We know that humans come in all sizes, shapes, colors, talents, and smarts. Things would get pretty boring–and confusing–if everyone looked alike and had the same talents and abilities; we need variety to keep the world turning. Who would grow the food and fix the plumbing if we were all rock stars?
Why then do we then pick one or two sorts of humans and define them as good? Why is tall better than short? Why is blond better than brunette? Why is aggressive good in a male and not so good in a female? Who makes these arbitrary decisions?
We need to take a breath and examine our assumptions, because they effect every aspect of our lives. We especially need to consider how they affect our children’s lives.
Thoughtless, arbitrary assumptions can place expectations on our children that will crush their fragile frames.
It is easy to assume that athleticism is good, and slide from there over to I want you to be athletic, and will be disappointed in you if you are not. It is common to assume that girls should be nice, and then wear a dismayed look when a daughter’s competitive streak comes to the fore.
It is equally easy for a daughter to internalize that look of disappointment or dismay, and lacerate her own self-esteem.
So let’s question our assumptions.
I am where I am partly because I was fueled by soul deep anger and competitiveness. I am told these traits are “negative” in a woman, but they motivated me and gave me the power to overcome endless obstacles. Why then are such things defined as negative – should it not depend on how they are used? These traits are part of my whole–should I not embrace them if I am to love myself? Or do I have to embrace only the parts of me of which others would approve, and try to bury the rest? Why? Because society says so? Religion? Because I am a woman and we are assumed to be a certain way? Because they are not happy, perky feelings?
Who defines what is a negative trait, and what is positive? Is it social mores, extended family, religious books, the entertainment industry? These entities don’t even know you or your children, so why should you trust them to decide what you or they should be?
We want our children to like themselves in their entirety, not just selective bits and pieces. We do not want them to feel that they need to hide parts of themselves because they believe those parts to be bad, or shameful. Down that path lies broken relationships and depression.
If your child is short, tall, brunette, round, skinny, bookish, hates books… take this moment to make sure that you are not harboring assumptions about which bits and pieces are “good” and which are “bad.” Kids are experts at reading their parents, and stamping themselves with those unvoiced judgements. Value honesty, responsibility, inspiration–traits that will help them succeed in any field–and all the parts and pieces of your actual children, because every part of them deserves your acceptance and love.