.. is something that I want daughter to be.
I hear it from so many parents’ I grew up with this complex, I don’t want my child to ever feel like that’. And I guess, most of us do try to parent in a way which we believe is the best for our child.
The other day, a friend, a really sweet lady, who is great with her daughter, and I were walking back home after school. It is spring here, and schools have an optional summer uniform, which most students wear. Daughter was wearing it too, with little white socks. Her friend was wearing the black/grey regular uniform with grey tights. And I just asked, absent-mindedly, if she was not too hot in it, because it was a really warm day.
Her mother replied, that she is not comfortable with her daughter wearing socks, or showing her legs because she grew up with the complex that she had thin, dark legs, and now her daughter has the same. So she keeps her in tights or trousers. I was stunned.I could not understand how wearing tights would help? Wouldn’t she ask at some point, why she is the only child in class wearing tights on such a warm day? Or why she is never allowed clothes with socks or shorts? Would she not be far less likely to develop a complex, if parents did not make it an issue, rather than hiding her legs away, as if it were something to be ashamed of? And what a thing to be worried about! How about rejoicing in how sweet and adorable their daughter is? How about telling her that physical attributes don’t matter, and be proud of the person she is rather than focus on things which do not even matter in the long run(or in the short run, for that matter).
This child is also unhappy about her dark complexion. This is a 5 yr old we are talking about. And should I add that the little girl is a wonderful child, sensitive, friendly, but not at all confident.
I have always felt that physical attributes need not be such a huge issue. After all, they are aspects, that no individual has any means of controlling. Can we help it if we are fair/dark/short/tall? Why make such a big deal about it? I have heard people say, ‘I want him to be tall’. Well, he might if he has the right genes in his DNA. No amount of wishing and hoping is going to change the way the child is. If a child who grows up hearing this, ends up being an average height, what is the possibility that he will develop a complex? After all what can be worse for your self-confidence than the knowledge that your parent thinks that you do not measure up? And that too for things that are in one’s control?
Another 5 yr old is worried that she is fat, and she is not fat by any means. I can’t help wonder where they get these ideas from. Why is the way they look so important. Although I am not surprised. Half the ‘girlie’ toys seem to have make-up and dressing up stuff. And to be honest, I have a hard time steering clear of them. Thankfully, daughter is not too keen on them. So it is easy to distract her. But when I see her friends wearing heels, and showing them off proudly, I can’t help wonder. Are we picking up things for our child that we wished we had (or based on our childhood experiences) or are we picking up things which make sense for our children. It worries me how all this will impact my daughter, but so far, she is not too bothered about skin colour or how she looks. She makes friends with children of all skin colours, and seems to be happy in her own skin. And that is all I want for her.
As parents, all we can do is try to bring up a child with a healthy body image. Give them the opportunity to take part in as many physical activities as possible,but not so that they can be tall/thin, but so that they are healthy and happy. Give them the confidence that they are happy in their own skin. Bring them up so that they know that looks are indeed skin-deep, but personality is what shines through!