This week, I dropped my six-year-old daughter off at her first day of Kindergarten. She is our middle child and only girl, so like many of you, my emotions were all over the place.
On the one hand, I was thrilled for her to get off my couch and join her brother at our beloved elementary school. But on the other, I knew that I was also sending her off into a whole new world of people who come from very different homes and have very different values than we do.
Now let me say up front that I am ALL FOR exposing our children to diversity. But as a woman, I know that her little world is expanding and changing, and with that change comes challenges. I can no longer bubble her up in the four walls of our home, and more than my son, I worry because I know that the world is about to start telling my daughter some lies.
There will come a day when the world will tell her she is not enough.
And some days, the world will tell her she is too much.
The day is coming when the world will tell her that her body defines her.
And someday soon, the world will tell her she is unlovable.
Here’s what I know for sure. Somewhere along the way, whether we go to public school, private school, or are taught at home, we will encounter people and situations who will make us believe these things. No one escapes unscathed. (And the sad truth is that many of us now can look back and pinpoint exactly when it happened.)
I can’t stop the world from telling her these things. It’s inevitable. These lies pervade the media we consume, the books we read, and the movies we watch.
But what I can do is fight like hell against them by modeling truth at home. And what makes this particular fight so freaking hard? The truth starts with me.
So here’s what I can do.
I can be sure that the words she hears coming from my mouth are never gossiping or trash talking other women, especially a friend. Mean girls aren’t born mean, mamas. Check yourself. They hear it all. And pay attention to the shows they watch or what they find on YouTube. It’s not the Care Bears and Saved by the Bell anymore.
I can be sure that I never comment on someone’s appearance (or mine) when there are little ears around. Ever. No, really, like ever ever ever. As someone who fought body image demons for years, I can’t tell you how important this is. Instead, I can model for her what it looks like to care for and nourish my body so I can be at my best, not because of what I see in a mirror.
And more than anything, I can teach my daughter to shift her focus off of herself and on to those around her. I truly believe that so many of our anxieties and insecurities as women would diminish if we would stop fixating so much on ourselves. There’s such a movement out there right now to focus on self-care and meeting our own needs, and while I think there’s good intent there, I think that’s an incredibly tricky message to be sending our daughters. We’re raising them in a culture of selfies and “me me me” when what the world really needs right now is for us to see ourselves less and see each other more. Turn off that selfie mode. Flip the lens.
Here’s what I hope my daughter knows for sure:
You are enough, no matter if you succeed at everything you try or nothing at all.
Your value cannot be earned. (I’m still working on this one myself.)
You are worthy of love and acceptance for exactly who you were created to be. Athletic or not. Gifted or not gifted. Highest reading group or lowest. None of it matters.
And finally, you have a voice and a purpose in this world. And that purpose has nothing to do with you and everything to do with those you encounter.
I cannot wait to see you move mountains, girl.