’t matter, to make me feel like I am less worthy than someone else in your life, then I won’t be able to stick to this. All I will be is your supply for the day. You will make me feel guilty. You will make me feel wrong. I could be wrong, but the thing is that doesn’t matter. What matters is how I feel after dealing with you–whether it’s a conversation, an in-person meeting, or no response to my attempts at contact.

Actually, I don’t think you will notice. You’ve started to groom someone else, someone else is supplying your high.  You have someone else worried about your every need; you have someone else who will do anything for you. You found others who are supplying that emotional energy you need, when you make them feel like less than themselves. You make them feel like you’re the only one who can fix them, the only one who will have anything to do with them because of how horrible they are. You basically have to do nothing in return, except for your grooming, because now the people in your life are just waiting, hoping, yearning for your approval, time, and attention. It really is a wonderful support system you’ve created for yourself. But it’s not real, and deep down, you know it. Everything in your life is a facade. How exhausting that must be to be grasping a life, filled with beliefs that aren’t based in reality.

Here’s the other thing. I’m not upset with you–not anymore. I used to be. I used to be upset about how you always changed the rules; how you said something and then when I did it, you changed your mind and said it wasn’t enough or it was wrong; how you blamed me for everything; how you didn’t consider my feelings; how you acted like everything you gave me was a gift that I was super lucky to have because you were so busy and great, and I wasn’t; and how you made me feel like I owed you for the nice things you did for me. I’m not upset at you.

I’m upset with myself–for knowing that it would never get better; for getting away from you before and then letting you back countless times; for feeling like if I could only do this ONE thing right, you would want me again; for wasting my energy with someone who clearly doesn’t care about anyone, including himself.

I only hope I can stick to the first line in this letter.

I’m not going to be a supply for you anymore.

Love,

Someone who has a long journey ahead

If you have a narcissist in your life, the pain that you may be feeling is very real and similar to what is expressed in this post. I have found an invaluable resource in Kim Saeed’s website, if you are looking for answers and need to start healing. 

 

 

 

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Keeping Your Sense of Self When You’re a Mother and Wife

contributed article

It’s fair to say, as women, we have drawn the short straw in many respects, and there’s no doubt we have it tough at times. Along with growing, carrying and giving birth to our babies, in most cases, we’re their primary caregiver, too. And as wonderful and special as this is, it does mean that everything else in our lives can be twice as hard as we’re fitting it around our children. One thing many women struggle with after having kids is losing their sense of self or identity. You’re no longer just you, you’re a mother. Your new name is “mom,” and your new role is of a parent and sometimes wife. But just because you are these roles (and as enjoyable as they are), it doesn’t mean you have to totally lose the person you once were. Keeping your own identity is important; here are a few ways you can go about it.

 

Take Care of Your Appearance

As a busy parent, the way you look often falls to the bottom of the list of priorities. In the morning, it’s probably all about getting your little one up and washed, fed and dressed. But you don’t have to give up on yourself entirely, and actually making a small effort with your appearance is one of the best things you can do for your self-esteem. Perfect a super quick makeup routine- some foundation, bronzer, and a sweep of mascara will instantly make you look your best without being too done up. Every now and again, visit the hairdresser. Have a style cut, which is easy to maintain and quick to do in the morning. The trick is to work with your natural texture, for example, instead of shoving it into a ponytail. If your hair is already straight, run it over with the straighteners for just a minute or two. This will make it look tidier, get rid of any frizz or fluffiness, and allow it to sit better. If your hair is curly, you could scrunch through with some mousse; it won’t take long, but you’ll feel much better being well presented. You probably have your comfy “mom uniform” that you wear to run errands and get stuff done around the house; but a few changes here could make all the difference, too. Instead of a tracksuit, for example, a pair of leggings with a jersey skater dress and a long cardigan would look cute but be just as comfortable. If you run into anyone you know or catch sight of yourself in the mirror, you’re likely to be far more confident, too.

Exercise

Keeping fit is useful when you have energetic children to look after! It will allow you to play with them far more easily and generally keep up. You probably don’t have all the time in the world to hit the gym five days a week, but there’s plenty you can do. Go on a power walk with the pram, or take a ball or frisbee to the park and run around with your kids. Instead of driving shorter distances, walk them instead, and go on family bike rides. You’ll maintain your figure and the endorphins will make you feel good.

Maintain a Social Life

You might have hung up your dancing shoes long ago, and a night out with friends these days might not be to a nightclub or bar like it once was. But keeping friends is so important; find activities that you all like to do now that you’re mothers and wives. Whether it’s play dates with the kids, brunch on a weekend, or an afternoon tea, keeping those connections there is so important. There are of course other ways to keep in contact with friends too; you could use a postcard app to send any funny or sweet pictures as a postcard right to their house. You could talk on the phone, video call, or of course, use social media. But having that support and friendship group around you will help you keep a grasp of your own identity.

Go Back To Work

One way you can keep and maintain your identity is through your job or career. As a parent you might not necessarily want to go back full time, when you have children to look after. If that’s the case, how about part time? You could even start a home business or do some freelance stuff online. Either way, maintaining your career interests is a good way to go, and bringing money into the home will make you feel good.

Image source

 

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Don’t Let Fear Rule You

I typed this title on this blog post, as if I don’t let FEAR rule me. I know sometimes I do. Actually, I have to make a conscious effort to NOT let fear rule everything I do. I first realized this only a couple years ago when a very good friend quoted Dune and said, “Fear is the mind-killer.” Here’s the entire quote if you haven’t heard it before:

Why do I bring it up today?

I’m the type of person who needs to hear the same advice time and again before it sinks in. And I’m still learning. I’m the type of person who probably needs an entire bedroom mirror full of quotes and tips and things I’ve learned from books, so I don’t forget them. BUT…I bring this up today because recently I heard Andrew McCarthy speak (Oh no, not this again, will she ever stop going on about him? you think) and he talked about Fear. He talked about Fear a lot. He talked about how we have to face Fear right in the face.

Immediately, I became defensive and thought: Who is he to tell us that we are fearful? Well, after listening to him talk from his heart and realizing how hard he tries at everything in his life now: writing, parenting, directing, AND how he is successful, I decided to listen to his message. He told a story to the audience, which he also wrote for National Geographic, about how he was on a 500-mile walking pilgrimage in Spain when he had a meltdown,  where he says, “I literally shook my fists at the heavens and cursed whatever God it was I half-believed in.”

He goes on to say (to read the whole article, please go here):

I became aware of something I’d in some way known all my life. It disclosed itself with the simplicity of the absolute. There wasn’t something lacking in my character; I had an overabundance of something. It had dictated so many of my actions, been behind so many decisions, obscured so much of my judgment. FEAR, I SAW IN THAT MOMENT, had ruled my life. The vulnerability between my shoulders was the space created when the weight of that domineering, life-directing emotion had been temporarily relieved. It was in this experience of fear’s absence that it began to lose its hold on me.

When he said the same thing in his talk at St. Louis County Library Headquarters, I realized that I have allowed FEAR to rule my life also, and most of us do, in spite of friends and the universe reminding us not to. I felt an overwhelming sadness and disappointment in myself at that moment because I wasn’t in control of my own life or my destiny. Fear was. Fear is.

I could give you a bullet point list of my fears, and many of you reading this would probably nod along; but instead of that, I decided that they can all be boiled down to one little sentence:

I fear that I am never doing enough–in my relationships, in my career, at my home, with my child.

And because of this, I spend a lot of time in chaos and worry and listmaking and pacing around my house, where I am not actually accomplishing anything. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s exhausting.

I want to tell you I’m done with it. I can’t do that yet. I can tell you: I want to be done with it. But we all know patterns and habits are hard to change. What I’m trying very hard to do, in this year where I’m also searching for Peace, is to be aware of when I am feeling Fear and figure out why. Then make a decision based on what I want for me life, and not on what Fear wants for my life.

“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision. It serves as blinders to what may be just a few steps down the road for you. The journey is valuable, but believing in your talents, your abilities, and your self-worth can empower you to walk down an even brighter path. Transforming fear into freedom – how great is that?” ~Soledad O’Brien

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Raising a Tall Daughter

I titled this post raising a TALL daughter, instead of just raising a daughter, because all of us raising a daughter know some characteristic people  bring attention to, possibly unaware they are doing this, that makes our daughters self-conscious. For my daughter, it’s being tall. Maybe your daughter is short. Maybe she is super smart. Maybe she talks fast. These are all characteristics that people consider okay to comment on.

We also know bullies like to draw attention to personal traits in a negative way, such as being overweight, wearing glasses, or not knowing the answers in class. We think this is horrible, and we fight the good fight against these kind of comments, whether in person, in writing, or online. But do we realize, as adults, that we are constantly bombarding  our kids with messages about their body or their intelligence? And this is not always raising their self-esteem. For my daughter, it’s being tall. Let me tell you what inspired this post.

Katie started cheerleading (she is 6). The wonderfully nice coach said, “I’m going to line you guys up by height, so we can figure out a good formation for our dance.” She told everyone to get in line, and I immediately saw Katie slouch down as much as possible, so she wouldn’t be the tallest one. The next words that came out of the mouth of the short, innocent girl next to her were: “Well, she (pointing at Katie) is the tallest one.”  I had to step in.

I said, “Katie, stand up straight. It’s awesome to be the tallest one. Mommy is always the tallest one.” The coach then chimed in with similar praises, and Katie smiled and stood up straight.

I probably don’t need to go on and on about this story for you to see why it bothered me. But…I am a writer, so I will say this: Before anyone even said she was the tallest one, she knew it was going to be her and she didn’t want it to be her. She is only 6! I remember feeling the same way when I was young.

Is part of that because we innately want to be the same as everyone else? Probably. But a large part of her slouching is because so many people, young and old, are constantly telling her how tall she is and how much older she looks and sounds.

Because I have this blog, I can say: Please stop.

You can only control you, as I said in my last post, but you can stop talking about how short or tall some child is and asking your family to do the same.

fall_dill_007Look, I am as guilty as the next person for drawing attention to my daughter’s height.  My way of coping with this, my wrong way, is to say: “I know. She is really tall,” before the person gets a chance to say it. And I know what several of you reading this are thinking: I wish I was tall. Being tall is great.

And you’re right, it is. But it took me 19-20 years to think this; and sometimes, on bad days, I still don’t think so. She and I can’t control this. We can’t go on a diet to get shorter. We can’t read a book to get shorter. We can’t practice to get shorter.

We are tall. We need to be proud of it. But we don’t need to be constantly reminded of it. 

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Tired

I am tired.

I am tired of fighting every day:

my emotions

my desire to hide

other people’s opinions 

my feelings for other people

my negative thoughts that I’m not doing enough as a parent.

I’m tired.

But I decided today that I’m just giving in to these things I’m fighting because I think in order to heal, in order to become whole again, in order to be the person I eventually want to be–I have to stop running. And one way I fight is by running away, by closing the door, by keeping it locked.

I am accepting reality the way it is. I am going to stop wishing and dreaming. I am going to be in the NOW and deal with what I have to deal with at this present moment.

I’m also acknowledging that I’m going to make a ton of mistakes–probably more mistakes than I’m going to do things right, and I know that I am not alone, no matter what other people are admitting to in their own lives. We all lose our temper sometimes. We all say things we shouldn’t. We all feel things that are not good for us. We all make choices we wish we wouldn’t have.

For a while, I’ve been blaming a lot of these types of feelings on endometriosis, and one reason is because it does screw with hormones and the regular female cycle. And I do realize that this blame is deserved.

But I also know that I’m stronger than this .I am stronger than some disease that has a hold of my body. I do not have to let it rule my life. I don’t have to say the things that are coming to my lips and blame hormones.

I can control it. But this also makes me tired.

But I would rather be tired at the end of the day because I’m living an authentic life instead of being tired because I am trying to be someone I’m not.

 

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