This post was first published on Parentous.
Height: I am of an average height; my mother is a little shorter. All through my growing up years, she was almost obsessed about my height. Her worst fears were that I would not grow up even as tall as her. In retrospect, I am convinced she had to listen to a lot of taunts about her own height and therefore, she did not want her daughter to go through that.
Teeth: Same goes about my teeth. I don’t have a perfect jaw line. I had been taken to an orthodontist but somehow never got around to getting braces because I lived in a small place. The dentist tried to convince my mother that braces would significantly improve my side profile (rolling my eyes).
Complexion: I am wheatish.
No, she was not nursing any dreams of sending me to a beauty pageant. Those were just the concerns of a well-meaning, conventional mother of a girl. I am sure you would have come across many such mothers or parents. It is not unusual in this country.
Throughout my teenage years, I have been made conscious, directly or indirectly, about how I did not match up to the common perceptions of perfect beauty, but moreover, how it was important (in the marriage market).
Today, none of those things matter to me. It never even crosses my mind. So, the issues which took my mind space for a significant amount of time in those years eventually have no bearing on my life. It did only harm to my self-image.
Those thoughts are the basis of this post: self-image or self-worth of our children, and our role as a parent.
Self-image, self-worth or self-esteem is related to “a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his or her own worth”. Healthy self-image of children can take them through many unfavourable life-situations. The role of parents is extremely critical in children’s life in developing a positive self-image. Often, parents’ insecurities get passed on to their children (as was evident in my own case).
Parents should be aware and careful about what they say to and around children, whether it is about themselves or about the children. If you have a poor self-image or body-issues, it should not come as a surprise that your child may have them too.
Of course, self-image may alter later in life with influence of friends or interactions with other people, but certainly, the foundations are laid in the initial years of a child’s life when he/she spends most of his/her time in the proximity of parents.
Children who are confident about themselves and know that they are loved unconditionally (by their parents), can also stand up against the negative peer pressure because they are not needy of acceptance.
Look at how advertising is unabashedly and aggressively promoting the idea of physical beauty being the parameter for acceptance. Now imagine what it will do to an adolescent who is already in a state of confusion and self-discovery. It needs a tremendous amount of self-belief to not get sucked into this make-believe world.
So, what are your thoughts?
Do you also think we should resist the temptation of gushing over the pretty little faces?
Read my other published articles HERE.