As a little girl, summers were special. They meant a break from school for our whole family. My mom worked at a school so she was on the same school schedule as my little brother and I. Our summers were full of days at the beach and sleepovers. If we could have lived on the water we would have.
It was the place that just made everything go away. Bad days, stressful season, everything would simply wash away in the water.
There was just one little problem. Summers also meant something else. Every moment of sun meant another freckle on my face.
You may laugh, but as a kid, I hated my freckles. No one else in my class had them and they made me stand out. Everyone would make comments about them and they made me feel different.
As a kid, being different is uncomfortable.
There isn’t this sense of pride that comes along with it, instead, it makes you feel set apart from your friends.
If only I could have told my younger self not to worry because one-day freckles would start trending. One day everyone would want to have your freckles so badly that they’ll even get them tattooed on their face.
I hope it doesn’t take my boys a decade to realize how special they are for being uniquely them. Instead, I want them to look at who they are and be proud.
I want them to look at their passions and do what makes them happy, even if it’s not what their friends are doing.
I want them to stop comparing themselves to other families out there and be proud to have a multiracial family that looks different.
I want them to look in the mirror before they head off for school and smile because they’re content with who they are.
So how can we as their parents, teach them to love themselves? How can we help them bypass the years of self-hatred that too many kids face and go straight to loving who they are?
It’s not as complicated as you may think it is. One of the best ways to help you kids love themselves is by loving yourself first.
It all started with mom, so why are we surprised to find out self-love does as well?
Our kids watch every move we make.
We are their living, breathing example of everything.
They’re looking to us to figure out how they should think, talk, and behave.
The problem is we’re not always what we teach. It’s why we tell them so often to “Do what I say, now what I do.” Part of it’s our imperfect nature. There is no way we will ever be the perfect example to our kids and I think it’s better that way. Instead of giving them this impossible image to attain to, we’re showing them what it looks like to lead an imperfect life and how to respond to failure.
We’re going to do and say the wrong things at times and it’s okay. It’s the best moment to teach our kids a lesson. You can use the opportunity to be vulnerable with your kids and let them know you were wrong and give them a glimpse into your journey.
Self-love has been that imperfect journey for myself.
I look at my stretch marks, the weight I just can’t get off after baby Lucas, and love isn’t the first thought that comes to mind. Instead, it’s self-hate and comparison. I look at other moms that lost the weight immediately after they had their baby and the mom that bypassed the ugly stretch marks and wonder why I can’t look like that. The more I lose myself into the self-loathing, the more it starts to come out verbally.
“Why am I so fat?”
“These stretch marks are so ugly.”
You may not realize, but little ears hear it all. They pick up on the negativity and start to look at their own body twice. If their own mom hates what she looks like, they instinctually start to question theirs.
This leads to the road of self-loathing that takes decades to get over.
If we want our children to love themselves, we have to love ourselves first. We have to let the self-hate go and verbally praise the things we do love about our bodies and selves.
It’s okay if it’s small at first. The more you fill your life with positivity, the easier it will become. Then you’ll slowly realize how far you’ve come and how much you truly do love about yourself.