“How much influence do mothers have on their daughters’ views of their bodies? A social experiment in the US shows how mothers often unknowingly share their own body image issues – an innocent comment about tight jeans or wanting to lose weight can impact a child and teach them to worry as well.”
This just popped up in my Facebook feed and I when the author of this at the end asked about our thoughts all I could think of was the word “yes”.
All of our words can influence a child. If it is in a very direct way or also by what we say and how we say it to others or to ourselves. If you judge in front of you children they will most likely pick up on it as well and start judging in a very similar way to yours in the future. If you use swear words your kids will eventually copy you and use them too, not understanding why they get told off for it. If you call your child “little shit” on a regular base and in a very disrespectful way (in any way) it will feel like a little shit.
And if you constantly talk down the way you are or the way you look they will start analyzing themselves too and find all the mistakes that are no mistakes at all but they want and need to see in themselves because it seems so normal to them that bodies are not perfect.
Parenting is truly a difficult and challenging journey, right?
Not only do you find yourself in the position of the leader of a pack with all the responsibilities and chores but you also have to watch every step you make and every word you speak in order to not trigger issues or endanger your children. You throw a rock into the lake, they throw a rock but maybe at their sibling instead of into the water. You drive and you swear because the driver in front of you does something really stupid and a couple of minutes later your toddler in the back calls an old lady on a bike an a..hole too. You have a bad day and you look in the mirror harshly judging yourself and next thing you hear is your child making judgments about their body too.
And then it hits you!
If you continue being so super harsh with yourself, your child will end up having body issues too. Maybe even if there is no reason whatsoever for it. If you continue being unhappy about the way you look, you will never feel pretty and you will also plant that seed in your child, no matter if it’s a boy or a girl.
I’ve been there too. And when I stopped and started thinking about my mom’s relationship to her body I can totally see where my issues come from. Please don’t get me wrong. This is not about blaming someone. It’s more about realizing what kind of impact our behavior and our words can have on your children. The things I struggle with in regards to my body are the same my mom struggled with as far as I can remember. I might even use the same words when I get angry about them. Do I have real body issues? What are real issues? Do I have body issues that lead to health issues? Nope.
I guess we all know that teaching our kids a healthy body image is the best way to go and yet it’s so damn difficult. And why is it that difficult? Because most of us have been trained from a young age to not see the good things you do but rather criticize the “wrong” things you do. Instead of praising us for something we did well and for how good we look, how healthy we eat, how much we work out, we judge the slightest negative things. An issue was planted in our system.
I know how hard it is.
For such a long time I want my kids to only hear positive things from me when I talk about my body. I don’t want them to hear that I want to lose weight but that I want to become even healthier. I don’t want them to hear that I need to diet for a little bit, but that I want to eat healthier and work out more in order to get stronger and healthier.
Isn’t it crazy how much influence our words can have?
Right now another example just came to my mind. When I grew up and someone in the family or someone out of the circle of my parents friends got pregnant for the first time, people talked about how much her body will change and that her great figure will be gone for good. If you grow up hearing this and believing this, it’s so hard not to give up after having had your first baby. It’s so hard to still believe that you can get back your body. Of course a pregnancy has its influences on your body but that doesn’t necessarily mean that “you lose your great figure” for good. But that’s what was said. And you believe it. And you envy all the women that after having had a baby go back to how they looked like before being pregnant. And you blame the genes for it instead of realizing that it’s all about your eating habits. It’s about being healthy. Eating healthy, moving, looking after yourself as well.
It took me 3 years after having my first child until I realized that what was told back in the days is a big pile of rubbish. Three years to realize that I only had to change my diet slightly to lose the last bit of the baby weight. I’m not saying that you need to go nuts right after having a baby. I actually believe that a mother should be given the same amount of time it took her to have that baby (by that I mean the pregnancy…) to find back to a sort of normal eating and maybe workout habit. Some manage it earlier, some never gain too much weight because they have themselves so much more in control while pregnant. Some don’t. Bottom line is, that you can get your body back. And you can keep it if you look after yourself and take your time to do it. And you must want it and believe that it’s possible.
I don’t want my children to be influence by my behavior. I don’t want them to end up with body issues just because I might have made remarks about my body. I want them to cherish their bodies, to love them and feel comfortable in them. And it all starts with me. With my actions but most of all with my words…