Sweet Girl, Do You Know Who You Are…Pt. 1

So, I want to switch gears a little bit and go with something that has always been close to my heart and something I really wish I could help with more. This might be a multi-part post so stick with me here.

A while back my beautiful, sweet seven year old…a girl that doesn’t hold back, wears her heart on her sleeve, takes what she wants and believes and runs with it….was talking with me as we prepared lunch. She looked up at me with her big, blue eyes and said, “Mom, does that have carbs in it?”

I was taken back. My husband and I made a very strong agreement that we would not talk about diets, weight, or anything a long those lines. We agreed that we would encourage our children to eat healthy. We prepare our meals at home, my kids love vegetables and fruit for snacks, but we don’t deny them treats and other things either. We distinguish between healthy, any time foods and not healthy, every once and while food.

“Yes, it does have carbs in it.” I answered.
“Then I can’t eat it. Carbs will make me fat.”

My heart sunk. Here was my seven year old girl and she was already being pulled into a cycle that girls and women are exposed to throughout their lifetime. A cycle that I so wanted to shield my girls from for as long as possible.

As time has gone on, more and more she has been calling herself fat. She has even been staring in to a mirror and pin pointing the things she doesn’t like about herself.

“My hair is an ugly color.”
“My teeth look weird.”
“I’m not pretty.”

She makes these statements, not out of real depression or concern, but almost like a badge, like she has reached a point in her life that she is allowed expected to say those things. Not only does she say them about herself but about her younger sister and brother.

“You can’t eat that sucker. It’ll make you fat.”
“Oh, my gosh, get off of me, you’re so fat.”
“You don’t look very pretty in that shirt.”

We try to encourage our children to use positive body language. We encourage them to see the good things. See, it’s no longer just the physical parts of themselves, but the parts of their personality, the parts of what make them who they are.

“Mom, I can’t like Pokemon anymore, it’s weird.”
“Mom, I just need to learn to be quiet.”
“I suck at math….reading…..gymnastics…..singing……”
“I need to change my name because Chico is a spaz, and if I wasn’t Chico, I wouldn’t be a spaz.” (Yes, this was probably one of the most heartbreaking experiences I’ve had as mother up to now, my son actually wanted to change his name because he thought his name was why he is the way he is….hyper, energetic, explosive personality).

It’s not just a girl issue, obviously my son is already experiencing it and he’s four. But I have to say, I still believe girls experience it a little more than boys do on a broader spectrum which I’ll get into in later posts.

The other day I was listening to the Moana soundtrack on my way to work (because I’m a mom, it was in my car and I forgot my iPod). *Semi-spoiler for anyone who hasn’t seen it*. There is a song when Moana is feeling down and she is talking with her grandmother. Now, as a mom you sometimes miss the lyrics to the little side tunes on movies but as I was driving, I caught this conversation between Moana and her grandmother. I actually replayed the song a few times because it sparked my need to write this series of posts. These few lines jumped out to me the most.

“The people you love will change you,
the things you have learned will guide you,
and nothing on earth can silence
the quiet voice still inside you.

And when that voice starts to whisper,
Moana, you’ve come so far,
Moana, listen
Do you know who you are?”

As I listened to this, I realized for a children’s show, this was a profound moment. I ended up asking my kids this question and it was interesting how the conversations turned. First they looked at me like I was crazy, and said their names. Then I repeated the question and told them to tell me who they were. I continued to ask them, “Who are you?” Each time I asked, they added a new detail about what made them who they were (well, at least my two oldest, my four year old got bored really fast but that’s a heavy experiment to do with a four year old).

So, we’ve been dealing with this with my girls and my son. My husband and I try our hardest to curve that mindset. To make them feel confident in who they are. A post has been going around social media lately, “The way we talk to children becomes their inner voice.” But here’s the thing with that, yes, the way I talk to my children can be part of their inner voice, however, they are who they were meant to be.

Long before this life, they were already defined. Their spirit, and soul were already established. The key elements of what make a person who they are is their own spirit. The spirit they were given from Heavenly Father. They are born with their own personalities. They are born to be who they will be. And how I speak to my children is not their inner voice, but it can over power their inner voice. The millions of voices of both this world and other worlds try to drown out their own inner voice.

My job as a parent is not to be their inner voice, but to help them find that inner voice and help them battle all the voices around them that will try to change who they are. That little voice, that spirit that was custom made just for them by Heavenly Father, needs to be protected and guarded as my kids learn just who that voice inside them is and learn how to use it.

That’s all for now on this topic but watch for my next post.

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