They say confession is good for the soul. After getting that last thing off my chest (you know the one about how I am pretty much insane), I decided to confess again. This one is bad. Brace yourself. Ready? I use the F word in front of my two and four year-old daughters. Not just once… kind of a lot. In reference to myself, in reference to others, I don’t even think twice, I just say it. Gasp. Go ahead judge me now. No, not that F word. Not the one you’re probably judging me for (It’s okay. I did give you permission). The other F word… the even worse one. It starts with F and rhymes with Cat. Got it?
You might be surprised that I referred to it as the “even worse” F word. I’m not advocating tossing the other one around in front of your children either. I am just saying if you have to choose between the duck and the cat, the duck would probably do less damage. Okay, stop judging now! Just hear me out. Yes, the duck is far more scandalous and it is inappropriate. But think what the cat can do.
When your daughter looks at you what does she see? She sees beauty… Beautiful Mommy. I know because I was little once… once upon a time, long, long ago (Enough! Not that long!). I knew my mommy was the most beautiful mommy. I wanted to have her smile, her eyes, her voice… I wanted to look like my mommy. If Beautiful Mommy feels less than beautiful, she should never tell her daughter this. If she feels like her butt looks fat in these jeans, she should shut her mouth. Beautiful Daughter looks up to Beautiful Mommy and hopes and expects to be just like her someday. Your little girl believes everything you say. Maybe you are normally a self confident woman, but today you feel F-A-T. Don’t say it out loud…. not in front of your child. Every time we bring up our insecurities like they are fact, they become fact… to our little ones. Then as they grow up, our insecurities will becomes their own. If Mommy worries about being fat, Daughter will think she is fat.
If I burn my finger and exclaim “Duck!” It is about the same to my little girls as if I burn my finger and say “Ow!” It may startle. It may surprise. It will not do any permanent damage (except to my maternal ego when she quite possibly repeats it after a fall at the playground). If we are honest, the biggest real problem with this F word is the embarrassment it can (and probably will) cause you as a parent. If the choice is between long term emotional damage to your daughter or a temporary red face for yourself, I think we both know which one is better.
As if my previous confession is not bad enough, I sometimes I use the S word too. Skinny. But what is wrong with that? you ask? Sure I get it. I get why the F word is bad. Why is the S word bad? Isn’t skinny a good thing? No, no, NO! Here’s why. In magazines, TV commercials, movies… all around us, is the message. Fat is bad. Skinny is good. Maybe the worst evil and the highest good even. I hate to admit it, but I sometimes get caught up in this terribly, horribly, dreadfully bad way of thinking. Fat is neither bad nor good (although it is unhealthy to be overweight). Skinny is neither bad nor good (although it too, can be unhealthy). Praising a girl for being skinny can be just as damaging as condemning a girl for being fat. Shocking, I know. Again, hold off on the judgement. Think about it this way. There are two basic kinds of motivation… positive and negative. The negative comments toward obesity are harmful to a girl’s self image. But positive comments about being skinny can cause problems too. If she is good because she is skinny, won’t she be better is she gets skinnier? If she loses even more weight, people will really like her. This can lead to an unhealthy view of weight and even unhealthier methods of achieving the ultimate goal… to be skinny. She may also begin to identify herself as a skinny girl instead of a kind, smart, funny, interesting, etc… person. Being and staying skinny can become too important. Both fat and skinny put too much emphasis on physical appearance, and not enough on what really matters.
I think, as mothers, we should eliminate these bad words from our vocabularies. At the very least we need to stop using them in front of our daughters. Yes, they will grow up. They will eventually hear these words. But don’t let it be from their own Mommies. Keep them innocent and happy. Let them dance because it is fun, without a thought of how many calories it might burn. Will you join me and vow to keep little ears safe from the real S and F words?
And now, I shall jump off my soapbox before I fall and hurt myself.
What do you think?